My partner and I were fortunate enough to get pregnant quickly. We decided it was time to start trying, I missed my next period, peed on a stick, and boom, we were having a baby! The next week, I began bleeding and lost the pregnancy.
I've been doing yoga for two and a half decades since I was three years old. My mother is a yoga teacher and has always explored the non-physical parts of a yoga practice as much as, if not more than, the physical ones. She took me along on her explorations and it became a guiding philosophy in my life. So, like always, I turned to yoga to help me through my miscarriage and the aftermath.
Yoga helped me love my body
Having a physical yoga practice helped me combat the feelings of inadequacy that came from comparison in my teenage years. Asana, or the practice of yoga postures, helped me build a relationship of trust with my body. I looked at my mother and her teachers, some of whom were decades older than her, and saw that they worked with their bodies to progress further into the practice. Yes, I could beat my body into submission but eventually it would break, and I wouldn’t be practicing for decades like my mentors. This is much like a relationship; you’ll get further if you work together. My mind and body came to trust one another as we worked in unison.
It was easy to feel inadequate after my miscarriage and to question why my body had failed at something that so many people seem to be able to do without issue. But there was a voice inside me that had grown confident through years of practice; it reminded me that my body was wise and capable. It may not have carried that baby to term, but it was still worthy of my love and my respect.
I also learned that miscarriages are common and often not without reason. 1 in 4 women experiences miscarriage (source). Many miscarriages happen because of a problem with how the embryo has settled in the womb or how it is developing; it wouldn’t survive in the long run or could endanger the mother’s life if it continues to grow (source). On reading this, I was able to appreciate my body’s greater wisdom. My body had always been my friend and still was.
Or, for argument’s sake, let’s say my body had made a mistake and miscarried an embryo that was perfectly healthy. Well, don’t we all make mistakes? I know that I do and that when I do, being berated and treated harshly rarely makes me want to jump up and try again. Whether my miscarriage was for good reason or by mistake, my body deserved to be lovingly cared for during the process.
Yoga helped me reconnect with myself
When I felt ready to get back on the mat, it was like returning home. I was discombobulated after all the emotional and physical turmoil but, as I moved into familiar postures and flowed through my old sequences, I felt myself coming back together and into order.
It felt good to connect again with my body in a physical, playful, and challenging way. My miscarriage was a heavy experience that left me tense and drained. Physical movement has always been one of my favorite ways to check in with myself but also to process emotion. For me, asana (posture practice) was a safe space to be with myself after my miscarriage.
Yoga helped me process
A huge part of yoga that people often don’t discover in mainstream studios is the philosophy and, oh boy, is there a lot of it! There were two yogic beliefs that helped me a lot during my miscarriage.
The first was karma. I don’t mean karma in the sense of “you deserve what you get” but rather that experiences are growth opportunities (source). Beyond just destiny or fate, karma allows us to spiritually progress, often placing challenges in our path so that we can learn from them. As hard as it was at the start, I tried to look into the experience of my miscarriage for learning moments, rather than just trying to push past it.
I also found comfort in the image of the goddess, Kali. Kali is depicted as violent, untamed, and a vicious destroyer and associated with death. Yet within Kali is Shakti, the divine feminine who embodies creativity and fertility. She is an example of how life and death are intertwined rather than mutually exclusive as we are taught to see them in western philosophy. This helped me remain hopeful in a time of despair. The moments that appear to be death are part of the cycle of rebirth.
Yoga helped me heal
Part of the yogic practice is Satsang: gathering to chant, meditate or listen to teachings. The literal meaning of Satsang is to be in the company of true people. Even when we are not actively participating in yogic activities like asana, meditation, chanting, or learning, we can choose to keep Satsang by surrounding ourselves with honest, deep-thinking, kindred spirits. This is something I’ve tried to do throughout my life and I have a beautiful community because of it.
I chose to share my miscarriage with some close family and friends. Being honest about what was happening in my life allowed me to ask for support when I needed it, but also to ask for space when I needed it. I think I healed more quickly because I did not have to put on a brave face for anyone. Talking about my miscarriage also helped to dissipate any feelings of shame that crept in; so often, the things we keep secret gather embarrassment and deep shame around them.
Yoga helped me
Yoga helped me through my miscarriage because my yoga means self-love, healing movement, meaningful learning and contemplating, and loving community. I hope that, if you are navigating a miscarriage or any type of loss, you too can find these things for yourself, whether through yoga or another path.