Overcoming Trauma: How Yoga Helped Kathy White Through Grief and Loss
In this episode, Kathy shared her tragedy of losing a child at birth and how she overcame her grief with the help of yoga.
When Kathy was in her 30’s, she gave birth to a child; unfortunately, he died. This life-changing tragedy leaves Kathy’s life in the dark as she grieves her child’s loss.
But just a few months later, the light shines again as Kathy’s friend invites her to a yoga class, which begins her journey to the discovery of healing and growth.
Kathy talks to Dr brad about how important for you to trust your friends, especially in times of your adversity, because friends can give you the guidance to bounce back and continue your life.
Furthermore, Kathy tells Dr Brad the problem nowadays is that people view fitness movements as hard, aggressive, or extreme, which causes ordinary people to be hesitant to try fitness. But in reality, just a 10 to 20-minute walk daily is enough to keep that sense of movement in their body. And doing so will have a huge impact on our longevity or our future.
Kathy White’s story proves that one can be brought down in the face of grief. But remember that it is not the end of your life. Trust your friends and just keep moving–don’t stop. And indeed, you can overcome the feeling of grief.
Episode 275 of The Beyond Adversity Podcast is a must-listen for any mother or parents that is drowning in grief and are searching for an inspirational story of a woman losing a child at birth, suffering from grief, but eventually getting back in life and moving forward.
“The Beyond Adversity Podcast with Dr. Brad Miller is published weekly with the mission of helping people “Grow Through What They Go Through” as they navigate adversity and discover their promised life of peace, prosperity and purpose.
Dr. Brad Miller 0:00
Our special guest today is Kathy white. She is an expert in health and longevity, particularly when it comes to yoga, and particularly when it has to do with having vitality, and good health for folks who are over 50. And she has the joint renewal system. Kathy, welcome to Beyond adversity.
Kathy White 0:23
Thank you, Brad. Lovely to be here. Yes. Great to speak with you today.
Dr. Brad Miller 0:28
Well, appreciate you joining us as we have quite a few folks on our listening audience and myself included who are over, over 50. And you develop certain challenges in life as we age, and doesn't always have to mean that your life is over with Oh, does it. So what I mentioned talking to you about is a little bit about your life and your career. And particularly, what were some of the, perhaps the challenges in life, which led you to lean into yoga, as a way of dealing some of those challenges in life.
Kathy White 1:02
While leaning into yoga is kind of a small way of putting it because really yoga was my lifeline. When, when I was in my early 30s, I sadly lost a child, he was stillborn at birth, died at birth. And that event and talking about adverse events, adversity that was you know, completely tragic life changing, I was grief stricken. And the subsequent months after his death just froze really, I didn't, I didn't trust my body. It had produced a dead child. I didn't I didn't trust life going forward that I could actually have another child. And I remember a friend of mine, saying to me, you know, a few months in after, after Ben had died saying, Come on, Kathy, I'm going to take you to a yoga class. And I was like, do and didn't want to I was you know, I'm too sad to do anything here. And, uh, but I went anyway, you know, she had something she said sparked a light in me and I went anyway, and sitting in that yoga class, at the end of the class, I was just really struck with how present I'd been to my body for the first time in months since, you know, losing Ben. And, and how important that was, how important it was that even though you know, my heart was still really sore, even though I was still recovering, because it's been an emergency C section recovering from surgery, even though I just had a nine month pregnancy, you know, and that's quite a toll on the body for even a normal, healthy pregnant woman. All of that, besides the yoga gave me something that just woke me up and made me feel more alive. And was was the beginning of an amazing journey of of discovery and healing and growth. And then I subsequently trained as a yoga instructor. And yoga was, as I say, not just something I leant into. But it was a lifeline, it really pulled me back into into life.
