My Dad passed away very suddenly on Christmas Day 2016.  I was with him when he died, it was my worst Christmas Day ever.  It hit me so much harder than I ever expected it to and that’s taking into consideration the fact that he was an AWOL part time father and full-time alcoholic who smoked like a train therefore I always knew he was going to die young and miserably.  But that’s not the story.

My dad and I

What surprised me the most about the days and months that followed was how harsh grief could be (and some days still is).  Despite being a long-time yogi and mid-training teacher, the last thing I wanted to do was get anywhere near my regular classes or even the safety of my own mat, the sanctuary of Shavasana, where my thoughts and emotions were about to implode like a ticking time bomb.

When life gets tough, it’s so tempting to hide under the duvet with a glass of wine and snacks and hope that it all goes away.  We all know it doesn’t work like that but I had a good try at this approach before spending a whole evening shouting at my better half for no good reason before I booked myself into therapy.

Therapy!  Wow!

This stuff is brilliant and possibly the most self-caring thing I have ever done for myself. Grief aside, this was a fabulously liberating experience for me and my therapist reminded me of something which is what got me through those initial months.  She reminded me that I already had ALL of the tools to handle this pain, I was just blinded by the fog that grief creates.  She likened it to a glass of water about two thirds full (bare with me on this)… normal life is a glass of ‘life’ two thirds full and we kind of keep on top of everything in their day to day.  When grief hits the glass is instantly OVERFLOWING.  Literally spilling out all over the place, like that time you forgot to turn the bath off and it is soaking through the floor into the apartment downstairs quicker than you can mop it up. That’s grief.

So, what did she tell me to?

Get. Back. On. Your. Mat.

(I can still hear her saying it even when I’ve written it!)

Breathe.

Be mindful.

Listen.

Take care of yourself.

So I did.

I cried, I slept, I breathed, I cried some more, I took long baths, I practised meditation even though I usually nod off mid-way through, I walked, I went outside, I listened to my body and I stopped.

Slowly, the tears lessened, the aches started to shift and I could get on that mat and sun salutation my ass off again.  It did take time (a loooong time).  The cliché is there for a reason but without taking time to stop amidst this process that I had no choice but to go through, I would have surely lost my mind for even longer than I already did.  I’m not over it by any stretch but I am working on it! Always!

My mat has got my back.  Yoga will always have yours.

Has yoga helped you through a particularly hard time? Feel free to share with us below!