I am starting a series of posts inspired by the amazing women I have worked with as a prenatal and postnatal yoga teacher. After hearing countless stories, I realized there is a huge need for postpartum care conversations.
The ‘Postpartum Myth’ we will debunk over the next few posts: Once someone has a baby, physical, emotional, and mental discomfort is ‘normal’ and does not require additional support.
My Mission: Help every soon-to-be postpartum parent know they DO NOT have to live with discomfort. Each post will provide a list of concerns to look for and what support is available for each one.
Bring In The Experts: As a yoga teacher and doula I can plant seeds of awareness, but I also know when it is time to refer students to an expert when needs go beyond my scope of practice. To properly ‘bust’ each aspect of this postpartum myth, I am partnering with local experts to share critical information and solutions.
When you hear postpartum, what do you think of first? For most, it is the word ‘depression’ right after it.
For this exercise I would like to reframe the word postpartum to be the dictionary definition “…the time following childbirth.” The most critical time of postpartum is after birth until the child’s first birthday, although I feel it is a solid argument to say you are always postpartum once you have a baby.
There have been some wonderful improvements with prenatal care in the US including addressing the whole individual with yoga, mindfulness, therapy, and massage. But we still have a long way to go supporting the postpartum parent. The most common message we see focuses on our ‘bounce back from baby body’. There is a stigma around postpartum depression and less conversation around postpartum anxiety or psychosis. We have books about baby, but most are simple checklists that do not account for the whole experience, especially the recovering mother and adjusting partner.
I would like to change that, using a few tools to help prenatal individuals and couples reflect on their postpartum journey BEFORE they get there. Defining what support looks like for them, creating a solid plan to help set the support systems in place, and giving space for reflection and adjustment in the moment.
Most of my preparations for parenthood focused on having a healthy pregnancy and birth. Although my husband Wes and I read numerous baby books and took baby classes, I felt with a decade of meditation and yoga under my belt, we would navigate our first postpartum year with a calm and level head.
Two weeks into motherhood I found myself exhausted, raw, and doing everything I could to soothe a crying baby forgetting the importance of caring for myself. Parenthood truly humbled me to my core.
I slowly found my feet again using yoga for moments of self care while navigating my first postpartum year.
Here you will find 5 ways to help you or someone you love navigate the first year of parenthood beyond the advice of “sleep when baby is sleeping”.
A Call to Support - Removing Scare Tactics and Judgement from Pregnancy, Labor & Postpartum Conversations
When I was pregnant and even now as a new mother, I seem to experience a weekly barrage of ‘horror’ storytelling and aggressive advice-giving about pregnancy, labor, and postpartum. My responses depend on the situation, but most the time I do my best to be polite and bring it back to the person speaking with a quick exit. “That must have been awful…well look at the time, got to go…”
Sadly almost all of my prenatal yogis talk about ‘fear’ stories they hear and it can be really unsettling. I started to reflect on why we feel it is necessary to ‘warn’ others. Some have good intentions and others like to boast about their misery. Sometimes it can even be a way to prove who is a 'better mom’. An example of all three combined into one, “Breastfeeding was the most painful experience of my life, but I did it anyway, every day crying…” At the root of it, let’s be honest – this doesn’t help.
I would love to propose a new way to support women and men going through this amazing, messy, emotional, beautiful time:
What is Kirtan? Kirtan is a form of yoga that has nothing to do with arm balances or stretchy pants. It is a “performance” of sorts where the leader sings a chant and the audience responds. (Think of hymn singing in church.) The songs are created with short chants in Sanskrit and slowly progress in speed, then slowing down, ending with silence for meditative reflection.
Weirded out or unsure? Just wait until you read WHY this is such a great activity to participate in:
The Power of Singing – As a classically trained vocal performer, I have experienced first-hand the healing power of singing. A Time Magazine article from 2013 stated “What researchers are beginning to discover is that singing is like an infusion of the perfect tranquilizer, the kind that both soothes your nerves and elevates your spirits.” Here are a few notes on why singing every day is a great way to improve mental, emotional, and physical health.
