Grief yoga helps Vancouver bereaved relax and heal

Local therapist says grieving through yoga 'less intense' than counselling


Reported by Cass Lucke

Learning to cope with the physical, social and mental effects of loss can become easier with yoga, especially if facing that grief is part of the practice.

Grief integration yoga gives the bereaved space and time to work through the complex effects of loss. An instructor at Karma Teachers Centre for Yoga and Meditation created GIY to deal with her own challenges.

“I was going through intense times in my own life, all I wanted was a space where it was okay to break down,” said Juniper Quin, who began teaching GIY in 2014.

Students learn over six weeks

The yoga class uses vocalization, simple physical movements, and focused breathing to help students through different aspects of grief over a period of six weeks.

Therapist, trained yoga instructor and bereaved mother, Karla Helbert said, “Yoga is all about ritual, and ritual really helps us to process and connect with our own hearts and the world around us. Grief is a process that really demands ritual.” 

A gentle experience

Joscha Brangs who has taken the class three times said grief yoga left him feeling more serene than any other yoga practice he has tried.

“Yoga isn’t meant to be a workout,” Brangs said. “It’s meant to broaden your mind and relax you, like this class just did for me.”

Helbert said GIY offers a less intense approach than counselling.

“In grief, all the parts of who we are, are hugely impacted,” she said. “All the different practices of yoga address all the different issues a grieving person goes through.”

GIY classes are held once a week for two hours over a period of six weeks. Each class focuses on different aspects of grieving, and has been adjusted in response to feedback from students. The studio has opened a new location in New Westminster.

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