302: Yoga for Grief & Loss with Susan Andersen

Most people have personal experiences with loss in its many forms – loss of a loved one or pet, loss of a home or job or business, and even during COVID, the loss of normalcy. Grief is a normal part of loss but how can yoga support us in these times? Susan “Sue” Andersen shares her insights.

Sue works with people who have experienced loss and are grieving through yoga and movement. Meditation, mindfulness and breath work are key elements that Sue incorporates into her teaching to connect the physical to the spiritual practice. Her goal is to help students find their own practice and to enjoy all the benefits yoga brings. 

Sue shares how she got into yoga and grief work after her son died, why yoga is a beneficial tool in navigating grief and loss, and how we can support our yoga students when they come to us with their grief. She also explains the role yoga can play in moving through self-blame and criticism, releasing emotions like anger, shame, and guilt, and why grief looks different for everyone. 

This episode is a must-listen for every yoga teacher as we support people who will inevitably encounter loss and grief in their lives.

Key Takeaways:

[3:07] Shannon introduces her guest for this episode – Susan Andersen.

[6:43] What does Sue do and who does she do it for?

[7:14] How did Su get into doing this work?

[9:50] What is grief?

“When we experience loss, we grieve.” ~ Sue Anderson

[14:42] Why is yoga effective for grief?

[17:21] What can yoga teachers do when a student expresses their loss and grief to them?

All the things that we talk about in these programs can help for any type of grief because it’s releasing the emotion from the body.” ~ Sue Anderson

[19:50] What are some things that wouldn’t be helpful when a student is dealing with grief?

“You can’t fix something … you want to just let that person know that you’re there.” ~ Sue Anderson”

[22:45] Shannon pops in to share some feedback from Carly, a yoga teacher who is using OfferingTree for her website.

[25:07] What are some of the differences between a regular yoga class and a specialty yoga class for grief?

“In general, I don’t think any of us rest enough. In particular, if you’re holding a lot of grief or stress, you’re probably resting even less.” ~ Sue Anderson 

[33:39] Does Sue talk about grief in her sessions? Is it helpful?

[36:35] What has Sue learned from her personal experience of grief that she wishes she had known at the beginning?

“It is really important to let all of these emotions out and not hold anything in.” ~ Sue Anderson

[39:20] What would Sue say to yoga teachers who are personally dealing with grief?

“Everybody’s grief is different. Their timeline is different.” ~ Sue Anderson

[41:16] Connect with Sue and learn more from her via her website and on YouTube.

[42:17] Sue gives a shout out to Paul Denniston of Grief Yoga.

[43:12] Shannon shares her key takeaways from this interview.


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