How Singing Changes the Brain and Body **:
Now that we understand why singing is great, let’s explore why chanting is even better:
Why I sing Kirtan – Five years ago, I attended my first Kirtan, not knowing what to expect. The first 30 minutes I felt really uncomfortable, not having sheet music, not knowing too much about what I was saying, and trying to ‘let go’ with my vocal training. After I continued to chant, I started to witness my need for perfection melting away, and my mind chatter calming down. I left with a huge smile and had the best night of sleep. Since then I have enjoyed chanting alone and in groups. I feel it is an amazing form of vocal therapy, bringing me back to why I became a singer in the first place. My mission with Kirtan at Tosa Yoga is to invite others in our community to join in this wonderful experience of peace and joy.
Want to experience Kirtan for yourself? Join us at Tosa Yoga this Saturday, October 24th at 7:00 pm! We will break down the what, how, why of Kirtan, show a quick 10 minute film, and spend some time chanting together. At 8:30 pm we will end and have a fun potluck of community and celebration.
**Want to learn more about the positive effects of singing in a group? The research and resources for the points above can be found in the book Imperfect Harmony: Finding Happiness Singing with Others written by Stacy Horn**
So go ahead – sing away in the car, the shower, or even at work. Find a group to sing with, enjoy some Kirtan, and do not feel ashamed of your voice. It is good for your health!
It was an amazing experience to study Pre and Postnatal Yoga at the Yoga Garden in San Francisco this year. Ever since I returned, I have had numerous questions about pregnancy and yoga. I have also discovered - there are a lot of beautiful women in my life that are pregnant!
Because of this, I thought it was time to write a quick list of great things that will hopefully serve you or someone you love as they navigate the beautiful & crazy thing we call pregnancy.
Disclaimer - I am not a doctor. If you are pregnant, make sure you speak with your midwife/doctor before engaging in any physical activity and ensure every activity is safe for you!! Most of the notes below are for any low risk pregnancy, but everyone should have conversation with a medical professional before planning their own exercise routine. If you are high risk, breathing and intention setting are still wonderful practices to help you navigate pregnancy!
WHY Yoga + Pregnancy:
Pregnant Women are STRONG not Sick - In order to become pregnant and stay pregnant, it requires a healthy strong body. (This is not to say those that struggle with fertility, myself included, are not strong and healthy too!!) Many of my pregnant friends express a feeling of being treated as though they have an illness when they speak to medical professionals, or even when they are around other people. Pretty sure it takes more strength and stamina creating a life for 9 months and giving birth than it does training and running a marathon. Because of this, yoga is an amazing way to keep a pregnant body strong, and help adjust to an ever changing body.
The Power of Breath - In yoga, breathing is a key part of the practice. Not only can breath calm the mind, it is an essential part of that exciting day when you will finally meet your new little one. Also, as your body blossoms, there will be less room and learning how to use your lungs to full capacity is a beautiful gift to help alleviate common pregnancy discomfort.
Bond with your Baby - Let’s face it, even if this is your first child, you don’t have much time between work, planning for your baby, and other obligations to really take time to connect with the growing life inside of you. Taking some time to do yoga, breathe, and slow down, will give you the much needed time to bond with your beautiful baby before their birthday.
Set your Intentions & Process Concerns - No matter how excited and prepared you are, pregnancy and becoming a parent is an emotional rollercoaster. Ghosts appear out of mental closet for both partners. Did your parents tell you about their traumatic birth experience and you fear the same? Do you have apprehensions about the birth, being a parent, or your changing relationship with your partner? Have you experienced miscarriages, or did it take you some time to become pregnant and now you have fears about your pregnancy? Use your yoga practice as a chance to process concerns, be honest with yourself, and with your breath release thoughts that are not serving you. Set your intention, “Healthy, Happy Pregnancy and Baby…” or anything else that feels good for you.