Dr. Brad Miller 3:24
Yeah. So it became not just something to do it became consuming are part of who you are now. And obviously you teach yoga now and a part of this whole process here and the but it seems to me this is a part of a process where you were just helped me out here, Kathy, you know, you were in a bad place. So you'd lost a child. And there's almost nothing worse than that I've, I've, in my ministry, I've dealt with this situation a few times, or people losing a child in the first couple of weeks, few weeks of life. And you know, they say the stress of that is just off the charts, you know, it just puts people in the throes of depression and not only postpartum, but all kinds of other. There's guilt involved. There's psychological issues, it can impact relationships with others, all kinds of things happened. And yet you chose to take this action. And you mentioned a friend took you there. And so I would like for you to relate to our audience here then about what are some actions that you took initially, to get yourself going involved with yoga? And then what you continue to do? What I'm getting at are what are the things you actually have to take actions to do to make a change in your life to get out of that funk? Now? Maybe you're working with people now who got their own bad place to be? What are some actions people can take related to this?
Kathy White 4:50
Yeah, I think that's a really good question, Brad. I think the the thing was that it was a friend who took me and I think, you know, just is trusting that friends are there, and to allow friends to give you guidance, you know, because I was stuck in my own little grief world. Well, it wasn't a little grief world, it was a huge grief world, it was all consuming. And so for someone to actually come in, and someone who I trusted and someone come in and say, you know, come on, let's, let's pull you out of this just for an hour, you know, just for our it was a 90 minute class, I think, just just for a little while. So really trusting that, you know, going out into the world and doing something different is part of the process. And then the fact that that yoga was my medicine, as it were, that was my healing journey. For me, I'd always been a meditator, you know, I always love to just sit in silence and meditate. And so I found that meditation was was helping me through my grief process. But what was really frozen was my body. And I think people forget that when you go through traumatic experience, when you're going through adversity, the body will freeze, because you're in fight or flight or freeze mode, the body will get stuck. And so for me, this healing journey of really having a practice which yoga is and you know, Tai Chi Chi Gong, those kinds of more meditative movement practices to get the body flowing again, because we are 70% water, we want to we don't want to stagnate, that doesn't go well. We want to keep everything flowing. And so for me, that was that was also really key about how yoga helped and address. So
Dr. Brad Miller 6:46
I'm hearing you say a key word here, I believe Cathy helped me out if I'm wrong, movement, the action of moving your body also helps connect with your mind and your healing forces of your coming through a drug drama. And I'm assuming also this also is integrated with your life, your spiritual life, your emotional life, your life, in relationship with others, is that a fair thing to say that but a starting point is movement? Is that a first?
Kathy White 7:18
Yeah, that's absolutely a starting point is movement. And I think I mean, there are there are lots of studies about how yoga helps with anxiety and depression, for anyone, whatever, you know, adverse event that they they've been through. So yeah, and and you know, there are other other studies, talking about movement, getting out and walking, everyday walking in nature, just that simple kind of movement. So you know, if your listeners aren't drawn to yoga, per se, just any kind of movement, just keep moving, don't sit and stagnate.
Dr. Brad Miller 7:53
We're in the context of part of your work is we're working with people over 50 people are aging and, and I think there's a certain pertinence and relevance to this, as well, that the tendency and kind of the stigma as it were, is for people do, hey, you're retired, slow down, hey, you're getting up there, don't take, don't take a physical risk, don't fall down, don't get hurt, or whatever it is. Can you say a word about how this this bias towards mood, but it's also important in aging properly with Vitality, or even a longevity type of thing? Could you say a word about that?
