Yoga at night

When it comes to loss or grief, all emotions are normal. From sadness, anger, helplessness, fear, guilt, and anxiety, they are all part of the grieving process. It can be painful to accept some of those feelings, naturally brushing them aside. But to move past grief, it’s important to own those emotions, and give yourself permission to be sad. Practicing yoga could be the key to soothing your heartache. Yoga is an all-encompassing transformative and restorative way to heal. It can help you: declutter your mind, focus your energy, cope with frustration, find peace, and feel a sense of community.

Here are 6 heart-centric yoga poses that give you the time and space to hang your head and mend your heart as you deal with your loss.

Heart-closing poses

When you experience grief, your body inherently draws inward as a response mechanism to loss and pain. Try these heart-closing poses that let you do just that. 

1. Balasana (Child’s Pose) Flow
This gentle resting pose stretches the hips, thighs, and legs while giving the mind a chance to calm and the body an opportunity to let go of stress and tension. Tip: Focus on your breathing, taking in and releasing full breathes. Hold the pose as long as you like.

2. Sukhasana (Comfortable Pose)
Sukhasana is practiced in a comfortable seated position. It opens the hips, lengthens the spine, and helps ground your feelings to find inner peace. Tip: Use a block to rest your forehead on as you gently fold over your legs and bend toward the floor. Hold the pose for 25 breaths.

3. Uttanasana (Standing Forward Fold)
Find strength and length in this calming forward fold. Allow your head to hang toward your heart while you dangle your arms and place your palms on the floor. Tip: It may be more comfortable to clasp opposite elbows as opposed to resting your palms on the floor. Hold the pose for 15 breaths.

Heart-opening poses

Once you’ve allowed yourself to embrace the ache of loss by practicing heart-closing poses, re-energize your spirit with these heart-opening poses.

1. Ustrasana (Camel Pose)
This backbend stretches the chest, abdomen, quadriceps, and hip flexors, improving flexibility and posture, and can help reduce stress and anxiety. Tip: Camel pose is a deep backbend so warm up with a few Sun Salutations first. Repeat this pose three times.

2. Constructive Rest Pose
Constructive rest is a safe and comfortable pose, aiming to relieve back, pelvic and leg fatigue. Lay on your back, knees bent at 90 degrees, feet flat, with a blank roll under your spine lengthwise.

3. Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
An easier backbend than the Wheel pose, Cobra is a favorite heart opener that helps reduce stress and fatigue. Cobra pose stretches the heart and lungs, and firms, tightens, stimulates, and strengthens just about every other body part imaginable. Tip: Engage your abs when doing Cobra pose to prevent over flexing your lower spine. Repeat this pose three times.

If you are experiencing loss or grief and would like to learn how yoga can help, LHAA offers classes that focus on gentle movements that can ease stress, reduce tension and anxiety, and re-energize your body, mind, and spirit.

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