Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Yoga for Grieving

Last Friday night, I attended a free 'Yoga for Grieving' class at Pittsburgh's Keystone Health Club.  It has a really cool industrial vibe, being located in an old Westinghouse Plant.  From the parking garage, the walkway into the club overlooks the vast expanse of a long-vacated manufacturing plant that once was part of the area's economic backbone.  Now it's just a lot of emptiness except for this jewel of a health club, tucked into a corner of this big open space.  Last June, I saw an ad from a local funeral home (Patrick T. Lanigan) announcing its sponsorship of this class as part of its grief support outreach.  I tucked it away, thinking that some day I would like to attend.  Since the class is only every other Friday night at 7:00 p.m., I kept missing it due to other schedule commitments. 
As part of our yoga teacher training, we are supposed to attend two classes a week.  It helps to observe different instructors and styles of yoga and to see how other studios are organized. 
With nothing better to do, I set off for East Pittsburgh directly from work.  It was not until I put the address into my smartphone that I suddenly realized that the route would take me through Braddock PA.  My parents and maternal grandparents are all buried in the Braddock Catholic Cemetery.   Probably almost a century ago, my maternal grandfather and his two brothers purchased cemetery plots on the same hillside overlooking this old industrial town.  My mother's family included talented stonemasons -- there were family monument businesses in Dravosburg and New Kensington.  The three family headstones are beautiful examples of their work.  My grandparents' is an artful representation of the Agony in the Garden.  My cousin tells a funny story that her mother did not want to be buried in Braddock, but she loved the design of the headstone.  They graciously accommodated her desire to be located in a more upscale city location, Calvary Cemetery, and replicated the exact design in what is now her final resting place. 
Thinking that visiting the cemetery was the thing to do, seeing as I was on my way to a yoga class designed to help grieving people, I arrived at the family gravesite as the sun was nearly setting in the sky. 

I always cry when visiting this place and arrived at the Keystone Commons in an appropriately grieving state of mind.  There are other blog posts on this site where I have reflected on how yoga has helped me occupy my time, mind and body at times of loss.  The class was very gentle, much of it done in a chair.   There was no conversation about loss or grief or mourning.  Just dim lights, calming music and soothing postures. 
Teaching yoga is not something I am sure I can do.  But I could do this kind of class. 

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