Kathy White 8:33
Yeah, I think it's, it's really super important. And, you know, the problem is, Brad, that as I see it, anyway, is that we live in this this world, this Western culture, that that really emphasizes a kind of fitness movement, which is, which is hard, which is sometimes aggressive, which is, you know, so that the average person who is slowing down in life who is kind of a little bit older, will will look at well, you know, they say I have to move and then they see, you know, some big spin class at the gym or aerobics or going for a jog a 5k jog every day, or, you know, like, there's really kind of what could be fairly extreme. If you if you're fairly stationary. You know, if you've had a desk job all your life and haven't done too much, then then then that kind of you know, you've got to move becomes like some extreme sport thing. And I would just say no, you've got to move you've actually the amount of movement you need, like a 20 minute walk every day or a 10 minute walk every day. Is is a lot for some people to do, but it's enough to keep that sense of movement in their body. I mean, I really encourage my students who come to me, like, don't think you have to do an hour of yoga a day, even five minutes. 10 minutes of doing a few poses, just getting into those joints is going to give huge benefits over time. If you think long in terms of longevity, if you think what you're doing now is going to impact in five years in 10 years, it's going to make a huge impact in your future. And it doesn't have to be that much.Dr. Brad Miller:
Yeah. So it's a cumulative effect I'm hearing you say you got to, if you do it, and you keep doing it, it's going to get better be more beneficial for you. And I assume also, easier is one word, but at least you're more acclimated to doing. If you're walking 20 minutes a day, the first time you do it might be hard, but but six months intuitive, you're more acclimated to it,Kathy White:
for sure, for sure. And then it becomes part of your daily routine. I mean, people don't well, most people, I hope, don't think twice of brushing their teeth, right. So five minutes a day, every you know, morning and evening. And brushing your teeth is kind of what you do, well just stack five minutes of yoga onto that you can do it standing up, you don't have to get a fancy yoga mat or equipment, you know, just a few poses a few movements that you can do. And then it just makes all the difference within that consistency can be built on because once you've got a little bit happening, then you can grow. You know, if it's five minutes, you can say, Okay, well, I tried 10 minutes today.Dr. Brad Miller:
Well, you're touching on something, I think he made a testimony inadvertently. But that is that a lot of people when they think yoga Cathy, they are intimidated by it. I know I am, I'll speak for myself. I've done a little bit of yoga as a part of a part of an exercise plan. And after a while I said, Okay, I'd rather go back to lifting weights. This is more my personal thing. But this for some people, they think oh man yoga, twisting myself up in knots and bending backwards and being like, whatever Olympic gymnast or some of these folks you see on YouTube videos or whatever, I yeah, that's not for me. So, exactly. So tell me, tell me how you can respond to that how you can share something with that person. Maybe like myself, who has that kind of a feeling?Kathy White:
i Yeah, well, I would say try and erase all those images of like Cirque du Soleil. All those pretzel shapes and you know, unfortunately, Yoga has been a kind of overwritten by live pretty 20 something year old, very flexible, young women. And if you go onto if you go on to Instagram, or any of the social media channels and start looking for images of yoga, that's what you'll see. That's probably why you're not you're not gonna see many, Dr. Brad Miller's doing, right?Dr. Brad Miller:
I'm 64 years old and 220 pounds, you just don't see guys like me doing a lot of yoga ever.Kathy White:
You know, and if you've come to my classes, you know, I have certain classes sometimes where I've got eight guys in the room doing doing yoga, or maybe three women. And and one of those guys will be on zoom in. It's my 92 year old father. Okay, gotcha. Another, another of those guys will be my 71 year old husband. Another of those guys is going to be my 67 year old sailing buddy. And you know,Dr. Brad Miller:
so you're trying to break through what you're sharing with me here, Kathy, is you're trying to break a pattern or break a understood norm by saying doesn't have to be this way. It can be older guys, among others, who can do this and find benefit from it and be a part of it overall. Vitality and aging.Kathy White:
