Yoga for Grief Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 4

Meeting Again

25 min - Practice


Michelle guides us through a quiet practice of simple, supportive movements. She provides clear and easy alignment instructions to help provide a safe container in which to feel.
What You'll Need: Mat, Blanket, Block (2)


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We're going to start in a seat. So make yourself comfortable sitting up on your yoga blanket or whatever you have. And once you land, any kind of crossed legs works. We're just going to rock the pelvis forward and back a few times. Feel how you roll in back of your sitting bones, those bony bones in your seat on either side and then forward of the sitting bones.

Just shifting. You might allow your eyes to be open here and orient to the space around you, just really letting yourself land and settle. And then find a middle place, somewhere in between the two extremes where you feel like you're right on top of those sitting bones, the place that allows your spine to be free and light and your breath to be easy. And we'll take three full cycles of breath here, in and out through the nose at your own pace. And then picking up the hands, loosening the arms and shoulders a little bit.

And we'll start with just really simple finger hand movements. You might imagine your hands and fingers like tentacles, maybe in water or in mud. Just getting all of the joints to wiggle and move. And then a loose fist, really loose, starting to circle, keeping the shoulders relaxed, the face relaxed, and circle the other direction. Changing direction one more time and then shaking out the hands.

Let the arms release down to your sides and start some shoulder circles. Big and sloppy, your spine can move, let your head follow along. They don't even have to be symmetrical, so as you change direction you might find that one shoulder wants to go the other way or at a different pace. And then let the shoulders come up around the ears, give a little squeeze, and on an exhale release. Taking a lean over to your left.

You can prop up on fingers here or you can land on your hand. We'll take the right arm up and then just over the ear for a side bend. If this feels good you can stay here. You have the option of making a couple of circles with this arm. Both directions.

And then landing back in that arm over ear side bend, if you've been moving. And use the reach of this right arm up and over to take you all the way to the other side. Again, on fingers or palm, left arm follows. You can pause, you can stay in the reach, or you could take that into some circles. We're massaging the lung, moving the ribs with this movement, getting some fresh air into the body.

Coming back to that side bend reach and then letting the left arm pull you up and back to center. Again, just sort of shaking off, shaking out the shoulders. And then we'll stretch out the legs, give them a break. Wiggle the toes, move the ankles, take your hands to your knees and just rub the knees, soft backs of the knees, and take a moment here to just check in with how you're feeling. If emotion arises in this practice, let it be without fixating on it, without pushing it away.

You can just let it be with you and practice with you. We're going to come on over to all fours. Take your blanket or cushion with you if you like a little padding underneath the knees. You can have the hands a little forward of the shoulders if that helps further wrists and makes you feel a little more stable in your base. Take a moment to step the hands, one and then the other, right where they are, just kind of feeling your place on the floor, on the ground.

And when you feel connected there, press down with your hands, press with your knees and let the back round into a cat pose. Let the head go, neck is easy. Lifting from the tail, the spine ripples into the sway back cow. We'll take the chest forward through the arms. As you breathe here, keep the back of the neck long so you're looking more down than forward.

And then we'll go to and fro here at your own pace into the round Halloween cat and into the sway back cow. A time or two more. And then we'll come back into the sway back cow and take a couple of breaths here. Get this sense of the girdle-like support across your belly, around the sides and across the front of the abdomen. And rather than coming back into the cat, we're going to come into a neutral spine by gathering that support and lifting the organs up around the spine.

And just that subtle movement will bring us back to a neutral tabletop-like position. Feel what that's like, that sense of containment and support around your core. Feel the grounding of your hands and your knees and the tops of your feet. And then from here we'll come back into a child's pose. You can widen the knees a little bit, maybe the toes come together.

Taking the body back, maybe stacking the hands as a pillow for the head or letting the head come all the way down. Rising back up. We'll grab the blocks here, if you have blocks. Take them to the front of your mat on the highest height. You can keep your hands on the blocks as you step your left foot forward.

