Last week we looked at the connection between grief and gratitude and I offered a few suggestions on how we can manage this ‘big’ emotion of grief through the lens of gratitude.
This week I have 3 yin yoga poses designed specifically to help manage the feeling of grief. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, grief is the emotion associated with the metal element, autumn and the meridians/organs of the lungs and large intestine. It’s all about letting go – of what not longer serves us, of feelings that have become ‘stuck’ in our bodies, and of the past.
Our yin yoga poses for grief focus on the meridians of the lungs and large intestines, physically these run along the arms and upper body. Please work within a pain-free range and always move carefully and mindfully between poses. You can hold these postures for up to 5-minutes each side, but always come out of the pose sooner, if you feel you have reached your maximum benefits.
Extended Puppy Pose
Starting from child’s pose or kneeling, extend the right hand to the top right corner of the mat, and the left hand to the top left corner of the mat. Keeping the hips high, lengthen forwards on an exhale into puppy pose. This can be an intense pose for the upper body and shoulders, you can modify by bending one arm in and placing the forehead onto the forearm, offering a 1/2 puppy pose. Stay in this pose for a minimum of 2 minutes (if possible) and build up to 5 minutes.
Sphinx and Seal
Starting laying on your stomach, place the forearms on the floor, elbows directly underneath the shoulders and rise up into sphinx pose. This backbend can be modified by taking the feet mat distance apart to release any tension in the lower back. You could also take the elbows forwards a little to lessen the bend in the back.
To come to seal pose, press into the hands to straighten the arms. The arms do not need to be perfectly straight – try to keep the shoulders relaxed here. Stay in the backbends for a maximum of 3 minutes. I normally offer seal pose as an option in the last minute, as it is quite an activating backbend.
Come to lay on your back and hug the knees into the chest. Exhale as you drop the knees and shins down onto the floor or a rolled up blanket. Next, turn the torso towards the ceiling extending the back arm out to the side or bending at the elbow. Take some time to find a position where the neck is comfortable – this could be gazing in the same direction as your knees, looking up towards the ceiling or turning to look behind you. Remain in this twist for up to 5 minutes before moving to the other side.
End your practice with some time in relaxation, focusing on the breath and the feeling of gratitude for being able to take some time to get on your mat and move.