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    We're heading into a full year of COVID-19 turning our lives inside out. Have you had yourself a pity party yet? Have you thrown what felt like an adult temper tantrum lately? I confess, I've done both! We're affected by grief and loss in ways we might not recognize. If we have loved ones who have been ill or died, the grief is tangible. You don't have to look far to grasp the immense suffering that surrounds us. Just being exposed to trauma of those we know or from the media can cause vicarious loss and trauma. Grieving has been made more difficult by the restrictions on public gatherings, social isolation and limited access to support services.

    I do not want to minimize the momentous losses and grief that many people are experiencing. I do want to draw attention to the many intangible losses that we may be experiencing and can elicit a grief response. They may seem small and even insignificant, especially when held up against the suffering that surrounds us. However, I think it's important to recognize what is happening so we can respond to our personal and very real grief.

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     My yoga specialties infographic


    Where there is trauma, there is grief.
    Trauma always involves loss. A person's life changes after trauma. It's not an option to just go back to life as it was before the trauma. Some people describe their life in two parts: life before the trauma and life after the trauma.

    Where there is grief, there can be trauma.
    Many, but not all losses involve trauma. People respond differently to similar events, thus some will experience trauma with grief and others will not.Psychologists Pat Ogden and Janina Fisher identify trauma as any stressful experience that leaves us feeling helpless, frightened, overwhelmed or profoundly unsafe.

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    There is no end of group yoga classes to choose from – from Ashtanga to Bikram to Restorative for all levels. If you can’t find a class that suits you, even more choices exist on-line. With all these options, why, might you ask, would someone want a private yoga class? After all, it’s also more economical to attend a group class! For sure, group classes have many benefits. If you want to be somewhat anonymous, you’re seeking community or you just want to come and go without any commitment, group classes are great.  

    On the other hand, if you want to address your individual needs, accelerate your learning, and have one-on-one time with a teacher who is interested in and can help you work towards your personal goals, private classes are recommended. I was not convinced of the benefits of private classes until I started teaching myself and was able to compare what I can do in a group versus what I can do with one of those students in a private session. 

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    Revised July 2020

    Did you know?

    • 50% of women who have had children have some degree of prolapse1; and some are not aware of it.
    • 95% of lower back pain is caused by pelvic floor dysfunction (PFD)2.
    • 1/3 of women experience urinary incontinence3 .

    These are sobering statistics (and I stopped myself at listing only three types of PFD!). If pelvic floor dysfunction is so common, why aren’t women and their doctors more well-informed? My intent in sharing these numbers is not to scare people. It is to offer hope. The pelvic floor is like any other part of the body – if something is out of whack, it speaks to us through symptoms. The body is a healing machine & given the right treatment and conditions, many people can experience relief from pain, leakage and other symptoms that have a huge impact on quality of life.

    Yoga for Grief & Loss 

    © Kathleen Pratt, 2018, Kingston, Ontario


    Grief is a universal response to loss of something important in our lives. Grief affects us emotionally, physically, psychologically, spiritually and socially. Most people think of bereavement as a cause of grief, but grief occurs in response to a multitude of losses such as natural disasters, unemployment, divorce, serious health diagnosis, and sexual assault. ‘Disenfranchised grief’ is grief that is not acknowledged by society , such as family estrangement and dementia. Bereavement is associated with excess risk of mortality, particularly in the first weeks and months after a loss. It is also related to increased physical symptoms, illness and use of medical services . Due to a variety of factors, some bereaved individuals are at risk for complicated grief, depression and stress disorders. In normal bereavement, a range of fluctuating emotions (including depression, regret, guilt and anger) and feelings of repressed or unresolved grief can take years to resolve (Philbin, 2009).

    These references were referred to in my 2020 presentations. 

    Buric, I., Farias, M., Jong, J., Mee, C., Brazil, I. (2017). What is the Molecular Signature of Mind–Body Interventions? A Systematic Review of Gene Expression Changes Induced by Meditation and Related Practices. Frontiers in Immunology, 8

    Cohen S, Doyle WJ, Skoner DP, Rabin BS, Gwaltney JM. Social Ties and Susceptibility to the Common Cold. JAMA. 1997;277(24):1940–1944. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03540480040036

    Gratitude is good medicine: Practicing gratitude boosts emotional and physical well being

    Goliszek, A. (2014, November 12). How stress affects the immune system: Using mind-body therapies to keep stress from making us sick. Psychology Today.

    Greenberg, M. (2012, August 12). How to prevent stress from shrinking your brain: Learn how to preserve brain power when you’re stressed. Psychology Today

    The Holme-Hahe Life Stress Inventory - The Social Readjustment Rating Scale 

    Kiecolt-Glaser J. K. (2018). Marriage, divorce, and the immune system. The American psychologist, 73(9), 1098–1108.

    Loneliness alters the immune system to cause illness, study finds

    Meditation can help loneliness

    Mitchell, M. (2013, March 29). Dr. Herbert Benson’s relaxation response: Learn to counteract the physiological effects of stress. Psychology Today.

    Narla, C., Scidmore, T. Jeong, J., Everest, M., Chidiac, P. Poulter, M.O. (2016 June 14)  A switch in G protein coupling for type 1 corticotropin-releasing factor receptors promotes excitability in epileptic brains. Science Signalling, 9 DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.aad8676   (Science Daily's summary article:Researchers discover why stress leads to increased seizures in epilepsy patients )

    Social Connection (Wikipedia)

    Wong, J. & Brown, J. (2017 June 6). How gratitude changes you and your brain. Greater Good Magazine.

    Yaribeygi, H. Panahi, Y., Sahraei, H. , Johnston, T.P. & Sahebkar, A. (2017). The impact of stress on body function: A review. Experimental & Clinical Sciences Journal, 16  doi: 10.17179/excli2017-480

    Resources during COVID-19

    Weekly guided imagery with Belleruth Naparsteck

    Guided meditations by Tara Brach

    Online Sangha Series with Richard Miller & Stephanie Lopez

    Pause4Providers: Drop-in mindfulness sessions for health care providers

    How to Cope When You're Stuck at Home with a Difficult Family Member

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    Spiritual Lineage Acknowledgement

    I am a white-bodied, Canadian-born yoga teacher with privilege. Yoga's historical roots originated in India more than 5000 years ago.  I am evermore grateful to my teachers and for the ancient wisdom that informs my yoga practice and teaching. I strive to practice and uphold the ethics of yoga to create a more peaceful, just world. I commit to engaging in continuing education and self-reflection to avoid cultural appropriation.

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    Disclaimer: The information on this website is not a substitute for professional medical or psychological care.

    © 2021 Kathleen Pratt


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