And take a moment to settle here, to again really feel the ground, feel the support underneath you. So as you settle your hips down and forward, see, like actually look at your front knee landing over your heel. Let the front of the body, the collar bones, the chest widen a little bit as you look maybe just forward of your mat, neck is long. Standing here, a tether or like a pulley from your left sitting bone back to your right heel. Again, the sense of containing, being held.

And then on an exhale, that pulley draws from the left side, draws the pelvis back. You might walk the blocks back or your hands on the floor. And we'll roll onto the left heel and then place the foot down again. So a couple of times onto the heel and foot flat again. You can adjust the blocks or adjust where your arms are if that feels right.

Front knee can be a little bent. You might be feeling this in the hamstrings, in the back of the front leg. Pause the next time your foot is lifted and you're on the heel. Give that little left sitting bone pulley a little tug to the back ankle. And then allow your body weight to come forward, come back up to high blocks, revisit that lunge and then step the left foot back.

Now we'll come forward with the right leg. New side, so take a moment to settle here. As the hips come down and forward, feel on this side, that little pulley from your right sitting bone back to the left heel. And as you get that sense of containment in the lower body, let there be a little elongation and freedom of the upper body, shoulders low and wide, neck long, breath easy. And then we'll come into that movement as we draw back with the hips.

Back the blocks up, make any adjustment there with your hands that you need to for comfort. We'll keep pulling back, roll onto the right heel and then come forward to the foot again. Being aware of how the body feels, the sensations and reminding yourself that it's okay to feel good, it's okay to feel pleasant sensations. Let's stay on the heel now for a couple of breaths. It's okay to feel pleasant sensations even as we might still be in grieving, we might still have the experience of discomfort and fear and pain.

There's enough room for all of it to be here. Coming forward to the lunge again, revisiting that long spine, long neck. And then stepping back. We're going to transition to a seat. So take your blanket if you were using it and bring yourself into a seat again.

So once you land and settle here in the seat again, we'll take a simple twist, easy. Right hand palm open inside of right leg and then spiraling the left fingertips around so they're just gently on the floor or the blanket behind you. And without using the push of the arms, feeling a very kind of organic turning spiraling rotation, that can include the head, just take care to not create any strain in the neck by looking too far. Let's keep it really gentle, really soft, really three dimensional. Moving with the breath, softening any points of tension on the exhale and continuing to feel the support of the ground underneath you.

When your next exhale arrives, let it unwind you back to center, check in, and then we'll try the other side. So left palm open inside of left knee, coming around with the right fingers just as a prop giving you a little bit of support. And then finding that even rotation, that easy turning, soft through the neck, through the face. And then catching your next exhale to unwind back to center. Check in with the spine, with the shoulders, with the neck.

And then we'll just do a little kind of face clearing, face sweep with the fingers across the forehead, really light sweeping across the forehead, across the eyes, the cheeks, the mouth. You can do that a couple of times if you want to sweep over your hair you can, or down your neck you can. And then flick your fingers off. So now we'll come into what we're going to call a butterfly hug. You'll cross your forearms in front of your chest and hold opposite upper arms with your hands.

And you just get a sense of how that feels, how that touch, how that again kind of containment or hug feels. And then you have the option of using your fingers and hands like little wings, your butterfly wings, and starting to flutter or open one hand and then the other on the arm. You can do that really slow side to side if it feels right, maybe both at the same time. This is meant to be a really soothing, regulating practice, so notice how it is for you. And then let's start to take that into a little bit more of a squeeze.

So you're using your hands to really gently give a little squeeze, a little hug, a little compression down the arms toward the elbows, even down opposite forearms and wrists to the hands. And then just giving a squeeze to each hand with the other hand. We'll take that idea of pressing or squeezing onto the legs, so put your hands on your thighs and just give a press of each leg down toward the knees. This can be really grounding, it can help you find your boundaries or your edges, can be soothing. Again, really soothing and comforting for the nervous system.