Pro. Exactly. Exactly. And I think that you know, the the the essence of yoga Brown is that we're we're doing mindful movement, we're bringing awareness into the body. And that doesn't mean that you have to get into a chicken, Asana and you have to do this pose, and you have to cross your legs and put your head behind. You know what, but all of that is just nonsense. Because everyone can move their body everyone can do the yoga that I teach, because you always teach in a position as your starting position is a starting position that you have day to day functionality is not going to be difficult. If you can't get to the floor, we put you on a chair. If you can't, you know lift your legs up, then we put your legs out on another chair. And there's always modifications. I tell you if I can get my 92 year old father to do some of these poses. He's not going he's not a pretzel guy. He's not got spaghetti legs or anything like that. He's not unusual. He is stiff, regular old body. But he manages to do because I bring The practice in and down and modify it to a starting place that he has already he has that starting place. And then we just build and say, Okay, that's your starting place. Where can you move to?Dr. Brad Miller:
Well, I think it's awesome. Because otherwise people give up and say, Okay, this isn't for me, you know, they'll just say, Forget it all, move on to something else, or more, more often really give up completely and not do anything and kind of descend into a malaise, I often call it kind of a malaise of how you do things. Let's talk about somethingKathy White:
to say to say to people, Brad, that it's not about the shape you take, it's about how you feel. So I'm getting people to be much more in tune with. So if they have a shoulder issue, and I say, you know, bring your arm up behind your head, and they can't get all the way up. It's like, okay, well, where is the range of movement movement? And how does that feel? So, really working with the feeling, not the external look?Dr. Brad Miller:
Awesome. I don't think folks often do when they think kind of the way to think about yoga in terms of its image is about the its aspects about mind body, spirituality, centeredness, these type of things and tell a little bit about that. How, if there a relationship between kind of a spiritual mode, a mind body, emotional mode, how does that all work together, if at all, to help a person to move towards optimal or optimal health?Kathy White:
Yeah, well, I think the first thing I would say on that is that yoga is a spiritual practice. That, you know, it's because because it comes from India and the Hindu tradition, like for some people, that's a little off putting, you know, if that's not your tradition, and that's not something you're familiar with, it's like, oh, is a weird, weird thing that they do. And, you know, there's weird words that they say, and it's unfamiliar. But it is seen as a practice that helps integrate the body, the mind, the heart, and the Spirit as one. So that idea of, you know, being competent, to be complementary to any other religious or spiritual practice that you that you may have, you know, if you're a Buddhist, you can do yoga, if you're a Christian, you can do yoga, if you're an atheist, you can do yoga, it's not necessary to see it as a religion. However, the spiritual component for me is that it connects you to your breath, to the moment to presence, it awakens you to what's happening inside of you, so that you can show up in the world as a kinder, more generous, more giving person and you're able to receive the world into your heart and engage, because you're not consumed with tightness or tension. So your body is feeling happier. You're not holding your breath, because you've worked with your breathing patterns, and that you're awake and alive. Because you, when you spend an hour on your mat, doing yoga, you're practicing being present to everything that occurs. And that to me is the spiritual practice being present to life as it happens, not often the first are off in the future.Dr. Brad Miller:
So would you say that this yoga could be a part of a, a physical practice or manifestation that can be a part of helping people to connect with a higher power or connect with something greater than self? That can be part of helping them feel more at one at peace, I guess is the word I'm looking for. Can this be a permanent process?Kathy White:
Absolutely. I think the root of the word yoga Brad is is connect, to connect to to yoke and we our word yoke comes from the word yoga, but to connect to join things together. So you know, in this world that we live in today, we're all kind of all over the place. We're all fragmented. We've got this going on that going on with distracted we've got you know, social media blasting out us. We've got news feeds, we've got our busy lives, our families, and it can get very distracted. And I think that's what when people turn to a higher power higher source when they turn to spirituality, they want all of that to settle and I think yoga is an amazing excellent practice for joining with All the different fragments of ourselves and bringing together as one. And that for me is, then you're accessing that greater one. That higher power as you describe it.Dr. Brad Miller:
