Yin Yoga Sequence – Grief

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Yin Yoga for Grief
Nancy Nelson

Hello, yin friends!

I hope this post finds you doing well. I received a request a while back to post a sequence that relates to grief and walking through difficult seasons. This is always something I wanted to share more about since I was deeply grieving when I first landed on my yoga mat. I was loved, nourished and supported by my yoga practice during that difficult time. The thing with grief is that it comes in waves. Every time I considered doing a sequence for grief, I couldn’t tap into what I needed to include or write and would end up not following through. As I made my way through this summer I ended up finding myself in an unexpected season of heartache. I am thankful to have my faith as my foundation and my yoga mat as my safe haven. In the midst of these hard couple of months, I put together this sequence for those of you who might be in a similar season of your life or are undergoing a wave of grief from a past loss or sorrow. I want to encourage and remind you that you are never alone, you are loved, and healing is always available. Do your best to not push away the feelings that surface. Feel what you need to feel. Acknowledge when you need to reach out to others. I have prayed over and through this sequence that it will serve you in your journey toward healing. Also, it should be mentioned that many times grief refers to the loss of life. Grief, however, is not limited to this. Grief can show up upon the end of a relationship, the transition out of a season in your life, the changing of a friendship, in times of loneliness, depression and despair. No matter where you are in all of this (past or present), your grief matters.

I’m a really big fan of Brené Brown. I recently read this quote of hers regarding dealing with grief…

“We run from grief because loss scares us, yet our hearts reach toward grief because the broken parts want to mend.” – Brené Brown

The mat is a special place because it offers us a safe area where we can be exactly as we are… angry, sad, joyful, lonely, afraid, content, etc. No matter what your grief looks like today, be with it. Allow the mending to take place how it needs to. Use this time to do absolutely nothing else besides be here, now. If you’d like to take that mantra with you into this practice, I recommend it as an anchor for your thoughts. I am here, now.

Participate in this class online!

If you would like to participate in this class in video form, I will be leading it online (in the same way I do for my webinars) on Thursday, September 27th at 10AM Central Time. You can purchase a ticket to participate in the class here. You do not have to participate live to have access to the class. I will send you an unlisted youtube link so you can practice at a time that’s convenient for you.

This is a prop heavy class. Props are a wonderful way to support the physical body, mind and spirit as we practice. Make sure you have the following props (or similar) for this sequence: blocks (2), bolster/pillow, blanket.

My Playlist

Reclined +  Supported Butterfly (5 min) – Set up your bolster at an angle on two blocks. Begin to bring your low back to the base of the bolster and wrap up your ankles with the blanket for a sense of security and support. Recline and allow your body to release into this safe space.

Yin Yoga for Grief

Stomach Revolving Twist on Bolster (3 min each side) – Rise up and begin to turn the body toward the bolster. Remove the blocks from underneath it. Line up your outer right hip with the bolster and gently rotate your torso to face the bolster and slowly fold down, landing into this gentle twist. Your gaze can stay on the same side as the knees, forward or to the opposite side.

Yin Yoga for Grief

*complete the twist on the other side before moving on*

Butterfly on Bolster (5 min) – Bring your bolster with you as you return to your butterfly legs facing forward. Set up your bolster in your lap, perhaps elevating it to an angled position by placing a block on your feet. Fold yourself forward and let all the weight of your chest and torso completely relax into the bolster. Turn your gaze to one side for the first 2.5 minutes, then switch sides.

Yin Yoga for Grief

Half Saddle + Recline to Bolster (5 min each side) – Draw the knees back together from butterfly after you remove the props. Give yourself a big hug and then begin to set up into a half saddle position, with the right foot to the outer hip. Elevate your hips to a prop here if there’s any pain or too much sensation initially. Begin to recline back onto the hands, a bolster or to the floor. Do not rush, you have time. Allow your breath to guide the process. For a deeper variation, draw the other legs knee in toward the chest (pictured, bottom right). Otherwise, that leg can go straight or bent into a deer position (pictured, bottom left).

Yin Yoga for Grief

Deer (3 min) – Slowly rise back up. Keeping your right leg as is begin to drop the left knee out to the left and allow the heel of the foot to snuggle up next to the right knee/thigh. Begin to fold forward or slightly at an angle to the left. Utilize your props for support here.

