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How Yoga Helped Me Through My Grief

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!

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5 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Someone else’s daughter

    October 8, 2017 at 3:24 pm

    Wow !
    That’s so brave, and so tough. You’re never old enough to lose your Dad x

  2. Avatar

    Kelly

    October 9, 2017 at 12:10 pm

    Wow. Just came on here today after losing my dad a week ago on the 2nd. Just what I needed to read today. Losing a parent (whatever the relationship is) is like losing a part of yourself. I was with my dad when he died as well and it is without a doubt the worst day of my life. Sending you love and thank you for being brave enough to share this.

    1. Tiffany Edmunds

      Tiffany Edmunds

      October 9, 2017 at 1:32 pm

      Oh Kelly! I’m so pleased you found this useful at this horrendous time! You’ll get through it I promise, thinking of you and completely devastated for your loss. I googled ALOT of grief advice after Dad passed as I couldn’t find the manual on how to handle it anywhere!! (FYI – there isn’t one) but whatever helps you find some peace is also OK, just take care of yourself above all else. Much love xx

  3. Avatar

    Tomia

    October 13, 2017 at 3:14 am

    I just found this article after stumbling across badyogi on ’50 yoga blogs to follow In 2017″. This is a replica of my own journey. I had a different form of grief happen in my life, but non the less painful. For a year I didn’t get on my mat… Upon reflection now I can see that if I had, I would have had to accept I was worthy of doing something for myself and I didn’t feel that way. After numerous panic attacks, I got therapy and got told to roll out my mat, to feel what I’m feeling, allow and release. Self love to me is the back bone of all that we are. How we feel about ourselves reflects on all those around us. Yoga is my daily therapy, it’s a constant reminder that we a worthy, we are loved and to have gratitude. It’s my 30minutes to and hour to say ‘I love you’ to myself. Yoga has changed my life.. Namaste!

  4. A little bit about me – Yoga Coffee Nappies

    May 19, 2019 at 12:28 pm

    […] Last year I qualified as a Hatha Yoga teacher. I haven’t started teaching yet because I fell pregnant so quickly and those first few months were not only ROUGH AF (a whole post coming on that shit show) but also my yoga practice actually had to change quite a bit to safely accommodate a baby being on board. I hope to expand on my fitness qualifications next year after babe has arrived. I found yoga maybe 10 years ago and have dipped in and out over the years. I leaned heavily on my practice when my Dad died on Christmas Day 2016. (I know, that is such a sucky day to lose a loved one!) I wrote about that a little more on the Bad Yogi mag here. […]

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