Book your session
Two racially ambigous female bodied people with sad expressions holding each other, demonstrating their experience of grief and mourning as high achieving leaders in need of a yoga therapy practice to improve their clarity, self compassion, and focus so they can achieve their goals.

Yoga Therapy: A holistic approach to grief and mourning

acute pain depression eating disorder exhaustion expressive writing health health benefits of yoga help holistic yoga therapy inclusive therapy mental health toronto trauma yoga therapy yoga toronto Aug 12, 2023

"Grief is not a disorder, a disease or a sign of weakness. It is an emotional, physical and spiritual necessity, the price you pay for love. The only cure for grief is to grieve."
Earl Grollman

Change and the loss that accompanies it can be the most stressful thing that you will experience - whether it is the loss of a loved one, of work, or of something you hold dear. Grief is a normal response to loss. Grief reactions are not based on socioeconomic or educational status, or number of losses experienced and there is no a right or wrong way to grieve after a loss.

To paraphrase Anne Cushman, former editor of Yoga Journal, "Grief shows us how we are attached, including the glorious aspects, of how we are woven into the world and linked to everything that is." Yoga philosophy reminds us that suffering is universal. No one is immune.

While our specific experiences are unique, the suffering is the same. We will all experience loss, and the associated pain. Grief is the critical, clensing emotion that is a natural reaponse to change, and loss. Suppressing grief, particularly if you have a pre-disposition can change the fluid nature of grief into the stagnancy of depression. Yoga can be particularly useful for remaining in the present moment, experiencing the ebb and flow of grief, and to truly feel what is happening, instead of damming the flow- resulting in an eventual overwhelming flood.

The experiences of grief and mourning are part of what make us human. These experiences are not linear. They take time and your journey through grief will be different than anyone else's'. While it can seem like something only you are experiencing, you do not have to go through the journey alone.

Working with a yoga therapist, as part of your support system can help in a few ways. The one-to-one relationship you create with your yoga therapist can be a nurturing model for self healing, which makes the quality of that relationship vital. It is important that you seek out a therapist with whom you can create a stable emotional container to support your grieving, mourning and healing processes.

How your yoga therapist can support you

Integrated individualized care

Yoga therapy is designed to be personalized. In our work together, your practice will be tailored to meet your needs, preferences and cultural practices. I do not make assumptions about your wishes and decisions and recognize that institutional practices and protocols we well as my belief systems can be unhelpful and even harmful. Instead, I approach our time together with empathy and compassion to help restore your a sense of control which is crucial since it may affect your long-term wellbeing. In order to provide holistic care that is sensitive to your needs, I deliberately take a person-centred integrated approach.

This integration considers your personal, cultural, spiritual and religious needs so we are both aware of  how these may affect your decisions about care for yourself. In addition, I work cooperatively with other members of your care team, and am happy to communicate and coordinate with them as part of a truly holistic solution.

This collaborative approach to your care can help ensure that all health care team members have accurate and current information. This means that all involved in caring for you know your preferences and decisions, and you do not need to repeatedly explain your situation. 

Assessment to develop a personalized approach to healing

As your yoga therapist, I will work with you to understand where you are in your experience of grief and mourning, deepen your awareness of your relationship with grief and mourning as part of the yogic practice of svadhyaya or self study. We could explore your:

Physical experience of grief

We'll explore your physical experience of grief and design a practice to help relieve the discomfort from these symptoms while regulating your nervous system:

  • changes in appetite
  • changes in sleep pattern, including trouble falling or staying asleep
  • tightness, or heaviness, in your chest or throat
  • oversensitivity to noise
  • difficulty breathing
  • feeling very tired and weak
  • a lack of energy
  • dry mouth
  • aches and pains. 

Social experience of grief

In addition to addressing physical symptoms, we'll explore

  • your past experiences and customary way of dealing with loss, death or other change situations
  • cultural or religious practices that you may wish to observe or that may constrain you from the experience you desire 
  • your relationships, involvement and desires for support from others in the grieving process
  • your social support system

As part of exploring the social experience, I might provide you with expressive writing exercises to help you articulate your experience so you can understand the importance of expressing the feelings you are having, share this with your family and supporters to help them understand and accept your feelings and gain hope that the pain will diminish through social connection.

Spiritual experience of grief

Yoga recognizes that your spiritual nature is broader than organized religion. your spiritual needs needs may be heightened at the time of loss. If you don't have an established spiritual practice, or affiliation with a recognized group we could explore

  • what gives meaning to life 
  • what meaning is associated with the experience of loss
  • The kind of faith you hold and your connection to it
  • If your faith is part of an official religious affiliation and if so, how are the associated practices related to grief and mourning serving you

Compassionate Communication

As a yoga therapist, I recognize that we are equal being and strive to communicate with you as I would with myself. This includes compassionate and open communication to support your informed choice and individualized care. Compassionate communication, the most important element of providing care includes listening deeply and providing clear, accurate information in a sensitive manner so that you're aware of all your options and have the necessary information and time to make the decisions that are right for you.

Identifying a model for coping

Following your assessment we might explore a few coping models to determine which one best aligns with your desired outcomes, so we can weave it into your practice. Yoga therapy recognizes that grief and mourning are not linear experiences, and so your practice might move between stages of a model, or between models. Examples include:

Dual Process Model of Coping

You might alternate between 2 coping processes:

  1. being focused on adjusting to a loss
  2. being focused on how to move on in light of the loss

Shifting between these processes is a dynamic way of being with grief as you adjust to your new way of being after a loss or change. Both perspectives are necessary to adapt to your new reality.

Task Model of Coping

In this model of working with grief, there are 4 mourning activities that should be completed in order so that you can restore a sense of equilibrium. These are:

  1. accepting the reality of the loss;
  2. processing the pain of grief;
  3. adjusting to the new reality
  4. finding an enduring connection with what was lost while moving forward with life.

Caring Model of Coping

In this model, I will work with you to as you find ways to relate to loss through five processes:

  1. knowing, including understanding the meaning of your experience
  2. being with you as you find ways to share your experience and associated emotions
  3. doing for including practice design to guide actions that support coping
  4. enabling by holding space for you to go through the experience as it makes sense for you
  5. maintaining belief by promoting an attitude of hope, resilience and adaptability in the face of change

You can learn more about these coping models, and how I collaborate with you to design and adapt yoga practices that support you through your experience of grief and mourning.  They will help you reconnect with your body, breath and mind so you can achieve your goals and feel your best. 

Schedule your free no obligation call now and we can explore working together to navigate grief and mourning in and integrated, holistic way that supports your wellbeing.


Feel more energized, focused and mindful.

Book your FREE consultation

Stay connected with news and updates!

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.