Yoga While Pregnant:
Best Advice on how to Navigate Yoga while Pregnant in a Nutshell - Imagine you have a large, wet sponge strapped to your belly. Your goal is to never wring out the sponge as you go through your practice. It may seem like common sense, but it is a great visual to help prevent closed twists, core work (like boat pose), while still letting you enjoy strong poses (any standing pose, half moon at the wall, etc…). Take a moment to pause before each pose to make sure your sponge is still 100% intact and you will be good to go!
Props are Amazing, Use Them! - Sitting on blankets is really important, especially during pregnancy. It helps to neutralize the pelvis and releases pressure on the pelvic floor. Blocks are great tools to get in, stay, and exit out of poses safely. Bolsters are AMAZING not only for restorative poses, but also for sleeping, especially if you are normally a belly sleeper (and it can help support your arms during long days of breast or bottle feeding.)
Avoid the Urge to be Gumby - The pregnant body does amazing things, including producing a hormone called Relaxin to help the body make room for a growing baby, and to give birth. The downside - this can make you a bit too flexible. If you focus on stretching out to your max, this may cause ligament issues that will stay with you past your pregnancy. Always stick within 70% of your max stretch to prevent going too far, and make sure your practice is focused on lengthening to create room for the baby, not to show off how you can do the splits. Also, think about strengthening muscles in every pose, engaging in every posture vs simply using weight to complete a pose will prevent going to the unsafe flexibility edge.
The Best Advice from Experts - Judith Hanson Lasater a well known Yoga Teacher, Physical Therapist, and author of Yoga for Pregnancy has been quoted to say “If something feels bad, stop; if something feels really, really good, keep doing it. A pregnant woman’s intuition is why the human race is here, so I want them to learn to trust it.”
Yoga by Trimesters - A Quick Glance.
First Trimester - In my opinion, this is an incredibly difficult space to navigate. This is when you will most likely feel anything from exhausted, nauseous, constipated, to emotional, and most the time, people around you have no clue you are pregnant.
If individuals feel healthy with no cramping or spotting, many people continue their regular yoga practice. The truth is, if feeling OK, many people can still do every activity they were doing before pregnancy, including more high intensity classes but it is incredibly important to listen to your body and slow down a bit and get plenty of sleep - remember a small clump of cells becomes a small person in just a matter of weeks! That is exhausting work!
If you have any concerns - definitely reach out to your medical professional resources!
For the First Trimester -
Second Trimester - Although it is described as the best of the three and many mom’s to be regain some energy and appetite, we cannot assume this is the case for everyone. Wonderful things happen, the baby’s kicks are felt, and for most, the word it out so no need to hide that beautiful bump.
This is when most mom’s to be start to slow down from their usual exercise routine. Some join prenatal classes, or if they were in a more intense yoga class, step back a bit to a mixed level OK to take things at their own pace. Props will definitely become a great resource and a consistent yoga practice can help alleviate common pregnancy concerns of swollen feet, back pain, sciatica, and more!
For the Second Trimester -
Third Trimester - The home stretch!! This is a beautiful time to continue yoga, with a big emphasis on breath, and letting go of clenching and controlling. This is a great time to really listen to the wisdom of the body, continue to strengthen, but also release.
No matter how difficult it may seem to roll out that mat, continuing to practice is a great way to prepare for labor and to provide a nice break from the day to tap into breath work and intention setting!
For the Third Trimester -
Blessings - Becoming a parent is a HUGE commitment of love. No matter what the path to parenthood looks like, make sure time is spent to send some loving thoughts your way as well.
This is a lot of information, but still only scratching the surface! If you are interested in a yoga practice while pregnant, have an open conversation with your teacher. They will be honest with their own experience, and will advise you if other classes or teachers are best. Don't have a teacher? Try some home videos, or reach out to a local teacher to see if there are prenatal friendly classes in your community! No matter what, listen to your body and always take some time for positive affirmations and gratitude!
