This page was created in memory of Roseanne Joni Tait who was stillborn on 27 June 2016. You can read more about Roseanne and her amazing Mummy Dawn here. If you have recently experienced pregnancy or baby loss, we hope you will reach out for help by contacting the following organisations for support and using the yoga resources below to practice self-care. We want you to know that you are not alone, and that our Mother Nurture Yoga classes are safe spaces for openly discussing loss, if you choose to.
Organisations to contact for Counselling and Support
Postnatal Yoga Practice after Pregnancy Loss
Recovery after pregnancy loss or still birth will take time and lots of radical self-care and rest. There is no such thing as ‘getting back to normal’ here, only getting to know the new woman that stands in your shoes. I acknowledge your grief, your shock and the likelihood that you have low or minimal energy.
If you have have recently been pregnant then your body will have undergone a number of physical adapations that affect you in a multitude of ways including (but not an exhaustive list) – hormonal changes, postural adaptations, ligament softening which affects your physical stability, lymphatic system and digestive system, heightened awareness and emotional changes. In short, pregnancy is a completely transformative process which is why the period just following a pregnancy is so important and is called ‘postnatal’. I have suggested below some yoga practices that are suitable during the immediate postnatal period, or that can be used as a process of ‘postnatal recovery’ at any time after having lost a baby – even if you are coming to this many months or years later the practices are still beneficial.
The postnatal process I take my clients through has three stages:
I’ve included a below some example practices for each stage.
Part 1: Nourishment
On all levels, make self-care your first priority – eat well, rest well, enjoy the things you love. Only once you are well-nourished on all levels can you really begin to heal. Here is a nourishing yoga practice.
Supported Relaxation Pose
Adopting a supported relaxation pose with the knees bent up (or resting on cushions or a chair) helps to relieve back ache and makes it easier to breathe deeply and efficiently. Even very early on in pregnancy, your postural alignment changes due to the relaxation of your ligaments and adjustment to the growing uterus. It takes time for these things to readjust postnatally and this posture will help. Breathing deeply also gives space, oxygen and a gentle massage to all of the abdominal and pelvic organs.
While you rest in this pose, you can practice the following breathing exercise or download a free guided relaxation.
Nourishing, Healing Breath
- To prepare for this practice make the sound “haaaaah” with your mouth open (as if you were steaming up a mirror).
- Feel the power on this exhale as it is sent out of the body and into the room – “haaaaaah”.
- Now make a similar sound, but with your mouth closed, feeling the outflow of air through your nasal passages. Feel the breath pass at the back of the throat, as if like a soft, silk scarf.
- Once you have the hang of it gradually let the exhalations get softer and longer. The sound is barely audible – just enough for you to hear.
- Notice how the power on the breath can now be directed within you, to wherever you need it most right now.
FYI – this is also a gentle pelvic floor exercise – see if you can feel a gentle drawing in and up with each exhalation – no effort required – just nature’s healing breath.
Part 2: Stability
These practices build on part 1 and can all be done lying down on your back. They involve trying to move the legs, without moving your pelvis. You should feel the firm layer of muscle across the front of your pelvis engaging to keep you stable. As you work with your breath and strengthen this muscle, you will be able to maintain this inner stability while performing more ‘vigorous’ exercises.
Step 1: start with your knees bent up and feet on the floor. Gently pick up one foot, place it down, and then the next. Notice how your pelvis will probably lurch from side to side. Now, press your lower back to the floor and see if you can step the feet without allowing the pelvis to move. Just a few times and then rest. Gradually biuld up to 20 steps.
Step 2: Once you can easily do step 1 move on to this. Starting in the same base position, extend one leg straight out in front of you. On an exhalation, and holding the pelvis steady, take the straight leg out about six inches to the side and hold it there as you breathe in. With the next exhale bring the leg back to centre and place your foot back down. Repeat on the other side.
Part 3: Vitality
Vitality is a natural consequence of nourishment and stability. It may take some time before you feel truly ‘well’ and full of vital energy. Good food, deep rest, time outdoors and doing things you love all help create feelings of wellbeing. Once you have some energy, joining a regular yoga class would be a great way to continue to learn about your self and look after your body.
Here is a very simple joint-releasing practice for your feet! These foot exercises can be done seated or lying down. Practice one foot at a time so you can compare sides and feel the freeing effect these simple exercises have. Strong and flexible feet and ankles is a key component of postural stability – these exercises directly affect the way you stand and walk and can thus have a big impact on your general posture and postnatal recovery. The slower and more attentively you can do them the better they work!
Establish a comfortable and steady breath. Repeat each practice for 6 breaths, or as long as you feel like.
Practice 1: As you inhale, spread the toes of your left foot as wide as they will go, as you exhale curl them in tightly, as if trying to hold a pencil with your toes. Inhaling, spread the toes and imagine you can actually invite the breath in directly through the spaces between the toes. On that breath comes nourishment and vitality. As you exhale and curl the toes you lock that nourishment and vitality inside you.
Practice 2 and 3 are both movements at the ankle joint – take care now to relax your toes and just move at the ankles.
Practice 2: As you inhale point your toes away from you, opening up the space at the front of the ankle joint. As you exhale, push into the heel and point the toes towards your face. As you move, be aware of all the sensations you can feel in the joint.
Practice 3: Now take the foot around in a circle, rotating slowly at the ankle joint. Can you make half of the circle with the inhale and half with the exhale? Is it a circular movement or is it slightly elliptical? Are there any sensations or sounds?
Now pause and notice the feeling of the left foot compared with the right. Repeat on the other side. Once you are familiar with the practices you can do both feet together.