Yin Yoga for Grief

*repeat reclined saddle and deer pose on the other side before moving on*

Sphinx w/Hips on Bolster, Head to Block (5 min) – Release the previous pose and take any desired counter poses or movements. When you feel balanced, begin to come down to the belly situating a blanket or bolster under the pelvis/hips. Elevate yourself onto the forearms for sphinx pose. On an exhale allow the gaze to close down and perhaps drop the head to rest onto a block.

Yin Yoga for Grief

Childs on Bolster (3 min) – Press your weight gently back so you can drop the hips to the heels, taking the knees wide. Situate your bolster/pillow under the chest and melt the torso over the prop. Drop your head to one side for about half the time and then switch to the other side. Arms can drape out to the sides or back behind you, letting the shoulders hang toward the floor.

Yin Yoga for Grief

Savasana (7-10 min) – From childs pose, begin to make your way to a comfortable savasana position, to allow the energy and space created in the practice to settle in and through you. If you want, recline onto your back with your knees elevated onto a blanket/bolster and your heels resting onto two blocks.

Yin Yoga for Grief

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13 Responses

  1. thank you so very much for this sequence. I tap into your sequences often for inspiration in my practice. this is so very heartfelt. love, light and blessings to you.

  2. This!
    This rocks my practice. Not a hard core rock, but a nurturing, swaddled, held in love rock.
    Thank you for sharing.

  3. I LOVE this. I too found grief brought me to my mat and helped me begin my practice and have been struggling with the same. I did my YTT thesis on healing grief through yoga, but couldn’t find it in myself to write out a sequence to practice with a group. i’m so grateful. I see and bow to your light. Namaste

    1. Hi Christina! Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I’m grateful that this sequence will coincide with the important work you’re already doing! May you be well.

  4. Nancy … I stumbled across your page in one of my random google searches. After reading through some of your content, I immediately bookmarked your page & signed up for your newsletter. Please keep up the great & inspiring work … with love & light. SJB

    1. Hey Samantha! Thanks so much for your support and I’m so glad you found my site <3 Happy to know it's a good resource for you!

  5. Thank you so much for offering this, I just signed up for the class. My brother passed away almost three years ago, and yoga has been my saving grace. I very much look forward to this offering on the 27th. Much Love, Shelley

    1. Hey Shelley! I’m looking forward to hosting the class and grateful to have you there. I’m very sorry for your loss. I truly cannot imagine. You are loved and your mat is there to catch you when you need it. Much love. May you be well, sister!

  6. I went to a back bending class with a lady called Candice, Saturday just passed….. I see here that she took us through all these poses…. I at one stage started crying and could not breathe (my mother and grand mother passed a few years ago in a car accident)… this buried grief I felt came out in class….. I realised this after the session and today I sit here and am filled with gratitude as I see this post. I am at peace, but will still continue to follow through with these poses until I feel clear. Namaste

    1. Hey Nancy. Thank you so much for stopping by my blog and for commenting and sharing. I’m so sorry for your loss. I cannot imagine what pain you have gone through in losing such instrumental family members. Yoga has a way of taking us into the places of ourselves that we feel are long forgotten and making us come face to face with difficulty. The benefit? Once we look our pain in the eyes, we are able to also wholeheartedly move forward. The pain doesn’t go away and grief is sure to pop up where we don’t want it to, but being candid and honest about our grief enables us to put one foot in front of the other. Even if we cry every step of the way! My thoughts and prayers are with you today and I’m happy my post brought about some gratitude for you <3

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Titles for Website (38)
Nancy Nelson
Nancy Nelson
Nancy is the fearless leader here at Nancy Nelson Yoga! She has been instructing yoga since 2012 and is certified as a Registered Yoga Teacher (E-RYT 500, YACEP) with Yoga Alliance. She loves guiding yoga classes in all forms – from sweaty vinyasa flows, to slow mindful movement - but her favorite style to practice and teach is yin yoga. She attended a formal 50-hour Yin Yoga training with Bernie Clark and Diana Batts in the fall of 2018 and it truly propelled her into developing her yin focused website, webinars and trainings.

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