“Oh Annie, they are just being men…” My grandmother’s canned response to rude comments, or explaining why my uncles never helped with cooking or cleaning. The worst part - she felt this was reason enough for me to ‘let it go’.
As a child, I had a difficult time dealing with a dynamic, large, loud, and abused extended family. The men would tease and taunt the women, calling them fat, worthless, and stupid. The women were constantly trying to prove themselves, and would compete with each other to fight the labels. This created disordered emotional eating, depression, and eventually led to relatives finding partners that shared the same absurd sentiments –continuing the negative cycle.
My grandfather was the biggest tease, and although I realized later in life it was to cover up his own insecurities, he would pick and prod incessantly. He was a salesman, and I remember watching him flirt with the waitresses; calling them names like ‘sweetie’ and ‘good lookin’ with a wink while his wife and grandchildren were sitting at the table. We knew he cheated on grandma and they were still together, no one saying a word.
My mother took care of my brother and me by day, and worked at night or on the weekend, yet she was always reminded how ‘lucky’ she was to have my dad making money to take care of her and she never had money to spend on her own needs.
Growing up, I hated being a girl. In fact I would pray at night to become a boy. I was told the story over and over, how disappointed my father was that I was not a boy when I was born, and when I was in 2nd grade I decided to have a ‘bowl’ haircut (it was the 90’s) in hopes to become the boy he wanted. I loved it when people would point at me and say, “What is your name young man?”
When puberty hit, I realized a haircut would no longer help me. I found other ways to navigate the world. I observed confident women, watching how they had the ability to flirt, yet make men feel they were superior. I bantered with my grandfather to practice; learning how to tease back and I longed to have positive attention from men. I found that if I worked harder, yet let men feel they knew best, everyone was more comfortable.
As I entered middle school, I began to watch my younger brother struggle with the same gender issues, but in a completely different way. My mother was determined to raise a son that was nothing like her brothers. Bryan was constantly reminded how awful men could be, making him bitter, and feeling disconnected from women. He felt rejected from our mother the same way I felt rejected from our father.
Here is where we meet the sad truth - GENDER INEQUALITY HURTS EVERYONE. My brother and I carry our own scars from childhood –A dreadful paradox: I prayed to become a boy while my brother felt shamed because he was one.
Anyone that knows our parents understand the incredible love they have for us. The gender bias was not intentional; it was a part of our culture. They did so much for us, making our lives much better than the ones they had growing up. Now later in life I have been able to mend my relationship with my father and my brother is beginning to do the same with our mom, yet we will always carry this hurt with us.
This isn’t just a Small Town or Mid-West Thing – I see Gender Inequality Every Day all over the US.
At work a few weeks ago, I witnessed a young man being harassed; called ‘F-word’ for wearing a pink shirt. When I went over to say that was completely inappropriate my peer apologized and called him ‘gay’ instead thinking that was more appropriate.
While working with clients or customers I have to endure the greeting of ‘hey beautiful’ with a wink and a lingering hug with violating x-ray up and down looks, something that would never happen to a man.
The human brain is built to categorize – this is the only way we can function. This is how we can tell if something is a domesticated pet vs. a dangerous animal – we have assumed mental attributes helping us navigate the world. The issue begins when our natural tendency to categorize has warped attributes attached to it.
Let’s Change the Negative Attributes Tied to Gender –
· A man that helps out at the home is not less than a ‘real man’.
· A woman is not ‘less than’ if she is a stay-at-home mom or works full time.
· A man expressing feelings should not be accused of being a ‘girl’.
· A woman having a firm conversation at work similar to a man should not be called a ‘B$%ch’.
Yoga and Gender Inequality –
In the West, yoga has changed from something only men do, to an activity reserved for mostly women. Yoga is a beautiful practice where the individual is encouraged to connect with their deeper self, find peace, connection, community. Here is my question, why is this considered just a 'female' need?
Change on the Horizon – We are starting to see a shift. NFL and NBA players are using yoga to increase mental performance and improve recovery. WWE wrestlers and famous male musicians praise how yoga has helped them in every part of their life.
