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How yoga helped me grieve and begin healing after losing a child

Karen S. Exkorn has just released Fifty Two Shades of Blue-ish, a parody of that “other” ever-popular tome. Exkorn is also author of the best-selling book, The Autism Sourcebook: Everything You Need to Know About Diagnosis, Treatment, Co...

My journey with yoga, pregnancy loss and the road to healing after grief

Yoga is a spiritual practice for me, creating the meditative space in which I can be present with myself, drown out the noise in my head and challenge myself in a safe environment. When I was pregnant with my first child 10 years ago, I attended prenatal yoga classes, and used that quiet time to connect with him and my motherhood. Yoga was a safe and comfortable place for me to be.

When my son Norbert was stillborn, I avoided yoga because I associated it with him and his life. It also scared me to be alone with myself, as if the feelings would be too much and swallow me up. When I became pregnant with my daughter, I never thought of practicing prenatal yoga with her. My mind wandered to a very dark place — what if it was the yoga that killed my son?

Yoga and trauma

When we experience a traumatic event, our bodies lose a sense of safety and relaxation, living in a state of hyper-arousal and survival mode. We are constantly on alert and the anxiety can be overwhelming. We disconnect from our bodies and find it nearly impossible to be present in our lives.

After my loss, I discovered a really powerful book called Overcoming Trauma Through Yoga, which helped me come to terms with my grief and made me realize how vital yoga could be in my recovery process. Authors David Emerson and Elizabeth Hopper tell us that "our sense of ourselves is anchored in a vital connection with our bodies." After this type of experience, our grief and trauma can become stored in our physical bodies.

That said, "People who are traumatized need to have physical and sensory experiences to unlock their bodies... tolerate their sensations, befriend their inner experiences and cultivate new action patterns."

Yoga after loss

It took a few years for me to dip my toe into those waters again. When I was ready to take my healing into my own hands, I started attending yoga classes and was willing to risk being alone with myself. Through the yoga poses and the meditation, I again felt a familiar sensation of calm and grounding that I used to have when practicing. I felt that I had finally found a tool that bridged the gap between the “new” me and the “old” me.

Yoga provides you with an opportunity to help you retreat from the world, connect with and find compassion for yourself. The movement, either through prana (breath work) or asana (poses), helps to move the grief and trauma stored in our bodies.

When I first started the Return to Zero Center for Healing, I knew that I wanted to incorporate the teachings of yoga into retreats and workshops that could help women through the grieving process. Through our Yoga After Loss classes, we are now helping parents become empowered and present, while developing a sense of connection to themselves. While, the road to recovery was not easy for me or the women I have met along this journey, I have found that yoga has played a vital role in helping us heal emotionally, physically and spiritually.

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