Today, SevenPonds speaks with Antonio Sausys of Yoga for Grief Relief. Antonio has extensive experience in both modern, body-oriented psychotherapy and ancient yogic teachings; he also is a somatic health practitioner and yoga instructor specializing in yoga for grief relief. Antonio developed the Yoga for Cancer program based on the premise “Spirit can’t have Cancer.” Antonio teaches and lectures periodically at U.C. Berkeley, California Institute of Integral Studies, Kripalu, and College of Marin, has been a faculty member at the International Yoga College and former Honorary Secretary of the International Yoga Federation for USA. He is a member of the World Yoga Council, the International Association of Yoga Therapists, and the Association for Death Education and Counseling. Antonio Sausys resides in Marin County with a thriving yoga practice throughout the Bay Area.
Antonio: Yoga deals with the mind, body, and spirit, which are the three areas where grief manifests.
Zoë: How do you work with people through yoga, one-on-one or a room of individuals?
Antonio: I work with individuals in three modalities. The first form is one-on-one in private sessions, which is the main part of my work. The second is in retreat format, which can last anywhere from three to six days. The third form is teaching professionals who want to add yoga to their existing toolbox.
Zoë: How long do people use yoga as a way to go through the grieving process?
Antonio: Usually, I see people depending on possibility and availability. In an ideal situation, I work with individuals from six months to two years. The first year is about internalizing the loss and adjusting to life without the person you’ve lost. The second year is particularly challenging, because it has to do with redefining who you are after an important loss.
1) To understand that grieving is normal. Give yourself permission to grieve. A lot of people think that they’re going crazy when they’re grieving because it’s a disturbing process.
2) To find a practice for the body — because grief also happens in the body. Even from a psychotherapy point, grief used to be seen as an emotion only. Find a physical practice to calm the physical effects of grief.
3) While forming future attachment is inevitable, do keep in mind that nothing is permanent. What you’re now attached to will too disappear.
Zoë: How long does the grieving process take to complete?
Antonio: It varies completely. There is no standard time, though it is common to grieve for one or two years — then grief returns sporadically. In the first year, a person may present the symptoms more acutely. During the second year, some symptoms subside, but other challenges appear.
Yoga helps individuals with acute symptoms of grief, both in the mind and body. Then, in the re-identification process, it can help an individual find [a] new identity based on one’s spiritual essence rather than one’s old survival mechanisms. Grief is the normal reaction to the loss of the persons or things we are attached to. When we lose [them], we lose a part of who we are — our identity — because we identify ourselves to our attachments. Because we continue living after loss, we need to re-identify ourselves. Yoga, because of its very strong spiritual components, is a wonderful aid to find a new self.
Antonio: No, it’s not out yet. It will be released by New Harbinger in May 2014. It is called Yoga for Grief Relief. It talks a lot about grief and presents yoga techniques with pictures. They like to call it a self-help book, but I don’t like that term.
Zoë: Thanks so much for talking with us!
Antonio: Thank you.
More SevenPonds Interviews: