How my yoga practice helped me through my miscarriage

When I found out that I was pregnant for the first time, after trying for over a year, it was pretty damn thrilling. I kept up my active lifestyle of vinyasa yoga, zumba and weightlifting. And I kept going to my fast-paced, high-stress job.


I was at work, running to the bathroom, which I rarely had the privilege of doing. I realised that my pregnancy was over. Standing in the hall outside of the bathroom for a couple minutes, I repeated to myself "Just one more hour of work today, and then you can deal with this".


I started sobbing while driving home. That night, so many tears came out and I didn't resist any of them. I pretty much cried myself to sleep, after calling my husband who was away. Then I went to work for the rest of the week, since that was a Monday.


Tuesday I was angry. Angry with everybody. Angry with the world. Angry at my body. Angry at the injustice. But because of my yoga training, my mantra was "Feel what you're feeling. Your feelings are natural."


Wednesday was one of the weirdest days of my life. From the second my alarm went off in the morning, I was elated. Brilliantly happy. Excited to be alive. And I went with it. What a wonderful day at work! There was a little part of my brain that was telling me that I was crazy because I was supposed to be sad, but I kept with my mantra. My feelings were natural. They came from my body. And why be sad when you're body is telling you to be happy? I had the thought that day, "Maybe this is what resilience feels like."


Wondering when I'm going to get back to telling you about my yoga routine? I'm recounting all of this stuff about my feelings because what I was doing, in my opinion, was yoga. I was listening to my body and accepting what it was presenting me with as it happened, in the moment. No resistance. And I think that I was able to do this successfully in a time of crisis because I had been practicing this daily on my mat.


After about nine days of the heaviest bleeding of my life, nine frustrated and confused and hopeful and heartbroken days, I felt ready to do some kind of physical exercise. The Ashtanga sequence, a go-to for my old home practice, was certainly not accessible to me. I remember sitting on my mat and feeling its texture, and wondering what to do.


Movement with breath. That's where I started. I moved my arms up and down with my inhales and exhales while sitting cross-legged for a long time. And then I got up and had breakfast.


The next day, I closed my eyes and tried to listen to what kind of movement my body was yearning for. Hint: it wasn't plank or down dog. I did some cat, without the cow, wide-legged child, and lots of gentle side bending.


My body started asking for some stable standing poses. I flowed with my breath through the warriors and triangle. As the days went on, my body felt ready for deeper side bends and twists. Over a couple weeks, I had created a new hour-long flow sequence for myself without thinking, just feeling.


My home practice allowed me to slowly rebuild my self-confidence in a safe setting, without expectations to move in a certain way. It enabled me to learn what my body could do. Without judgement. With acceptance.


Home practice is really important. It gives us the opportunity to feel what poses are right for us, in that minute of that day. I started to go back to yoga classes about two months after my miscarriage. It's great to have a teacher's guidance again, to try new things, to connect to the group.


But things have changed. Even on a day when I attend a studio class, I still have my yoga practice at home, where I let my body lead, instead of my mind. Often it's only twenty minutes. I've started going to more restorative and chair yoga classes in addition to the faster vinyasa ones that used to dominate my schedule. When choosing a class, I let my muscles and my energy level decide. Through connecting to myself in the present moment, I feel much less attached to the outcome of having a baby. I'm still hopeful, though.


If you are experiencing a miscarriage, I'm sorry for your loss- that must be hard for you. I found the following resource very helpful in terms of understanding what was going on physically: Our Bodies Ourselves

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About the

Author

Simone L'Abbé

Simone helps women heal from miscarriage and feel relief from the stress of infertility through body awareness, movement, breathing and meditation techniques. 

Simone is a yoga teacher in Toronto who specializes in Chair Yoga and Yoga for Fertility.