My training as a Professional Yoga Therapist with Ginger Garner guided my career as a Physical Therapist, ensuring it was evolving alongside my personal practise and included addressing all the koshas in my client assessments and treatment plans.
Yoga, once again, paved a refreshing way for me to guide my patients to look within themselves and discover the power of self healing on their journey to health and wellness. My own yoga practise deepened each year, even each day. If you read my ‘yoga journey’, you will see that in 2012, I shared that ‘yoga’, for me, is really all about love. I discovered that the power of love and connection can also heal, and was the ultimate force for healing. I thought I had it all figured out.
However, to my surprise, I recently discovered yet another new ‘gift’ that yoga has to offer. I was attending Eoin Finn’s Yoga Teacher Training with an amazingly consciously aware group of 28 yogis and we had several days of deep intellectual discussions about defining labels such as ‘love’, ‘God’, ‘truth’, ‘soul’, ‘energy’, ‘source’ and ‘gratitude’. We all dug deep and revealed our own dharma statements (life purpose and mission). For those that are familiar with Eoin’s work, you know that he has an amazing gift and skill of being able to combine these deep philosophical conversations together with education about biomechanical alignment principles and safety in asana practise.
Before I explain this additional ‘gift’ that yoga has presented to me, I need to first discuss the basis for which it was founded on, the concept or social movement of “Blissology” by Eoin Finn. Eoin defines his term, Blissology as ‘the art of living a full life by awakening a deep joy inside of us and using it to build harmonious relationships with our body-mind, our personal relationships, with our communities and with nature’. Basically, the more we can find and connect to that ‘space’ inside of us that is the stillness, the light, the truth, the force (or whatever we want to label it as) the more we can be aware and connected with our own true selves and bodies, resulting in a deeper connection with others, with our community and ultimately with nature and the planet. This opens us up to a kindness and a purpose that is bigger than ourselves. As a result, we end up discovering that we treat ourselves, others, and nature with much more love and respect than we ever could have imagined. As Eoin states: ‘the line between where we end and nature begins becomes blurred’.
So it was 9 days into the intensive training, and with this new “Blissology” movement in mind, the Tuesday morning topic was ‘how does grief fit into Blissology?’
Ironically, that same morning, my grandma died.
It was that morning when I started to learn about a new gift that yoga had to offer. For me, yoga was a portal that led and allowed me to deeply and courageously be aware of and feel pain, loss, and also experience grieving in a raw and authentic way by first helping me to connect to that ‘space’ and ‘truth’ within me. That, in turn somehow allowed me to connect with others on that same level. It was this connection and awareness that seemed to bring me peace, joy, comfort and love at the exact same time as I was experiencing sadness, pain, loss and grief. It was something I had not experienced so intensely before. I have certainly felt something similar, but never have felt it quite like this. It was like I gave myself full permission to shamelessly and whole heartedly accept and feel the darkness: to be sad and to grieve, and to be okay with it, without resistance. In a sense, I suppose I was practising the niyama of santosha, full acceptance and contentment of the truth, with gratitude. Although I’ve experienced this to a lesser degree in the past, this time there was a difference, and I feel it was the connection to community and nature that tipped this experience towards a more ‘blissful’ one, even at a time of deep sadness.
The morning my grandma died, I experienced a moment in Savasana (relaxation at the end of asana practise) when I felt extremely vulnerable and scared. In Savasana, we lie on our backs with our palms and chest open to the sky. I felt so sad and the thoughts of losing my grandma felt so painful that I could hardly breathe and I had feelings of fear, anxiety, and felt physically sick. I felt weak. But I somehow sensed a welcoming and supportive force from the group. For some reason I felt the need to roll onto my right side during Savasana. So, without thinking, I just curled up into the fetal position, let go, and just started crying. The person next to me, whom I had only known for 9 days silently held and gently squeezed my hand and supported my head. I felt a deep sense of non-judgement, acceptance, connection and most importantly, love. I felt safe again. It felt good. It all came together. I just experienced an intense “a-ha” moment.
So this was what Eoin maybe was talking about: “the importance of grief”, he says, “is that when we plug into grief, we plug into a network of human experience and realize what it means to be fully human – it connects us to a force that binds us all… LOVE.”
Later on, another soul from our group connected with me after our traditional round of blissology hugs and reminded me to be a ‘witness and observe’ all that I am experiencing throughout this time of sadness and to light a candle for my grandma and do a dance and celebrate. The group reached out and dedicated a special meditation and chant in support and love.
There were many more examples of support and reaching out as the day progressed before I returned back home to be with my
I believe that yoga helps me to be open to experiencing my emotions without censorship or shame, and therefore helps me to be completely present and ‘real’ with my family. I believe that this has a ripple effect, and in turn, has the power to radiate a sense of acceptance, support and love to others around me as well. I feel that the result is an even deeper level of interconnectedness with my family, friends and the surrounding community.
So that’s the most recent addition to ‘my yoga journey’ story for now.
In honour of my beloved and amazing grandma, Lena Prosko, I’d like to share some of the gratitude intentions that I had the privilege of sharing at her memorial service:
“Grandma, thank you for your comforting words and advice when we were troubled and confused. Thank you for consistently dedicating your prayers to your family, friends, and all those who suffered around the world. Thank you for the way you taught us to love and support each other.
Thank you for showing us how to be accepting and non-judgemental of other people, no matter what. Thank you for living such an amazing life of courage and immense strength because it is through your bravery and sacrifices that we (your family) all have the privilege of living such enriched and abundant lives.
Grandma, thank you for your generous heart and bright smile and shining eyes that you always shared to radiate and connect your spirit to us and the world. Thanks for showing us what love really is.”