Yet in studios and gyms across the US, over 90% of the students are women.
Help Make a Difference –
· Observe your own biases through meditation – Take a moment to find a comfortable seated position, close your eyes and start to bring your attention into your body. Slow down the tempo of your breath. Scan your body from head to toe -slowly inviting relaxation into every part of your body. Once you are centered and relaxed, start to reflect on any gender biases you might hold, or difficult situations you have experienced in your life that relate to gender. As you exhale, release from negative situations where you felt gender inequality. On your inhale, greet positive or gender neutral attributes for the word 'man' and 'woman'. Set an affirmation, or word to help you re-set conditioned attributes as you go through your day. End your meditation with gratitude for one man and one woman in your life.
· Say Something – If you find yourself in a situation where gender inequality is taking place, find the courage to say something. If approached with the spirit of love and equality, this will give others the courage to change perspective, and say something as well.
· Share your Gratitude - Is there someone you know that supports gender equality with their everyday actions? Let them know!
Gender Equality is something we can all live with. It starts with the individual, and from there culture can change.
So let’s get out there,
make a difference,
Yoga has transformed from a quest to find Samadhi – Union with the Divine – to an even more challenging goal – being the perfect specimen of health and fitness in body and mind.
What are we striving for? If having a great ‘yoga butt and arms’ is the focus, then keep rocking my friend. After you have that perfect yoga body and photograph for your Facebook profile picture, what is next?
No matter what your main drive is for starting or maintaining a yoga practice, I encourage you to incorporate the four steps below next time you find yourself on the mat. I saved the best one for last so don’t let the first few discourage you!
See how it changes your practice and who knows, you might find yourself a little bit closer to Samadhi after all.
1. Chill Out about ‘Perfect Form’ – This is where people freak, but please hear me out! It is always important to have a safe practice, but once you have your foundation set, let go of the small stuff. As long as you feel good in your body, who cares if your hand is up or down? As your practice develops, you will find that perfect alignment of your hips and little tweaks along the way, but take a moment in every pose to come back to your breath vs worrying about your physical body. Ironically, once you go back to the breath and intention, your body will naturally open up, shoulders let go, and it is easier to find the small tweaks that feel best in your unique body.
2. Close Your Eyes – During familiar flows – sun salutations, vinyasa between sequences, and other poses that feel safe and comfortable in your body, play with closing your eyes. First, it stops you from looking at other people in class, thinking ‘wow, I will never look like that…’ or other comparisons. Second, it allows you to go deeper into your practice, becoming aware of the sensations going on inside vs outside.
3. Try Something New AND be OK with Whatever Happens – I am super ‘type A’ and I have a mini inner meltdown every time I attend a class and our peak pose is something I struggle with. Yes, I teach yoga. Yes, there are poses that feel great in my body, and others that I haven’t developed as great of a relationship with. Here is the thing – when we try something new, not worrying about what others think, we can really find some joy in our practice. Understand, we are all human and yoga is a ‘practice’! As long as you approach new poses safely, it is OK to try something, fall/not fall and smile, leaving ego out and inviting joy in.
4. Dedicate Your Practice to Someone/Something - This is the most impactful tool to detach from ego during a yoga practice. Sean Corn, one of the most recognized and influential yoga teachers of our time, refers to this as ‘Body Prayer’. How do you do it? Dedicate your practice to someone, something, or a cause by setting an intention. Hold that intention with every breath, thought, and movement. When your practice is in dedication, you are less likely to become obsessed with details and instead connect more with your greater self - beyond your great butt and arms (that look fantastic by the way). This ultimately connects us to the true essence of our yoga practice –unity.
There you have it! Now go out and give it a try. It doesn’t matter what class you attend, or if you are in your own home practicing alone, use any or all of the four steps above and I guarantee you will not only lose a bit of the ego but you will connect to a deeper part of your yoga practice.