Yeah, I think it's important. Yeah, it's part of the holistic approach to health in the sense of, you can't really be truly wholly healthy unless you have a your physical health, you know, whether it's getting over a cold or surgery like I had recently, or, and then you connect up with your emotional well being with other people. And then your spiritual life is a part of that too, as well as your cognitive, your mental, you know, thinking how to think about things. And so I'd really like to talk to you for a second here a little bit about the cognitive piece of the piece about how we implement this if we wanted to make yoga kind of a part of our life, you know, how do we strategically implement this? How do we make it a part of who we are? Because I think what I'm hearing you say is it particularly for people over 50, if you make as a part of your life, it can help it can help you have more vitality in life. So let's talk for a minute about how you would implement this. You know, what kind of habits, what kind of processes, what kind of practices that you teach, and what you advocate, that are part of things. And this might be where we want to talk about your joint renewal system. I know that's where a lot of people get into trouble as they get older as their joints. Yeah, practice practices, habits, processes. That's where I'm going now.Kathy White:
You'll show no good point, because you know, if listeners are kind of like, oh, maybe yoga needs a rethink, maybe yoga or something, so it's slightly different than what I've seen on Instagram. Then I would say, first thing is, find a teacher, find two teachers find three teachers keep going and go and practice with various different teachers don't land on one, don't say, oh, you know, it's useful if a friend is going to a yoga class already. And they say, Oh, come along with me. It's like, great, go to that. And you may love that first teacher. And that's it. You're done. You're hooked. But don't be shy to go to a class, try it out, go to another class, try it out, try it out online, try it out in person, and find your style, your preference, your way of working. I would say for most people over 50 probably those stronger yoga is like power yoga, fast yoga, hot yoga, Ashtanga Iyengar, they can be quite strong practices. So look for something that's maybe more gentle Yin is the word that's often referred to or restorative is often because by the time we're 50, we often do have injuries or surgeries that we need to manage. And also be aware of the age of your yoga teacher, if they're just a young 20 something year old student recently graduated yoga teacher themselves. When a 50 year old person comes into the room or a 6070 year old person comes into the room, they might not have that much experience or wisdom or ways in which they can instruct you, especially around modifications, an older student teacher will have that experience in their body because they will have had their own injuries and accidents and surgeries. And there'll be in an older body, they'll know what it feels like to have creaky joints. And, and then just see whether it fits or not. And don't be shy to not come back and go to another class and not come back and go to another class. I mean, we live in a world where yoga is so readily accessible, accessible these days, like every town, city, whatever will have at least one if not 100 yoga studios.Dr. Brad Miller:
So the idea is highly classified a teacher and go check it out,Kathy White:
find a class, find a teacher, check it out, see how you like it. If you don't like it, go to another one. If you don't like that, go to another one. Because you will see that they're all wildly different. The teachers are different. And it's really important that you build that relationship between your teacher and you because you're basically putting your your body into their care for that hour, and trusting that they're going to guide you into moves that are going to benefit you.Dr. Brad Miller:
Are there a viable online options for this or is that not preferable?Kathy White:
I think well I do teach online and when I have a new student come on, I try and meet with them beforehand so I can discuss, you know, what are the things going on in their body so that I'm really careful and when I teach online, I look at my students, I mean, then this is also something to check out, if you do choose the online option. I don't have my students look at me. So I'm not on screen demonstrating poses, I'm on screen, you just see my head, I'm just looking at you on and you've got your camera on your body. And so I can refer to you to what you're doing and tell you and correct you and modify it and everything else. So it's a, it's a different, and that really helps the mindfulness piece of it too, because a student can just close their eyes and listen to me, they don't need to keep looking at well, what's what's Kathy doing? And how do I do that. And, you know, they're there. Their mind is very much in their own practice soundsDr. Brad Miller:
very engaged and engaging, as well as personal in that matter, and that that's a good thing. Regarding classes, I'm going to ask you a kind of a silly question, because I'm just curious about this one. In my area, there was a promotion not too long ago about I think it was called goat yoga. Is that a thing?Kathy White:
