Yoga for Living with Loss is my creation and continuing study of the Yoga, Grief, and the Chakras. In my twenties, thirties, and forties, I was active as a dancer, an athlete, and busy meeting the demands of a working mother, wife, and social being. In my fifties, the leaping and twirls of the dance seemed to be a bit harsh on my body. A friend suggested a yoga class and I was interested in anything that wasn’t as boring as the step machine. Yoga offered me movement, challenge, music, community, and more. I was instantly and deeply devoted to developing a yoga practice which continues to this day.
Then, just as I was beginning my yoga journey, my deeply loved father passed away. In my grieving, I found a tiny piece of solace in my yoga practice where my wonderful teachers offered Buddhist and Yogic teachings along with breath, movement, and the introduction to presence. When my mother passed away five years later, I was able to find a greater source of comfort in my yoga study. As I practiced the asanas, the physical practice, I immersed also in the teachings and the meditation. I could spend time with my parents spirit in a new way that was certainly very sad, but also somehow comforting. I was introduced to the concept that in death the relationship doesn’t end, it just changes. Wow, that was an epiphany for me!
Then I experienced my most devastating losses. My husband had to undergo a scary and difficult second open heart surgery, from which he is now recovered. My very best, soulful, and magnificent friend of 40 years, Kaiya, passed on after a 17-month challenge of glioblastoma. I was crushed by her death. Three years earlier, my fabulous, and wonderful, big sister, Susie, was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. Susie succumbed a short four months after Kaiya. My two best, intimate, confidants, mentors, and personal cheerleaders were gone from my physical life. The two strong, amazing women I had leaned on and learned from were gone. The emptiness was bottomless.
And then there was my yoga. My yoga practice held a space for me for grief, presence, solace, stillness, and movement. I immersed in yoga as the tears flowed during my teacher training and continued studies. I found the study of the chakras, the seven main physical, emotional, and spiritual energy centers to meet my mourning in a way that opened a passageway for me. For example, when I felt ungrounded, unsafe, and untrusting I looked into my Root Chakra, my Mudlahara. I found I could put myself on the earth, breath into my root, and practice gentle yoga that was focussed on my feet, legs, and lower spine. I could breath into that space, say affirmations that I was grounded, visualize the color red, hold my hands in a configuration, a mudra, that connected me to the earth, and I was present. I learned to tend to my grief, not avoid it. I learned to go through my grief to get to the other side, not around it. I learned how to be still, be present, and how to activate my Root chakra. I felt a bit more comforted from it. I went through my initial grief and my continued mourning studying and applying the practices of each the seven main chakras, the rainbow bridge, as it is called.
I joined a local hospice support group. Every grieving participant was deeply bent over, stiffened by their grief, congested, and unmoving. I spontaneously encouraged the group to gently move in their chairs and breathe with consciousness. They felt better! Much to my surprise, I was then asked to lead a class of yoga to ‘heal’ grief. I said that there was no healing to our grief. We needed to learn how to live with our losses. I was then inspired to share what I have, and continue to learn, about the truly never-ending grieving process. The synergy of my passion for the study and practice of yoga and the chakras, the journey of grief from the passing of my loved ones, life’s many transitions, and my desire (Divine intervention?) to help others led to my creating Yoga for Living with Loss as a style of practice.
Since then, I have created and led Yoga for Living with Loss classes, continue to teach via zoom once a week, and now have created he Yoga for Living with Loss Video Series.
Grief is such an emotional, intellectual, and spiritual roller coaster that our grief can easily become congested in our physical bodies. Through a variety of breathing practices, gentle yoga movements, a deeper understanding of how our bodies react to grief, an examination of our specific chakras, meditation, and our need for connection to others, Yoga for Living with Loss helps us to navigate our losses without getting lost.
I have developed a meaningful practice to support whoever I can in their journey of loss, grief, mourning, transition, and resilience. Yoga for Living with Loss is now my life’s work.
For more information and to access the Yoga for Living with Loss Video Series, please visit www.GrowingYoungerGracefully.com and contact me for any comments, questions, or discussion.
BIO: About Sheena Nancy Sarles
Sheena is a life long student of well-being, a certified Yoga teacher, and a world wide presenter of her created and curated Yoga for Living with Loss™ classes, workshops, and video series. She is the author of “Growing Younger Gracefully: Your Guide to Aging with Vitality, Resilience, and Pizzazz” and creator of GYG Organic Facial and Body Serums™. She has been teaches internationally and has been published in a variety of publications. She spends her time in ‘Marblehead, MA, Sausilito, CA, and Ubud, Bali. More information is available at www.GrowingYoungerGracefully.com.