The Most Important Lessons Yoga Has Taught Me About Loss


It’s July of 2005 and there’s a 16-year-old girl laying, nearly lifeless, on her kitchen floor.

Her best friend, who spoke to her earlier that evening, sensed something wasn’t right. So she went to her house to check on her and found her, half unconscious, with a bottle of prescription pills in her hand.

You see, when someone’s life is consumed by loss, it’s like being cornered in a dark room. Alone. Your mind becomes so engulfed with grief that you can’t imagine how anyone could understand your pain. And if they did, who wants to hear about it?

And that’s why this 16-year-old girl tried taking her own life that evening.

That 16-year-old girl was me.

For the first 20 or so years of my life, I wouldn’t know what happiness was if it hit me between the eyes. Year in and year out, some type of tragic loss found its way into my life.

And year after year, I let it defeat me.

But as I got older, I started to see more and more that instead letting life beat me down, I needed to take charge of it. I needed to stand my ground and say “from now on, I’m going to be happy.” And that’s when I found yoga.

It was 2012 when I attended my first yoga class and I haven’t really looked back since then. Here are a few of the most important lessons practicing yoga has taught me about loss:


Lesson 1: Let your emotions reveal themselves

“Once you have quieted your mind enough, you will see how it really is.”

– Ram Dass

The first day I walked into a yoga studio, I was an emotional wreck. And, it was the first time I’d ever tried anything like yoga. About 30 minutes into the class, my yoga teacher instructed us to go into Pigeon pose, which involves laying on the ground for an extended period of time in a certain way that stretches out your hips. After holding Pigeon pose for a minute or so, I felt tears begin to stream down my face. I looked up at my yoga teacher in disbelief. She didn’t look surprised, which made me think that this probably happens to people a lot.

Turns out your body stores emotions into its cells, and your hips are the powerhouse of them. Many yogis say the hips are the ultimate “dusty chest” of your body, storing the deepest, most hidden emotions you may not even realize you have. By sitting through just one yoga pose, you give yourself the opportunity to release your emotions in a way you never could before.

So I did just that. I let my emotions reveal themselves. And the results were groundbreaking. It might sound weird, but thanks to Pigeon pose, I was able to come to terms with the way I felt about a lot of things in my life.

Pigeon pose, also known as a hip opener, is practiced by many people as preparation for a backbend.

Pigeon pose, also known as a hip opener, is practiced by many people as preparation for a backbend.


Lesson 2: Face your pain head-on

“The best way out is always through.”

– Robert Frost

I recently joined a softball team, and after three straight days of practice, my arms felt like they could fall off in any given moment. But, I forced myself to go to yoga, regardless of how much pain I was in. When I got there, I let my yoga instructor know that I was experiencing a lot of pain and muscle soreness. As we moved into our first overhead arm stretch, my natural reaction was to keep going until I felt pain, then back away so I didn’t feel that pain anymore. As I backed away, my instructor said “Krystal, stretch your arm out to where you feel the most amount of pain,” so I did, and huffed and puffed accordingly. Once I found that “sweet” (or horrible, depending on how you look at it) spot, she said “OK, good. Now stay here. Just breathe it in. Take in the pain. This is your body growing.”

After sitting in that arm stretch for a while, I started to feel a sense of delight and accomplishment. For the first time in a long time, I was able to literally face my pain head-on. This approach to pain in yoga has helped me respond to emotional pain in my life in a better way. Instead of simply pushing my emotions to the side so I could deal with them later, I’ve  learned to come to terms with the way I feel, and deal with it accordingly. When you experience loss in your life, sometimes it’s hard to look your grief right in the eyes and face it head-on. But by drawing a parallel between physical and mental pain, you gain the courage to face it head-on. Sure, it takes your breath away because it’s overwhelming. But you’ve got to get through it somehow. So breathe in, breathe out, and accept your pain for what it is. For me, this has made all the difference.


