Yoga is that exercise where you contort your body into impossible, pretzel-like shapes, right? No, not really. Well, kind of, but mostly no. Yoga, which began in India, is thought to have first been practiced around 4,000 years ago. It was not a physical pursuit, but an emotional and spiritual one, in which the positions, or asanas, were done in preparation for meditation.
In her book, “Yoga for Grief and Loss,” Karla Helbert draws clear connections between the practice of yoga and the role it can play in grief. Helbert writes, “The practice of yoga addresses self-care, helps to integrate the experience of loss, and supports feelings of connection and relationship with loved ones who have died.”
The author comes from a place of personal knowledge, as she felt compelled to write the book after the death of her son. In chapter one, “Why Yoga for Grief,” Helbert expresses firsthand understanding of the nature of grief, the complexities of grieving long after everyone else has moved on, and the deep need to forge a lasting and meaningful connection with the deceased.
Subsequent chapters are devoted to different paths of yoga, such as jnana yoga, the path of knowledge, bhakti yoga, the path of devotion, and tantra yoga, the path of transformation. The book’s final chapter, Hatha Yoga, is focused on finding balance and presents the reader with the familiar postures, or asanas, with accompanying photographs to demonstrate each pose.
Perhaps the most helpful aspects of the book are the engaging writing prompts, meditations, and suggestions for creating space devoted to our loved one. Helbert offers numerous suggestions how, as we are ready, we can turn our energy outward to show kindness and compassion for others. In these karmic acts lie the seeds of growth and healing.
For anyone who has ever practiced yoga and is now on a grief journey, this book is extremely worthwhile. If you have never practiced yoga but are interested in trying it, the book provides clear, understandable guidelines.
Yoga is not a religion. It is a practice that one may take as much or as little from as they wish. This book provides tools to be physically active and improve flexibility, as well as decrease anxiety and feelings of guilt. Above all, this book affirms the needs and feelings of the bereaved and how to cultivate a path forward.
If you are grieving and you need support, please reach out to our Pathways of HopeSM Grief Counseling Centers.
Pathways of HopeSM Grief Counseling Centers
Ohio’s Hospice offers grief and bereavement support through our Pathways of HopeSM Grief Counseling Centers, which provide a variety of services to the communities we serve. Support and education are provided by a team of counselors and social workers, all with significant experience and expertise in assisting grieving children, adolescents and adults.