By Lisa J. Young, MA
Earlier this year I had a miscarriage 9 weeks into my third pregnancy. I was surprised and shocked. My two previous pregnancies were smooth. Plus, I practice yoga, live a spiritual life, and am a prenatal yoga teacher. None of these things, however, made me immune to having a miscarriage or protected me from experiencing the raw emotions that come with one.
Although miscarrying was intense, bewildering, and sad, being a yogini helped me to cope with the mixed emotions and body changes. In my quiet moments of reflection and healing, I recorded several lessons I learned from my experience, and I want to share those lessons with you.
One: Hearing “I’m sorry” does not help.
People often resort to “I’m sorry” when they don’t know what else to say. That’s not to suggest they are not sincere in their expression, but those overused words aren’t always the most comforting. Higher energy sentiments like, “Your body’s wisdom,” “Everyone grieves miscarriage differently,” or “It’s nothing you did, so don’t fault yourself,” are immensely comforting. For me, these simple phrases were more healing, pacifying, and empowering than “I’m sorry.”
In yoga we are taught that our language has a huge impact on our how we think about and interact with our bodies. I will be more mindful to choose words that uplift and instill trust in a woman’s body after miscarriage.
Two: Confide in close friends to feel acknowledged and heard.
Not many people even knew I was pregnant, so when the miscarriage happened I felt alone. I felt sad, confused, and anxious. I wanted to talk about what I was going through with close friends and family to feel validated. Yoga reminds us to be honest with ourselves and with others which is satya or truthfulness. Now I know to be a good listener and to be honest with other mamas going through a miscarriage to help ease the isolation and distress they may be feeling.
Three: Accept and love your body.
I looked even more pregnant after the miscarriage with weeks of bloating and weight gain. Although rationally I knew these changes were from hormones, my uterus adjusting, and my body still thinking it was pregnant, I had a hard time accepting my softer belly and wider hips. Yoga’s emphasis on ahimsa, or loving-kindness and non-harming, helped me to be gentler with myself as I worked through the painful experience of miscarriage.
Four: Practice yoga and breathe deeply.
I found refuge and healing on my yoga mat after the miscarriage. On my mat I moved slowly, breathed deeply, and shed tears. I tried to welcome all of my feelings without judging them. Yoga teaches us that in order to heal we need to feel difficult emotions without judgment, which allows them to move through us quicker to let them go. Yoga teachers often refer to the pelvis and hips as “the junk drawer of emotions”. Thus, it felt healing to do seated hip openers, like one-legged pigeon and seated bound angle, along with deep breathing because it aided in moving the energy of grief.
Five: It’s healing to move forward, stay present, and be grateful.
My family went on a planned trip to Disney World just 5 days after my miscarriage! Although that was not the most nurturing or soothing place to be in the world, it kept my mind distracted, and I rode some thrilling roller coasters I wouldn’t have gotten to ride pregnant!
Yoga teaches us to be grateful for and focus on what we already have. Otherwise, we miss out on the preciousness of our lives right here, right now. I have two amazing kids already, right in front of me, to enjoy and be grateful for.
Six: Replace blame and guilt with trust.
I felt responsible for my miscarriage and believed that I didn’t have the “right stuff” to make a baby because I am 40-years-old. I had to work hard to remind myself there was nothing wrong with me. Yoga teaches we are all whole and complete at our core. Ultimately, I didn’t need to understand why the miscarriage happened. Rather, I had to trust the intelligence and mystery of life.
Seven: It’s OK to normalize miscarriage.
I wanted my children, especially my 7-year-old daughter, to understand that miscarriage is a normal part of life and to not be afraid of it. Rather than throwing traumatic unsaid feelings about miscarriage into “the junk drawer” (the hips), we talked about miscarriage in order to process, acknowledge, and normalize life’s truths and complex emotions.
Eight: Be open to unexpected gifts.
One treasure I gained is a deeper understanding of how I can help others as a prenatal yoga teacher. The mamas who have a past history of miscarriage are distrusting, fearful, and anxious. I can now be a true source of comfort, understanding, and hope to my students who have had a miscarriage or are going through one. Yoga poses like a forward fold or downward facing dog can help to calm an anxious mind.
Nine: Welcome new beginnings.
What can feel like an ending may be the beginning of another chapter, just like we flow in and out of yoga poses to the next, the breath rising and falling away. Maybe it was not the right time for another baby in our family. As the clouds of miscarriage started to clear, I sensed it was the right time to expand my prenatal yoga business.
A woman’s uterus or hara, is her center of creation. Although my uterus did not create a baby, I unexpectedly felt a new surge of creativity on the rise. Something had been created and birthed, even though it was through the loss of a miscarriage. Transforming the energies of a miscarriage to invite the new and let go of the old was healing and life giving.
Lisa Young is the owner of Austin Prenatal Yoga, dedicated to pre & post natal yoga and natural birth prep classes. She has been a student and teacher of yoga for 17 years. Lisa lives in Austin, TX with her husband, 2 children, and pup. Visit her website here.