Healing grief through Dru Yoga and relaxationHealing grief through Dru Yoga and relaxation
Dru Yoga courses help to relax and energise thousands of people through yoga classes, yoga holidays and meditation retreats. Not just effective in weekly yoga classes, Dru Yoga is also used worldwide to overcome emotional traumas and grief. Dru Yoga teacher trainers have taught Dru’s relaxation therapies in countries including South Sudan, Northern Ireland and the Chechan borders. Here, one of the Dru Yoga therapists teaches Dru Yoga and deep relaxation techniques to a woman in Kenya who was traumatized by grief.
Jane is from a normal middle class African household, and her uncle is a psychiatrist in one of the Kenyan hospitals. When she was 11 her father died and she was unable to talk about her grief or pain to anyone. Her uncle did the respectable thing and took in her mother as a second wife, as is the custom to prevent the family from starving. However she found it hard to have normal relationships as a teenager and at 12 she had severe bronchitis, two years later she developed chronic asthma followed by depression.
Unable to help Jane further with medicine, her uncle invited her to join our weekend Dru Yoga retreat in Nairobi. Throughout the weekend she practiced a variety of Dru Yoga’s flowing sequences and yoga postures. These included Prithvi Namaskar, (Earth Sequence – available in the book ‘Stillness in Motion’) and Breath of Arjuna - all effective stress relief programmes. Particularly powerful were Dru Yoga’s unique Energy Block Release sequences which open the heart chakra and stimulate a free flow of prana or life force through the heart and around the body. For the first time in 10 years Jane felt a release of her grief and cried for her father. Her breathing improved and her depression began to lift. She is still practicing the techniques and is moving on in her life.
This is just one of the many examples of where Dru Yoga has helped to heal emotional pain, create self management tool kits and tackle the many effects of trauma. For many years I have taken Dru Yoga to some very challenging places and never found it wanting. But it doesn't have to be the ghettos of South Africa, survivors of the Nairobi bombing or paramilitary wives in Belfast. Anyone, anywhere can find themselves weighed down by stress, broken by grief and enmeshed in angry conflicts or jealous family feuds. In fact in almost every street in the world some kind of suffering exists but with Dru Yoga as our best friend we can learn to rise above the strife and become strong, joyful and positive.
In Dru Yoga classes and holidays, you learn to balance the energies of body, heart and mind and with it bring a whole new level of clarity and wellness to relationships, ambitions and sense of purpose. In her book Molecules of Emotion the American scientist Dr Candice Pert has written about how the physical body and our emotions are linked through neuro-peptides or messenger molecules. She has shown that different mental and emotional states cause the brain to secrete the peptides, which flush through the body and create a response in receptive cells. This response in turn directs the body to carry out specific functions.
Sometimes when we experience a highly charged, emotionally traumatic incident, some body systems or parts of the body become overloaded and a blockage of natural free flow of energy takes place. The Chinese have a similar model and they talk of chi and meridians of energy flowing throughout the body. Over the years we have learned to untangle these blockages through the use of the Dru Yoga sequences ‘Energy Block Release’, which can be found on the Dru Yoga DVD with Mansukh Patel and Coby Langford and the book, Dru Yoga - Stillness in Motion, by Chris Barrington, Anita Goswami and Annie Jones.
Like many of us, Jane's healing journey began when she made the decision to heal herself. This decision made her open to a primary principle in Dru Yoga which is 'Energy follows thought'. Jane learned through the Dru Yoga postures mudras (hand movements) and breathing exercises to become more aware of her subtle body and then to consciously use her mind to direct energy flow.
Yoga philosophy describes five layers of our being. The five koshas start with the gross or physical body, moving into the prana or energy levels which can be linked to our physiology. More subtle is the emotional layer, followed by the intellectual layer and finally the blissful layer or soul force. Through our daily practice, we aim to target each layer directly and where possible simultaneously. This allows a healing transformation to take place more quickly.
When practicing Dru Yoga, participants find that traumas, emotional distress and dis-empowering thoughts will bubble up to the surface and be released very gently and slowly through the physical body. This slow release is a crucial factor in healing trauma, because we do not want a cathartic release, which can be traumatic in itself!
Looking once again at Jane's situation, from this yogic, body-mind approach we can see how because her grief was not expressed and released at the time of her father’s death it became mirrored in her lung and chest area. This would have also become a contributing factor in getting bronchitis and eventually in becoming an asthmatic.
The Dru Yoga sequence Prithvi Namaskar (Earth Sequence) was very helpful to Jane as it works on all the charkas, stimulating the flow of prana through the nadis and gently focusing on the breath. This ignited the parasympathetic relaxation response and a tangible release of deep seated stress. Through practicing the Breath of Arjuna - a pranayama exercise, Jane would have brought more oxygen into her lungs and body, increasing her vitality levels and releasing her depression.
Finally, as Dru Yoga is primarily based around activating the heart energy, we worked with yoga postures to enhance her feelings of self acceptance, self love and self worth. Dr Dean Ornish has given most of his life to looking at natural heart care, but one of his most important discoveries is healing the emotional heart. His work shows that when we do not feel truly loved our immune system is compromised. The Anahata Chakra (heart centre), is also called the psychic centre of transformation, because of its power to refocus lower centre energy patterns such as fear and loss through the heart and into creativity and compassion.
The word ‘yoga’ means to unite all the different aspects of ourselves, and for this reason we use our yoga knowledge to form the basis for all our trauma healing training programmes around the world. But Dru Yoga is also first and foremost an invaluable tool kit for anyone working to transform themselves, and for those seeking positive health and well-being.