In light of recent events in Manchester as well as hearing about losses that friends have suffered over the last couple of weeks, I would like to offer you a few poses that you can practice in times of grief and sorrow.
1. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog)
Downward facing dog is an excellent pose to bring yourself into the present. With its chest and shoulder opening elements alongside the release of tension in the shoulders, energy is able to flow. In times of sadness it is important to allow energy to move so that negative energy does not remain stuck in the already stiff parts of our bodies.
2. Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose)
Reclining Bound Angle pose is something that you can do anywhere in your home, no matter if in your bed or on the couch while watching television. I know that's not the proper form, but the beauty of the pose is that you can allow gravity and time to run their course. Deep hip opening poses are so beneficial, because the hips are one of the major areas in the body where we hold tension in times of stress. Use a belt so that you can completely relax into the pose. If your hips are especially tight, consider using foam blocks to support the outer hips.
3. Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
Cobra pose stretches the abdomen, shoulders, thorax and lungs. When experiencing grief often we have to remind ourselves to breathe. With each breath we experience presence, and in presence everything is allowed to simply be - without worry or regret. So it is important to continue to breathe naturally while in the pose in order to reap its full benefits. Ensure that the shoulders are rolled down and expanding so that room can come into the front chest and the lungs have room to expand and fall while the abdomen enjoys a gentle massage.
4. Sirsasana (Headstand)
For experienced practitioners I would recommend practicing headstand everyday - in general but especially in times of sorrow. There are numerous benefits to a regular headstand practice. Changing the flow of the blood allows energy to move and shift in the body, and having the heart above the head leads to a complete shift of perspective. Beginners can reap some of the same benefits by simply bringing their buttocks as close to the wall as possible and taking their legs up the wall.
5. Savasana (Corpse Pose)
Many yoga masters consider corpse pose the most challenging as it requires of us to be in complete stillness yet fully conscious, alert and awake. In this pose we are called to be as mindful as possible, consistently letting go of the thoughts that we attach to in order to allow the body, mind and spirit to recalibrate and re-align to their innate balance. All you have to do is lie down and open yourself to the gift of presence.