Antonio Sausys is a somatic psychotherapist and a yoga therapist. He specializes in yoga for grief relief. Like many of us, he found his path into yoga, and yoga therapy, as a way to heal himself.
When he was 19 years old, his mother had a stroke and passed away. She was only 54 years old. He didn’t allow himself to grieve naturally.
“Every time the grief would come, I’d switch it off,” he says.
One day, he was traveling in the Pampas of Argentina. His foot hurt, and he was diagnosed with a bone spur. His doctor insisted that the spur was a result of a physical trauma.
Yet, “I didn’t have any accident. What I did understand was that my body created this thing to say ‘hey, take care of your heart.’”
Yoga for grief
As a result, he began a yoga practice to cure his heel — and his heart. Yoga for grief. It was intuitive. To this day, he pulls from that inner wisdom. His approach to yoga for grief relief is very powerful work. He incorporates pranayama (breathwork), movement therapy including pavanmuktasana (joint freeing) and sankalpas (affirmation/pledges).
“I knew exactly what I needed. Now I know that yoga is within all of us. It’s not what we practice Mondays at 6:15 pm.”
However, culture often dictates how we respond to death. Moreover, how we grieve people’s passing. The traditional response mechanisms can vary significantly from one religion, country or society to another. That said, the grieving process is not always short, or simple. Plus, grieving is far more about loss of a loved one.
At a recent workshop on yoga for grief, Sausys talked about myths associated with the pain of grieving. Below, are summaries.
Myth #1: Grief only appears when someone dies.
Wrong. First, grief can be loss of identity. Or, it can be a result of an abusive step father. Actually, the loss doesn’t have to be a loved one. Loss of health, hair, eyesight, job, limb, expectations, hope, innocence, safety, ideals, relationships, dreams, youth, status or independence all can trigger grieving.
Furthermore, there are primary and secondary losses. Sausys says that the secodary loss can often be more difficult to overcome. It may be easier to grieve and heal from the loss of a parent or spouse. But, the secondary losses, i.e., divorce, home, friends, status, family, are a lot more prevailing.
“New grief triggers old grief. Other people’s grief triggers our own.” As an example, he says that current events can ramp up a grieving pattern.
Myth #2: Grief is purely emotional.
Next, there are many emotions that arise during the grieving, or lack of grieving, process. “Sadness is not the only feeling. Guilt. Anger. Fatigue. Social isolation,” he explains. Sometimes, grief leads to the end, or beginning, of a spiritual journey. On a physical level, our bodies respond. For example, one may be hunched over to protect the heart.
“We create body armor,” he says. Grieving is “physical, mental, social, behavioral and spiritual. There are few illnesses that present this many symptoms.”
Myth #3: Grief is the price we pay for love.
Thirdly, what causes grief is attachment. Interestingly enough, yoga teaches one to seek detachment. Namely, Asteya. Aparigraha. Santosha.
“We identify our selves with our attachments. Therefore we are no longer who we are. Re-identification is needed via self knowledge. What better than yoga to find who we really are.”
“For yoga, love is what is left after you’ve let go of everything you love. Anahatha (the heart chakra) has two chords: love and attachment. Positive and negative. In the west, love is attachment. We are hard-wired for attachment. Not so in east.”
Myth #4: Grief is short-lived.
In closing, Sausys says we don’t get over grief, just our relationship with it. Plus, our society doesn’t make it easy to grieve, naturally.
“Grievers need to be heard. We don’t have outlets to talk about grief. In a way, we are all candidates for grief burnout.”
Note: Sausys is based out of northern California. He has retreats and workshops scheduled for later this year in Canada, Chicago, Massachusetts and the Bahamas –at one of my alma maters, Sivananda. Learn more about therapeutic yoga for grief, PTSD, or other emotional or physical needs. Visit my Contact page.