A Note on Yoga for Grief

ON October 6, 2014

by Ken Breniman

Grief is a multifaceted response to loss, particularly to the loss of someone or something, who has passed away, to which a bond or affection was formed. Although conventionally focused on the emotional response to loss, it also has physical, cognitive, behavioral, social, spiritual, and philosophical dimensions. Source: Wikipedia 

I am very honored to be offering the Yoga for Grief: Healing Hearts/Healing Bodies gathering at Namaste Berkeley on Saturday, December 17th. I have been offering this workshop for the past six years throughout the Bay Area and have learned so much from the participants.

In the ancient story of “Kisa Gotami and the Mustard Seed”, Ms. Gotami realizes some form of loss has touched everyone. Over my years of leading grief healing sessions, I have realized this continues to be a truth in our modern-day society. In my experience, I have come to understand the main difference with societies understanding of grief today is how grief is quickly pathologized and so often grieving persons can feel isolated and not understood. Historically, the process of grieving has gone through many evolutionary changes due to pressure individuals receive to handle a loss in a way that is culturally acceptable.

The practice of embalming, which became standard in the funerary business around the turn of the 20th century, further dissociated us from death. Funerary directors, like doctors, became authority figures and took over the mourning process, while embalming changed how the body felt, looked, and smelled. “It’s amazing how we can block out the truth of death,” says Frank Ostaseski, who founded Zen Hospice in 1987 and the Metta Institute in 2004,  which are based in Northern California and offer educational programs about death, dying, and mourning. . “If you are surrounded by a family or a culture that says, ‘Don’t talk or think about it,’ it can hinder our capacity to acknowledge the loss.” – Excerpt from Grief is Good

My hope is that my workshop and other gatherings for the bereaved can help to normalize the grieving process. The gathering is here to provide space and create a supportive community setting for each person to show up with all their feelings and memories. Once individuals feel comfortable enough to recognize the feelings of loss we move into being able to tap into the healing powers of a yoga practice that is specifically modified to address many of the aspects of grief.

Please remember that if you are experiencing loss whether it is from early childhood or more recent, that grief can easily get stored in the body. And also remember that the human heart grieves all different types of loss. Never feel that somehow what you are grieving is ‘lesser than’ or doesn’t deserve healing. Loss can include the death of a person, death of a pet, a life transition such as a break up, a divorce, losing a job or moving. Many past participants have come to mourn the loss of a healthy happy childhood. The gathering is open to anyone who is experiencing any loss. In addition to yoga, breathwork and relaxation practices, there is also an optional ear acupuncture session offered at the end of the workshop during an extended Yoga Nidra.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about the upcoming workshop or are interested in learning more about healthy grieving.


KenProfileAKen has practiced yoga for over 10 years and became certified with Yoga Alliance as a RYT-200 after graduating from Yoga Tree’s Yoga Teacher Training program in 2006. Yoga Alliance has recognized him as a ERYT-200/RYT-500 as he completed his Yoga Therapy training at Ananda Seva Mission in July 2010.   Ken is very excited to be joining the Namaste family.

In his classes, Ken provides eclectic non-denominational Hatha yoga guidance, honoring a variety of traditions, such as Iyengar alignment principles, invigorating Kudalini Kriya, and playful Acroyoga-inspired partner work.  He invites you to embrace SIMPLICITY, PATIENCE and COMPASSION as you deepen your practice and your connection with your true Self. Ken offers Yoga Therapy workshops on a variety of topics such as restorative yoga, grief, relationships, stress management and coping with chronic illness.  In addition to yoga, Ken also serves as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, clinical supervisor and a private practice yoga therapist in the Bay Area. Daniel Quinn and Paulo Coelho are among his favorite authors.

His life work of service is inspired by Ram Dass’ words:  “We are all just walking each other hOMe.”

Please visit Ken’s website at www.kenbreniman.com  or email him at kjbreniman@gmail.

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