Use your dedication and energy to make a difference in the world - rock on yogis.
‘Strong Is The New Sexy’ – Thoughts on our new standard of beauty and how we can all find our own unique version of ‘Sexy’.
Right now, everywhere you look, you will find Pinterest pictures, Facebook posts, or even tank tops in Target with the words ‘Strong Is The New Sexy’. For me this is a very welcomed trend, with my Pitta frame that is naturally sturdy and solid.
It wasn’t until this week that I realized there really has been a dynamic shift going on when it comes to the way women workout to reach this new ideal.
I love running outside, so it was only the absolute bitter cold that drove me to run after work on a treadmill. It was incredibly crowded at the gym, so I grabbed the last treadmill available, right in front of the free weight section. After some time running, I realized the completely new dynamic going on right in front of me –
In the free weight section there were more women than men; women of all shapes and sizes, with really amazing arms and legs, squatting, curling, deadlifting and benching.
These women RULED the free weight section of a very nice gym where people do serious lifting.
I started to think back to a decade ago when I decided to take a weight lifting course in college. I was so intimidated to use the free weight section, full of men grunting, and staring – mostly at themselves. I LOVED the feeling of being incredibly strong and powerful in my body, but I longed to have space between my thighs and thought I needed to be ‘thin’ to be ‘desirable’. Even though I really enjoyed lifting, I gave it up and went back to the elliptical, peddling for an hour a day near most of the other women, counting calories to fit in skinny jeans.
Now, ten years later, I enjoy a wide variety of activities, which definitely include lifting weights and body weight training. The thing is - I don’t do it to be ‘sexy’. Goodness knows at my core I am an awkward dork and I would never fit in that category, no matter how much I lift. Instead, this time, I do it for me - to feel strong, centered, and proud in my body. My natural build and temperament really fit with strength training, and I feel great during and after.
That thought led me to my last reflection – so yes, for me ‘strong’ is the best version of me, but does that mean it is the definition of what ‘Sexy’ needs to be? Ten years from now, the trend will change again. Does that mean I have to go back to the elliptical and drop my weights? My answer - maybe, but this time if I decided to change up my work out, it is because it resonates with me, not because of my desire to fit in, or look like someone else.
I am all for wearing shirts proclaiming how amazing it is to be a strong, fierce woman – I also wear them! I would just like to take a moment to help us realize that being strong, being thin, being curvy, and everything in between can be and IS sexy.
The thing that makes ‘sexy happen’ is the individuals’ ability to feel comfortable and whole in their body, mind, and spirit.
My Challenge - Take a hard look at what you are doing, not just for your workout, but what you do with your extra time, and see if it really resonates with you, or if your intent is to look, feel, or be someone else. Explore other workouts and activities until you find the ones that really resonate with you and make you feel vibrant on the inside and out.
That is where yoga comes in to play - there are so many types of yoga with different focuses and teaching styles to fit every need. Once you determine your personal style - try out different classes and teachers that resonate with you! Yoga is the perfect compliment, and can help you take some time to scrub out your mind as much as your body, guiding you to a more authentic living experience. If you want classes to support your strength training, running, or overall active lifestyle - I encourage you to check out my Wednesday night classes at Haleybird Studios 6:50 pm.
If strong isn’t your thing, then don’t worry, trends will change. If it is, own it and soak up our time in the sun. No matter what, I encourage you to look inside, and see what your version of ‘Sexy’ is. Stop comparing; stop hoping to be someone else, and instead,
Be You -
Just As You Are.
My entire adult life I spent paranoid, doing everything I could, not to get pregnant. My parents were young when they were married and I came around 6 months after their wedding day, so it was pretty obvious that I was not planned and the horrors I heard about becoming pregnant without trying, really could come true. (They have been married for thirty years, three kids later, so I hope they forgive me for writing so candidly about their humble beginnings, but really anyone can do the math...)
