The pain and sadness associated with loss can creep into our consciousness without warning. Whether one is experiencing a breakup, a failed marriage, financial problems or the death of a loved one or pet, yoga can be an effective solution for redirecting feelings of despair. The mindfulness and meditation that are integral parts of yoga practice, also play a role in helping ease emotional distress.
Loss can cause us physical pain due to physiological factors such as the presence of neurochemicals. Two in particular, dopamine and oxytocin, surge when we are happy and can induce various degrees of well-being and even euphoria. The feelings associated with being in love or embarking on an exciting new career are times when those “feel-good” hormones may course through our bodies. However, when we experience loss, the levels of those chemicals can drop and trigger the release of stress hormones, like adrenaline, cortisol, and epinephrine. When stress hormones are activated, blood flow can increase and cause our muscles to become tense.
Moving through yoga poses and mindful breathing can serve to counteract stress and even relieve emotional distress and grief. Regular yoga practice can be an excellent self-care strategy that allows us to focus inwardly and relax as our minds and bodies become calm.
Yogi, Seane Corn created a yoga sequence to help her deal with the extreme grief after she lost her father to kidney cancer. In an article for Yoga Journal, Corn recalled that difficult time: “I realized you can’t just process heartbreak in your mind. You have to process it physically, too.” The series of poses and movements that she created helped her combat muscle tension and find her physical and emotional center, which in turn allowed her to deal with her difficult loss.
Corn’s “Yoga for Heartbreak” features nine poses. Please have a look at them here.
If emotional pain, anxiety, or sadness becomes unmanageable, or there are concerns about the risk of harm to oneself or others, it is important to seek the care of a medical or mental health professional.
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