The Tender Grief Point of Yoga.


Yoga hasn’t always been a sacred practice for me.

In fact, for my first eight years of Yoga, it was just one painful game of let’s see how quickly these 60 minutes pass and how much of it I can avoid spending in my body, in feeling. I was not open to the possibility that Yoga was anything but physical.

The game was this: get on the Yoga mat, move through the motions, stare at the clock, get up, go home.

Emotions? Forget about it. I wanted to remain as statuesque as possible and not leave an ounce of my heart or soul in that room.

But then I met a new Yoga. It was Forrest Yoga. It’s a practice that merges the physical asana with the ways we hold emotions in our body and the nuanced feelings of the subtle body.

At the time when I met this new Yoga, I was going through life — big time. I was willing to try anything to feel better. I was recovering from wrist surgery, in the throes of depression, and feeling generally miserable every single day. I spent so much time feeling feelings that hurt physically and emotionally that the last thing I wanted was to go to Yoga and amplify the intensity of feeling.

Forrest Yoga had the promise of being gentle enough for my fragile state.

This was a breaking point in my life when I very easily could have checked out. I was exhausted because I spent so long trying to make everything neat and pretty. I grasped at anything I could to hide the broken pieces and hide my angst. We live in a society that frankly doesn’t like to talk about feelings because it doesn’t make for polite company.

And to add to all my other problems, this exhaustion of trying to keep it together when I didn’t feel together and just wanted to shatter apart, this was my tipping point.

So I did the Yoga, and I kept coming back. And the reason I kept coming back?

I was feeling things, and I felt safe to feel these feelings. This was my space with a teacher who (to this day) I don’t have to prove myself in front of, I don’t have to apologize for feeling, and I don’t have to prove myself to the other yogis in a room. I felt okay showing up to Yoga not okay, and I usually walked out feeling better.

I kept coming back and spending those 90 minutes on my Yoga days with my emotions. And while I wouldn’t call it fun, it was a relief. I could take the mask off and stop pretending.

This Yoga quickly became my space to be authentically me. The permission to be messy, to fall apart, to grieve, to process, to pick ourselves back up again, and to fall apart again when we meet more layers of sadness — that’s a gift. This is the grief point of Yoga.

My time on my Yoga mat is sacred for me. It’s where I move through some of the deepest, most tender layers of grief in my body that have been stuck for days, years, and even lifetimes. And while the other emotions come (the five main emotions are grief, fear, anger, love joy), for they always do, it’s moving through the grief that has been the most healing to my path.

Working with grief on my Yoga mat is one of my tremendously powerful life teachers.

Finding this Yoga was the invitation to let go, accept what is, and realize exactly what I was healing from.

It takes courage to meet yourself and be sacredly unapologetic as you flow through the layers of tender grief. When you’re deep in the pain points of grief, remember that you’re stronger than what you want to trust or believe in.

This Yoga taught me a new accountability to myself. Not for shame over my grief, but for the sake of learning and moving through the layers of grief as a great teacher.

In a year in my life when everything was god-awful, and I wanted nothing but to just check out and feel none of it, I received a blessing. A blessing to feel unapologetically myself and meet those emotions I had suppressed for so long.

“Real love doesn’t meet you at your best. It meets you in your mess.” ~ J.S. Park


Caitlin Oriel is a Boulder, Colorado native. She is a dreamer, a yogi, and a wanderer at heart. She loves the ocean waves and lazy mornings in the sun with a cup of coffee and a good book. Her time-tested remedy for surviving life’s struggles is taking the time to watch the sun set out in the stillness of nature. She believes in a world where passion and community come together to create magic. She will not settle for something that does not drive her soul’s passion. Check out what she’s up to on Instagram and Facebook.


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