Whatever part of the legs you can touch, just giving a gentle squeeze and a little press. And then release when you're ready, we're gonna come down onto the back. Move any props, come on down to the back of your body with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. This is called constructive rest, you can have your hands on your abdomen or your legs or down at your sides. We'll take a couple of breaths here, just landing and noticing what it's like to be in this new orientation to feel the back of your body on the ground.

And then using the grounding of the legs to come into a bridge pose. So feeling in your mind's eye that your ankles are underneath your knees, your legs are hip distance and on an exhalation pressing into the feet to lift the back of the pelvis, the back of the body just a little bit off of the ground. Then ease yourself back down, lowering to the ground again, we'll do that one more time. Bring the feet downward, knees go forward to lift the back of the body off of the floor. Lowering back down, bring one leg and then the other into the torso and hold the legs either over the shins or in the folds of the knees and rock a couple of times side to side.

And then coming back to a centered place and placing your feet back on the ground in that constructive rest, arms down at your sides relaxed. You can kick your heels out just a little bit wider than your toes here and let your inner knees rest together if that feels good. We'll take a couple of breaths, quiet, just letting the practice settle in the body here. You can keep your eyes open or closed. And then bringing a little wiggle back into fingers, toes, maybe rolling the head.

Side to side, heavy, side to side a couple of times. Let the knees come back in toward the torso. And then we'll roll all the way over to the right side, you can use your right arm as a pillow if you like, pause there and then continue to turn as though you're turning your chest and your face toward the floor. As you press up, coming back into that starting seat. Get a sense of your overall state here, how your body feels, what your energetic mental state is.

Thank yourself for practicing, for caring for your body in this way. When you tend to your physical body and give it care, the rest of what you're handling is just the tiny, tiniest bit lighter. Thank you so much for your practice.


Martha K
1 person likes this.
I am rarely this kind to myself. I found this practice to be gentle, soothing, sweet and grounding. Lovely.
Michelle Marlahan
It makes my heart sing to hear this. Kindness is Queen   May there be more moments like this to come.
Peter Ferber
1 person likes this.
My favorite line of Michelle's, in this sequence is the following: "If emotion arises in this practice, let it be.  Don't fixate on it, don't turn it away.  Let it be with you and practice with you." 

The line reminds me of college days, when I read about Plato's Cave, in English class.  Plato creates a scenario in which our perception is metaphorically referenced as the reflection of shadows, from a flickering flame, on a wall.  He pontificates, at length, about the significance they have to our psyche, how real they seem, how  endlessly exciting and dramatic they are. 

I imagine Michelle coming on to the scene and saying, "Hey, buddy!  If you turn around, you'll see Joey here, waving a lit candle around.  Our Shakespearean scholar here (funny, ain't it, that Shakespeare was born long after I died) gave him "Puck" as a nickname.  Try your hand at differentiating between his antics and what he's hiding or masquerading as."  How's that for a paraphrasing? 

What's so awesome about your wise council is that it's borne of your practice, and your practice fully supports your wise council.  
~ Peter Ferber

Peter Ferber
Oops, I made a pronoun gaffe.
...scholar here ("Excuse me, Michelle," Plato interrupted.  "Who's Shakespeare?")...
Michelle Marlahan
Thanks for making me smile! Yes, with practice the wise council is more available... which nudges us back into practice. What a wonderful reciprocity.
Peter Ferber
1 person likes this.
Who knew "Yoga for Grief" could be delightful?
There is nothing more touching or healing than vulnerability, our own or another's. Your vulnerability and the way it informs this lovely practice has helped me to move more fully into my heart on this sunny autumn day all the way down here in Aotearoa (New Zealand). Thank you Michelle
Michelle Marlahan
Thanks so much for the note. Agreed on vulnerability... and how beautiful that your practice led you more fully into your heart. Such a gift.
Grateful to be connected... from the other hemisphere

Judith G
1 person likes this.
Very considerate and beautiful practice. Thank you so much.
Michelle Marlahan
Judith G - so glad you enjoyed it!
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