An Opportunity to Find Peace During a Difficult Time

One of the basic foundations of yoga is the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” And Claire Matthews, owner of Yoga Truly in Grimsby, is an embodiment of that yogic philosophy.

As a Compassionate Community initiative, Claire works with McNally House to bring a safe and serene space to people experiencing grief. Once a week, the studio offers a free class geared specifically to those who are journeying through grief; a class that is open, welcoming, gentle and, above all, restorative in every sense.

The classes are designed to allow a safe place for feelings to surface through the poses and breathing techniques unique to the practice. As Claire states, “Energies can sit in the body and affect a person on so many levels. It is so easy to let feelings play into the physical body.” Yoga allows the energies and emotions room to move and release, while Yoga Truly provides an environment that is nurturing, peaceful, and above all, non-judgemental. As Claire says, “If tears come, it is ok. Our culture doesn’t know how to deal with grief, so we try to hold the space to allow for that.”

A trained volunteer from McNally House is always on hand to guide and assist those who may be feeling overwhelmed with emotion, or who need someone to talk to, or who simply need a tissue. Claire recounts the story of one woman who had lost her daughter to cancer. There was a lull before class started, and the woman asked if she could put on some music. It turned out that the music was a series of videos of her daughter singing. Her mother simply wanted to hear her voice and share her love in a safe and accepting place.

Yvonne Jackson, who lost her husband Jack in June of this year, was introduced to Yoga Truly by Jenn Jowlabar, McNally’s Bereavement Clinician. Her daughter had previously encouraged her to try yoga, it was the practice at Yoga Truly that made the difference. Yvonne says, “Since Jack’s death, I have been so physically and emotionally tense, and have had no energy. Yoga relaxes me, lets me put the pain in the back of my mind and stops me thinking about what happened. Yoga allows me to release and open up.” Yvonne goes on to say that “Yoga allows me to do something for myself, lets me know I can move forward and to remember to live my life. Jack would have wanted me to take care of me.”

Yvonne has found such peace through yoga that she has begun to practice at home on her own. She emphasizes how truly grateful she is for McNally House for bringing her to the people at Yoga Truly, saying that everyone makes her feel, “so welcome and comfortable. It brings people together, but instead of just talking about what happened, it makes you go forward.”

Claire was first introduced to McNally House through a community event at the Grimsby Public Library. She was demonstrating yoga when she met the bereavement counsellor from McNally House, and the two began chatting about the connection between the hospice and yoga. The similarities were striking: both aim to alleviate distress and suffering, both are inclusive, safe places, and both are truly part of a Compassionate Community.

Claire says she feels, “honoured to be even a small part of (McNally House). It is truly a pleasure to be part of a whole, responsive community, to be an integral part of the full circle of life.”

McNally House’s mission is to bring compassionate care both before and after the death of a loved one, to people like Yvonne Jackson.

McNally provides free of charge, 24-hour specialized end-of-life care to people living with a terminal illness, as well as those in their life circle.
But they can’t do it without you.

To continue to provide Niagara West the gold standard in end-of-life care and bereavement services, McNally House relies on the generosity of our community to help us raise more than $600,000 each year to cover operating expenses.