Now as a responsible, married, self-aware adult close to thirty, I thought all I had to do was say ‘OK I am ready’ and WHAM, a baby…
Of course I am realizing this really isn’t the case, and after my first experience becoming pregnant, and then having a miscarriage, I started to doubt my body's ability to do the one thing I have been hoping for my entire life.
I have wanted to be a mom since I can remember. Growing up, I thought being a mom would be the best job in the world. My mom WAS my world and I wanted to love something as much as she loved me. I remember as a child responding to the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I told the adult I wanted to be a mom and their follow up question of, “Well that is nice, but what do you want to do for a job?” I was so confused, that is a job, right?
As I grew older I started denying that I ever wanted to have kids, since it was clear in my mind that you could either have a career, or be a really good mom. Most of all, I wanted to do it the ‘right’ way. No judgment to anyone and their family situation, it was just drilled into my head to wait until marriage to have a family.
I remember feeling such a sigh of relief, a sense of ‘I made it’ when I was happily married without kids. Then shortly after that, still no kids, you think – CRAP something is wrong with me! Why did I spend so much time completely paranoid?
Pregnancy is a CRAZY thing! We just think it is ‘normal’ since that is the way we all came to be. Once I really started reading up on the subject, it is actually much more time sensitive, with only a few days a month that can produce the end result of a baby. Then if you can line things up perfectly, and become pregnant, there is still a 30% chance things might not work out in the first 10 weeks.
Now this is certainly not an essay to encourage people that are not ready to have children to care a little less about something so important. Milwaukee’s teenage birth rate is one of the highest in the nation and I do not mean to belittle an incredibly important decision. Rather I hope to reach out to the women and men that are ready to start a family and struggling with miscarriage or pregnancy in general.
Miscarriages suck. I don’t care how far along you are, it is one of the worst feeling in the world. It is physically draining, and mentally you fear something is wrong with your body, your partner has no clue what to do or say, and you pretty much just feel like crap.
Once I built up the courage, I told a few friends, and suddenly I found out about so many other people had experienced the same thing. So why are we so silent? I understand it would be dreadful to have someone share their good news with you and for you to say, “Be careful, this is what happened to me...” But why do we feel it is best to keep silent if it happens to us?
This blog is a way for me to break the silence, start a dialog, and give people tools to work through their own loss. We all need a way to feel better and let go of any guilt, shame, and worry for the future.
So this is where yoga comes in to play –
There are many valuable parts of our yoga practice that can help someone return to their body after a miscarriage, and that can even help a partner process their unspoken worries and fears.
Breath – Our breath is the most critical tool we have to let go of our mind dwelling in the past or reaching into the future.
Use your breath to become more present. You can take a simple mantra – ‘peace in/peace out’ as you breathe. To de-stress I love Kaki Pranayama – exhale out of your mouth through an imaginary straw. This forces us to exhale a bit slower, telling our body we are safe and it is OK to relax.
Getting Back to your Body – Take any asana/physical pose practice nice and slow. Feel each part of your body as it moves in and out of the pose. Make sure you focus on the parts in your body where you carry tension – your neck, jaw, shoulders, hips. Find poses to relax. Maybe start to heat things up, taking more active poses, but slow with the intention to connect with your body.
Intentions – This is where the powerful magic of our yoga practice happens, but it is best to be set at the beginning of our practice and revisited as we work through our physical practice, and really let it go of it all at the end. Think about what is really hurting, you might feel a tremendous loss, you might feel it is your fault (it isn’t at all, but know it is OK to feel however you want to feel). Create your intention from there. “I move past my hurt, and my pain, to find forgiveness and strength.” Revisit this intention in between every standing series, and change your intention as you need until you can pull back the layers and let something else go.
Lastly, let yoga serve as a tool for you through your pregnancy/adoption, and parenthood.
Becoming a parent is one of the biggest, most amazing commitments you can make. It takes tremendous energy and care to be a nourishing parent, and for that, it is essential to nourish yourself as well. Find the time for breath work, get into your body, and set your own intentions. Your children will thank you for it.