Me enjoying my practice in “Downward Dog” on a sunny day.


Lesson 3: Be here now

“The next message you need is always right where you are.”

– Ram Dass

When I first pursued my interest in yoga, I asked my instructor to recommend a few of her favorite books to me. One of her recommendations, called Be Here Now by Ram Dass, is a book about a Harvard professor who transformed himself from a materialistic professor with lots of money into a humble Yogi in the making. His biggest piece of advice in his book was in the title. “Be Here Now”.

It took me a while to really understand what the author of the book meant. Be here now? Am I not always here, aware of the present? Turns out, for the past 24 years, I was never really “here”. My mind was always somewhere else, wandering and worrying about things that have nothing to do with the moment I’m in. I realized that at the times I had faced loss in my life, I experienced so much grief because I entertained all of the possibilities of my loss rather than just bringing awareness to that given moment. Just like when you’re in a yoga pose, you must focus all of your efforts on that one pose and bring intention to it. Straying from the present will ruin your outlook on the past or future. Whenever I have trouble with this, I always think of another one of my favorite quotes from the book: “The heart surrenders everything to the moment. The mind judges and holds back.” Remember that the next time you’re in a moment. Bring intention to that moment, and nothing else.


Lesson 4: Remember that peace comes from within

Until about two years ago,  I was the poster child for Murphy’s Law, which goes something like “if anything can go wrong, it will”. It doesn’t help that whenever I experienced loss, I let it hang above my head like a storm cloud. Through everything I did in life was a wave of pessimism that ruined almost every experience. For years, I had simply “given up”. I thought “God didn’t want me to have a good life.” I was truly hopeless. Then, one day, I decided that it was time to stop letting my bad luck “happen” to me and start taking responsibility for my own thoughts and feelings.

Many people who experience  loss forget that it’s up to them to start their healing journey. No one can heal them without their consent. Just like in yoga, if you want to master a pose, you can use props or the wall to get yourself into the pose,  but the only way you’ll ever master it is to just let it come “from within”. It doesn’t always come when you expect it, but it will happen if you make it happen. It has taken me almost ten years of reflection to realize that I was wrong in thinking any other way.


The most important lesson


After practicing yoga religiously for a good deal of time now, I have found a profound balance in my life. I realize now that nothing is more important than the moment you’re in now. So live it up. Enjoy every single moment. Appreciate loss as a balance to happiness.  And most of all, never, ever let anyone but yourself be responsible for your own happiness.

Have you ever tried yoga before? What emotional or physical benefits has it had for you? Tell me your stories in the comments below!

I encourage you to share my story!

If you have a blog at your funeral home, please feel free to share this on it! If you do, please just include this in it: “Originally published on the funeralOne blog”.

PS. To learn more about grieving mindfully through yoga, click here. Or, if you’re a funeral director looking for more ways to build that relationship with grieving families after the service, click here to learn more about our free eAftercare resources.


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  1. Michelle Stockman-Robinson

    Krystal….I had no idea…….this brought tears to my eyes 🙂

  2. Lenette

    Krystal, this is so good and so happy to hear that you found light in a very dark time. I remember my first yoga class and the instructor told us that in addition to some embarrassing body noises that could happen, it wasn’t unusual for students to cry during practice. I thought this was odd, but now I get it. Thanks for sharing your story.

  3. kimstacey

    Beautifully written, Krystal. You’ve come a very long way, my dear friend; and your spirit shines! (And thanks for the link to the Yoga Journal article!)

  4. Krystal

    Thanks for the kind words Lenette 🙂 I really appreciate it! Since that time in class, I always chuckle when I see people walking out of class feeling emotional. It’s all a sign of a good thing 🙂 Thanks again!

  5. Krystal

    Kim, thank you very much 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the article. And yes, Yoga Journal is the ultimate resource… love it!! Hope you’re doing well 🙂

  6. Krystal

    Awww thanks Aunt Michelle! You’re the best 🙂

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