During the 2015 Association for Death Education and Counseling conference, Dr. Heidi Horsley spoke with Antonio Sausys from Uruguay. Sausys operates a program that integrates yoga techniques and therapies that combine the mind, body and spirit “in order to help grievers go through the difficult process.” Contrary to popular belief, grief is not purely emotional—or even largely emotional at times. “It has so many important and massive involvements of the body,” he explains. Helping people sleep better, return to normalized eating habits and handle physical pain that often gathers in the chest area after a loss is Sausys’ specialty.
The endocrine system can also get a shock after a loss, and yoga can help re-balance it. Humans often try to avoid unpleasant feelings, but they can’t be ignored. Instead, they re-emerge as tension throughout the body. “Movement and feeling are directly associated,” he says. When a person doesn’t want to feel something unpleasant, they block it out and subsequently block their body. If this goes unaddressed for a long time, it can lead to chronic pain.
“Yoga is a masterful technique to undo that armoring,” Sausys says. Your body holds emotions, blocks access to them, and focusing on bodily and mental health is key. “This is why a lot of people cry in yoga practice,” he says. Sometimes people know why, sometimes not, but it’s incredibly cathartic. Sausys is a yoga teacher offering group and private classes, and is also the author of Yoga for Grief Relief, which is available on Amazon and through major bookstores.
From inversions to heart openers, there are many aspects of yoga that can be highly beneficial to those in grief. Plus, caring for the whole body is critical to healing from any sort of trauma.