Individual Instruction and Counseling
I work with individuals in a one-on-one setting or in groups with the intention of bringing some control to the physical symptoms of grief in order to access the feelings and information that the grieving process inherently holds. Being that grief is 'one of the most untapped resources of self knowledge' (L. Prashant) the idea is to unveil that knowledge towards self transformation. Because we only grieve the loss of that which we are attached to, and because we identify ourselves through our attachments, loss offers a deep possibility of 're-identifying' ourselves in a way that is more connected with who we really are. This helps us recognize and change all patterns of identification that express more 'what they told us we should be like' or what our environment needs us to be.
The intrinsic painful nature of grief, makes it that we are prone to not come close to that pain, to somehow defend ourselves from it. By addressing some of those feelings, working through the pain of grief, we can unlock the precious information that is associated to it.
The yoga for grief relief sadhana I developed as a result of my experience contains six components:
Pranayama are exercises involving the breath. It restores our sense of control by accessing or controlling our prana (vital life force). Given that breathing is automatic and unconscious, bringing awareness to the breath helps unite the gap between our conscious and the unconscious selves.
Asana are physical poses, which manage the symptoms of grief by addressing pain, lack of prana and structural adaptations our bodies contort into, such as hunching or contracting the body around the heart.
Shatkarma are yogic cleansing techniques used to release emotions, thoughts or physical experiences trapped in the body-mind. One of the Shatkarma is Tratak –a group of practices that involve specific eye movements such as gazing at a candle, flower or other beautiful object. It releases tension in the eye and also helps reset and balance the pituitary gland. This glad is involved in the flight or fight response, one of the mechanisms largely involved in grief. One Shatkarma is tratak: gazing at a candle, flower or other beautiful object. This relaxes the effort in the eyes, and can even induce cleansing tears. Another tratak practice involves specific eye movements. Tratak helps reset and nourish the pituitary gland reducing the flight or fight response.
Relaxation practices such as shavasana (lying down, complete relaxation) are vital for diminishing the stress levels that increase when grieving. Observing the rhythm of the breath, listening to calming music or incorporating guided meditation recordings can be helpful.
Sankalpa is the powerful yogic principle of resolve, or making a resolution. Setting our intention or saying a prayer, often out loud, can reset the brain and focus the mind
The image of a windmill, the main asana of the practice, can serve as a symbolic analogy for this process. The forces of the unknown, the wind, power the mechanisms of the windmill, just as the unknown force of loss creates a churning in the depths of our selves. As a windmill utilizes the sometimes wild and destructive force of the wind into constructive mechanical energy, which can transform hard grains to edible flour, the mechanisms of sadhana: practice, prayer, relaxation, resolution and posture can transform our attachments toward a new identity. By addressing the delicate psychoneurological aspects of grief, we can transform the forces of the unknown (death and loss) into understanding of our eternal self.
Meditation is the chief technique yoga uses to address the Spirit; once the body is still and the mind is calm and more entertained in a fixed range of change (as in the repetition of one mantra followed by another repetition), that which is neither body nor mind can manifest more clearly.
The Sadhana addresses different moments of the grieving process and could be practiced in its entirety or technique by technique according to the individuals needs and abilities. Most of the techniques are intended to provide a grieving individual with tools to manage grief symptoms and feelings and students are encouraged to practice these techniques at home. Subsequent meetings allow us to take a look at the emerging feelings and to monitor the process modifying and/or adapting the techniques to better serve the students' needs.
The Yoga for Grief Retreats offer a safe environment where to explore and share One's personal experience of grief. Participants receive general information about grief and learn techniques that can help them move through the pain of loss to find release and relief. The combination of theoretical lecture and experiential work can help the heart of anyone grieving a loss or those working with them.
Sharing one’s own grief in a group that meets frequently offers crucial information about one’s personal ways of grieving as compared with others; combats the frequent ‘social isolation’ grievers suffer from, and enhances the educational aspects of grief counseling. Those going through individual sessions, often chose to participate in series to gain exposure to the full program.
This PT training is suitable for Yoga Therapists and for Health and Mental Health Care professionals interested in adding Yogic techniques to their existing toolbox. It is also beneficial to those interested in deepening their personal knowledge of how yoga can aid the grieving process. CEUs are available for MFT, ASWB, NBCC and BRN.
I make myself available for special interventions (in English, Spanish or Portuguese) in disaster zones or accident sites including providing basic techniques to address the most crucial symptoms of grief as well as providing assistant to communities in distress and organizing fundraising activities for the individuals involved.