Healing in Motion – Free Classes and Activities for People Who Are Grieving

Whether light, moderate or vigorous, physical activity can be a helpful coping mechanism as people move forward on their grief journey. It provides a distraction by focusing attention on the body, giving a break from the feelings of sadness and pain that grief brings. Exercise releases endorphins and tends to improve sleep and provide a sense of accomplishment. And it can help connect those who are grieving with others who are going through similar experiences.

The Elizabeth Hospice invites the community to participate in HEALING IN MOTION, a new series of exercise classes and activities for people grieving the death of a loved one. There is no cost to attend; everyone in the community is welcome. Healing in Motion classes are led by certified trainers and certified facilitators who volunteer with The Elizabeth Hospice.

Mindful Movement with Breath with Hank Newman

“When a person grieves for a long time, the emotions they feel from the loss of their loved one can become embedded in their body. They carry stress in their neck, shoulders, hips and back. Yoga is a wonderful tool that helps move grief through the body,” said Hank Newman.

Hank is a certified yoga teacher who has practiced yoga for over 20 years. He’s been volunteering at The Elizabeth Hospice for almost as long, providing patient care companionship and caregiver relief since 2005. Hank recently expanded his volunteer service with The Elizabeth Hospice to include leading a monthly class called Yoga: Mindful Movement with Breath at the Poway Library, 13137 Poway Rd, from 11:30 am to 1 pm on the second Saturday of the month.

“This is not the traditional yoga class you may have tried, seen on video or read about. You’ll learn movement and breathing techniques to help reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and eliminate tension,” continued Hank.

Grief Walks with Jenna Waters

Jenna Waters is a retired high school teacher who received certification as a grief educator after her mother’s passing. “I was curious about grieving that takes place around major life transitions such as children leaving home, parental loss and aging. Even though everyone experiences grief differently, there are some things that grievers have in common. They need to feel a sense of community, move their body and be outdoors. Grief Walks delivers all of these benefits and more,” said Jenna.

The monthly Grief Walks, facilitated by Jenna and hosted by The Elizabeth Hospice, are held in different locations throughout San Diego on the last Saturday of the month. These 1.5-mile, easy-paced walks provide participants the opportunity to share with others, walk in silence or dedicate the walk in honor of the one they hold dear.

“Immediately following the death, we are often surrounded by lots of attention from family members and friends. Soon afterward, support often falls away. Grief Walks allow people to continue telling their person’s story, which helps keep their loved one close. During walks, there are fresh shoulders to lean on, fresh ears to listen to,” said Jenna.

Grief Yoga with Joanna Munday

Joanna Munday, a registered yoga instructor, provides yoga and breathing classes focused on restorative, healing yoga and meditation techniques that calm the nervous system. She began studying trauma-informed yoga after her 16-year-old son lost his life in a car accident. “Jack was a kind and humble guy, a fantastic athlete and someone who always lived in the moment,” said Joanna.

Grief Yoga is facilitated by Joanna Munday and hosted by The Elizabeth Hospice on the first Thursday of every month from 10 to 11:30 am at the Las Flores Church in Carlsbad. She offers these free yoga classes to honor her son’s memory and to give back to people who are also suffering from grief and loss.

“When you are in trauma, your mind wants to move all the time. Grief Yoga helps quiet the mind, giving it a break from the suffering, the chatter and the noise. With gentle movements and deep, intentional breaths, we can release the painful energy stored in the hips and lower back, moving the body into a state of relaxation,” said Joanna.

“It’s amazing to witness the Healing in Motion offerings’ positive impact on our community. I was a dancer for many years and can understand the significance of movement as a form of grieving,” said Claytie Mason, Volunteer Manager with The Elizabeth Hospice. “This is true for many people, whether they prefer to take a walk in the sunshine, release their emotions by moving their bodies, or simply take a deep breath. Hank, Jenna and Joanna are incredibly kind, knowledgeable, and passionate about their work. We’re so fortunate to have them as members of our Volunteer Team.”

For more information about HEALING IN MOTION, email hummingbird@ehospice.org or call 760-705-6736.