The Art of Dying from a Yogic Perspective

More and more people are looking for better ways to face the emotional and practical realities of serious illness and dying. They are seeking ways to balance high-tech medical interventions with comfort and compassionate care, and to achieve a sense of dignity and meaning at the end of life.

When someone is near the end of life, there are many things that family and friends may still do to spend time with the loved one and to express their caring. Often it is the final months and weeks that people find is most significant with their dying loved one. One of the most important things to do is to help the person die unafraid, in a peaceful and dignified way, assuring them that they are loved and supported.

Hospice Yoga from Donna Belk on Vimeo.

Yoga is an ancient system that can be used during this time to offer ease and comfort to the the person transitioning from life to death, and also to their family and caregivers.

What Can yoga do?

Yoga techniques that may aid someone at the end of life (including their families and caregivers) are

  • gentle movement or stretching asanas, even if it is only turning the head or foot from side to side
  • breathing techniques for relaxation and to help manage stress and anxiety
  • guided visualization such as Yoga Nidra
  • subtle energy work to create feelings of peacefulness and upliftment and movement
  • sound or Nada Yoga using mantra, music, singing, or sounding, and
  • savasana or the practice of dying using the five koshas as a technique for letting go

It is important for the beliefs of the dying person to be honored. These yogic techniques honor all traditions. Christians benefit from these methods as well as Jewish or Moslem believers.

These yogic methods and tools for dealing with the end of life are offered in Donna’s book, “Hospice Yoga” which can be purchased for $9.95 as a pdf download.

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