There’s everything from chocolate yoga to cat yoga to trap yoga, but there’s also a not-so carefree counterpart: grief yoga, which has provided healing for those suffering since long before cats made their way to the mat. We spoke with Beth Shaw — founder and president of YogaFit, the largest yoga training and certification program in the world — about the merits of this often-overlooked method of healing and how to practice it.
Shaw first experienced the interaction of grief and yoga after a breakup in her late 20s. She says she immersed herself in yoga daily to the point where it became her new “anchor,” replacing the old one of her ex-boyfriend and their romantic connection. “You know, science has shown that a broken heart is legitimate,” shares Shaw. More than simple sadness, grief can be all-consuming. “Grief is a mind-body experience,” Shaw agrees, explaining that it can affect one’s hormone production, cortisone levels, appetite, sleep patterns, energy levels, heart rate, and more. It makes sense, then, that yoga, a bodily activity, can help mitigate the overwhelming emotion. Yoga is a “healing tool,” Shaw says. “It can lift you from the depths of despair.”