• Holli Gipson

My Yoga Practice During Miscarriage

Updated: Jan 8, 2019

This is my personal story of the day I miscarried and how my yoga practice got me through the very tough, traumatic experience.

The Day It Happened

I was over 8,000 miles away from my new husband: me, working for my yoga business in Tasmania; he, starting a new career in Tillamook, Oregon. Yes, we are a product of globalization, which is fodder for another post.

It was the second day of the third module in an Advanced Teacher Training I was leading with Sacred Seeds Yoga School.

I spotted a day or so before. I was in the Fuller's Bookstore when I first detected a very small amount of blood. Even though small, my heart leapt in my chest unlike I had felt in a very long time. This was a familiar mixture of shock and panic. But then I remembered being told spotting could happen while the fetus burrowed into my womb. My heart calmed remembering this, however, it was then I realized how attached I was to this fetus and all the vritti (stirring of vibrations in the mind) created from only being several weeks pregnant. "Wow," I thought to myself, "First: I am very much attached to being human; and second: I am in for some great pain with this kiddo."

The few days leading up to it the work load I usually had been happy to handle was excruciating by the time I got home at night. I had headaches, body-aches and extreme fatigue.

It was around 2 am that morning when I started to feel some pain and a little more blood came but I wasn't sure if it had verged past the scope of spotting. Fearing the worst, I called my husband. He was beginning his workday.

"How do I know if it's happening?" I asked him. "I don't want it to happen," I pleaded while holding myself as if I could plug it up and everything would be okay.

After consoling and calming me, we got off the phone. Giving way to hope and exhaustion I fell asleep again, telling myself: "I'll wake up and everything will be fine."

An hour past and I woke to more blood, more pain, more signs that, in fact, it was happening.

This time I called a medical hotline. I couldn't hold back my pain and tears as the woman assisted me in determining I needed to go to the Royal Hobart Emergency Room.

As I drove myself to the hospital I wailed. I let myself cry and make noise and be very weak while maintaining the necessary and alert skills to drive. Yoga is skilled action -- action while being aware of and giving permission for the flow of prana (energy moving through you). There is no greater challenge for yoga than tragedy. Pain, grief and a deep sorrow was already moving through me while I very consciously performed my duties as a safe driver.

When I got to the hospital the first nurse I saw gave me hope again. She said my symptoms didn't necessarily mean I was having a miscarriage. She continued with loving care to assure me, even as the pain became greater, the blood became heavier and clots began to eliminate. Despite this evidence, I allowed her words to soothe me.

At 5:30am she took me back to a private room with the door left open to the general ER. I laid down in Savansana, a warm blanket over me. I had my mala beads with me. I closed my eyes, let the tears run down my face and crackily chanted the Gayatri Mantra while counting my mala (very much like a rosary). I stopped every now and then for a deep breath and to receive the mantra, then picked it back up again when my mind would wander to places that were harmful.

The Gayatri is a mantra that is deeply healing and humbling. The Bhagavad Gita claims it as the mantra of the Divine. This vibration salutes to all the forces of the universe to heal and bring enlightenment. This is the mantra that got me through two and half hours of waiting to know for sure what the verdict was -- what was happening?

I had chanted the mantra many times before: repeating 108 rounds as a student Sunday mornings with East Side Yoga ; blessing the end of classes as a guide of asana at Bija Yoga; transferring the information as an educator to my teacher trainees; showering, cleaning, driving, walking as my own personal healer.

All of these led me to the time I needed to employ the mantra the most: to resist assuming the worst, to lift my downward spiral of helplessness, to resonant the truth: even in that clinical ER room, even in that incredible pain, I -- the moment and the self -- was divine.

After three and a bit times through my mala, the doctor came. She asked some follow up questions. She was fine enough. Empathetic to the degree she was taught to be. And after reviewing the blood tests, she confirmed: it had happened.

Whether resolution came because of the healing properties of the mantra (which I strongly believe it did) or you might choose to believe it was the dulling effect of processing for hours, it doesn't really matter. Either way, when the verdict was revealed I was able to nod my head with ease and accept what I couldn't on the phone with my husband earlier:

It had happened;

I had a miscarriage.

Processing It Through Yoga

For those of us that have been violated, which with the help of the #metoo movement we've confirmed so many have, miscarriage sparks the chitta smirti (mind vibrational memory) of having no control of our bodies.

My miscarriage gave me the chance to acknowledge this familiar and very particular sorrow of helplessness. I haven't completely cleared it, of course, I gladly admit. These deep rooted pains do not clear easily or quickly. But, as it comes up, by recognizing the familiarity, again and again, my past shifts and my relationship to that particular sorrow changes. Little by little, breath by breath, I detach.

Patanjali's Sutras define yoga after all as: Yogas chitta vritti nirodha. I've used a few of these words in this post already. To aid my evolution of this moment, of my miscarriage, I would translate this sutra to mean: when I am no longer affected by, no longer a victim to, no longer a house for these very particular vibrations of a very particular sorrow, then I am in the yogic state of mind. The inevitable contradiction being the process of arriving in a "pure" state of yoga is flowing with the emotions keeping you from that state. If nothing else, Goddess is a paradox.

I write this for me and for you that have had similar experiences. May we heal.

© The Yoga Lobbyist 2018