Grieving, YogAlign, And Hope.

By Renee’ Fulkerson

Some say the only for sure things you can count on in life are taxes and death. I have found another for sure in my life. And that is my beloved YogAlign practice. It has provided me with the tools I needed to cope with my father’s passing. Death is never easy and, a sudden death makes it that much more challenging. And then enter grieving. Grieving is a process that affects everyone differently. And there are no right or wrong ways to grieve. I want to share my experience in hopes it may benefit another in a position of loss. Loss can come in many forms.

Some of the emotional symptoms I felt:

  • sadness
  • hopelessness
  • fear
  • anger
  • overwhelmed
  • regretful
  • shut down

Some of the physical symptoms I felt:

  • body tension
  • fatigue
  • insomnia
  • shortness of breath
  • no appetite
  • nausea
  • shut down

For me, all of the above mentioned emotional and physical symptoms were all intertwined. And I dealt with them as a whole. I view the body as a whole and not in pieces. And because the YogAlign Method works with the body as a whole. I had everything I needed to get through this difficult time. 

Emotion is a conscious mental reaction or state of feeling. I knew I had to approach my emotions from the inside. To be able to function in my everyday life. Feeling shut down emotionally and physically makes it hard to live. Enter YogAlign.

I can’t be for sure, which pushed me to the mat more? My emotional or physical pain. I will say one could not help but ease the other. The outcome was always a sense of relief. My approach to the practice was different than my usual beginnings. 

I begin by: 

  • laying on the floor with my knees bent at a distance from my belly
  • arms out to a wide V, palms facing up and, fingers spread
  • shoulder blades draw together and away from my ears

In this posture, I feel safe and, my body feels supported. I have created space for my belly to relax. There is space between my chin and my chest. I can surrender a bit and breathe. Once my breath begins to flow freely. Everything else starts to follow. The tension in my body starts to unravel. At times I will cry. And I honor that. My body becomes more receptive to feel better. I then move into self-massage.

  • start by crossing an ankle over a knee
  • press each nail bed and gently roll up the toe joints
  • massage top and bottom of the foot
  • back of the leg, inner and outer thighs 
  • taking a few inhales through the nose and, lion roar exhales

From here, I begin to massage my belly, starting at the costal arch below my sternum. I move with gentle to medium pressure in clockwise circles. Then I place my hands on either side of my ribcage. And breathe in like sipping from a straw. Feeling my ribcage expand into my hands (holding for a few seconds). Then I stick my tongue out and begin the lion exhale. And feel my ribcage move away from my hands. As my body begins to trust this good feeling, I start to feel the negative emotions subside. And that emotional break can last an hour the length of my practice or day(s). Either way, I am grateful for the reprieve.

 Onto hands:

  • press each nail bed and gently roll up the finger joint
  • massage wrist, arm, and elbow up to the shoulder
  • across the pecs and above/below the collar bone

From here, I knead my chin and place my hands on my cheeks. Push my cheeks up as I breathe in and lion breath out. Knead around my eyebrows and move out to my ears. I end the self-massage with a nice scalp rub. By this point, I am breathing freely and feeling cracked open.

Sometimes this is all of my practice I need. I can then go about my day and responsibilities. Maybe have a lite meal and go to bed and get some sleep. Other times I move on with the practice. Usually in more challenging moments. I continue on the floor with the leg tuner series, YogAlign SIP ups, and pandiculation. Pandiculation is the act of yawning and stretching simultaneously. Like that first good morning stretch before getting out of bed. By this point, I have moved out of my emotional thinking body and moved into my physical feeling body. YogAlign postures have allowed me to breathe, gain space, and feel good. 

I want to keep this good feeling going. I come to standing slowly (no head rush). I give myself a moment to adjust to being upright. Have a couple of drinks of water and feel the effects of my practice so far. I can move through the YogAlign arm tune-up series, tree posture, and high lunges. And into a soft knee forward fold grabbing elbow to elbow. Checking in with the backline of my body and release tension in the neck and shoulders with the gravity. All of this breathing and movement have, on more than one occasion, brought me to tears. I embrace the release and know grieving is a process. That could signal the ending of my practice. Again no right or wrong or, I may finish up with some low lunges and YogAlign full-body recalibrator (supported splits). More water and standing pandiculation with some lion exhales. For a moment being in the moment has brought hope. And then the dread returns when I realize my dad is no longer in his physical body. I honor this human experience of pain and sadness. Continue to breathe and work my way back down to the floor on my tummy. 

I finish my practice:

  • laying on my tummy and resting on a cheek
  • knees bent 
  • gently moving my legs in a clockwise circle 
  • massaging my lower belly
  • switch cheeks

In this posture, I can relieve any last tension in my belly. And then prepare myself for Savasana or the final resting pose. 

Rolling onto my back with my knees supported with a bolster, rolled blanket or, blocks. I can return to my starting posture and get a sense of how my body and heart feel from start to finish. No judgment, just observing. I have moved through my practice with breath and space. I have practiced YogAlign postures that bring me into proper alignment while supporting my natural curves. This practice allows me to engage my body as a continuum from head to toe (including my tongue). 

My grieving has and does include a fetal posture, lots of sitting and sheet therapy. But that is only some of the time and, it is getting less frequent. I don’t apologize for my feeling of grief. I turn to my beloved YogAlign practice to release and move through those moments. And to balance the aches and pains that come from being more sedentary than usual. Grieving has not been an easy process for me and, it has only been over a year since I lost my father. But I am beginning to see and feel him in a whole new way. A way that brings a smile to my lips and fills my heart with love.

Aloha 

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