There is goat yoga, there's high heeled yoga, there's yoga on paddleboards. There's Yeah, I mean, people are doing yoga all over the place, it's become a thing.Dr. Brad Miller:
All right. I thought surely I thought somebody was making something up and being silly and dumb or whatever. Okay, but But what I'm hearing you say is that there's kind of all kinds of, I don't know, nuances. You might say, gimmicky. I don't know if you would or not. But, you know, there's definitely some gimmicky, different ways of doing it. But goat yoga is one thing that came to mind. So let's talk about this talk about the payoff now or how it the results or results happen for people. And I'd like you to speak about maybe changes or testimonials or anything, you've seen it some of the folks that you've worked with. And rfca, either maybe even yourself, you've mentioned that a little bit, but particularly you've worked with what kind of changes have you seen happen to people who have made a bit of a commitment, come to the classes and said this is a part of who I am? Told me story? Yeah.Kathy White:
Yeah. I think one of the stories that I share is one of my students, she actually found me online during the pandemic. And she was a little desperate because she wasn't able to go see her chiropractor anymore. And she had been relying on weekly visits to her chiropractor to keep her back in in order. But of course, as you as you probably know, as people may know, that, you know, what a chiropractor does is wonderful. They, you know, click you back into place and realign the system. But then unless you're doing something that keeps the alignment in place, the system will just crack out again. So but she was managing by just being put back in, put back, put back in. Now, when she found me online, she started doing the yoga and she's still to this day, a student of mine coming with me to twice a week she comes to class online. And she has not been back to see that chiropractor. She does not mean not needed to go back her back is fine her back she sails she's you know, she's in her 50s similar age to me. And she Yeah, she's active. She has a desk job. So that's partly why she struggles with back stuff. So she, and she's aware of that. And the yoga has become just her absolute her. It's given her her backbone. Really? Yeah. That's,Dr. Brad Miller:
That's awesome. That's awesome. So you see changes happening to people? And this is one example of that. And yeah,Kathy White:
yeah, I haven't been I have another story of a student of mine. She has been with me for again, well, since I opened the studios in Canada here in five years. And about 18 months ago, she came to class, she's in her 70s. And she came to class and she said, there's something going on with my foot. And I said, Why don't let's just take a look. And I'm not a doctor, I'm not a medic. You know, I don't diagnose. I don't go into any story, whatever. I'm curious. Let's see what's going on there. And for about two or three months, we I would give extra modifications. I was using sandbags on the first I was using different things that we could do when we were doing foot flexion and foot points. And within that period, the foot started to come back to life. Now, another 70 year old who's not doing yoga would have had a drop foot. That would have just continued being dropped. But she got it back. She got it back.Dr. Brad Miller:
Wow. That's awesome. That's awesome. So people are finding results with this and you're a part of it. And you're part of what you do is to share what you're learning share what you're about with other people. And that's part of why we're here today. So, once you share with us a little bit about you have the joint renewal system, tell us what that's about. And then about how people can find out more about you and get connected with you if they want to learn more about what what you're all about and make a connection with you.Kathy White:
Okay, well, the joint renewal system, Brad that came out of my practice, you know, after I lost my child went to my first yoga class, I then loved yoga, I trained as a yoga instructor. Fast forward 20 years, I hit menopause. And I my joints started aching, that was one of my menopausal symptoms. And I was just desperate because my yoga wasn't working for me anymore. And that was, you know, trapped. Knowing that yoga had been such a lifeline for me, I couldn't give it up. And so I desperately sought out a different teacher a different method, and I came across this method called Coyote, that's k ay ay UT, and a teacher in Brazil called Francisco Coyote, who's the founder of the method who used to be a chiropractor, funnily enough, anyway, he gave me and trained me and gave me this insight into joints. And so with all my other yoga experience, plus what I gained from the coyote method, I put together this joint renewal system. And for me, the emphasis on the joints rather than stretching, which is what people often associate with yoga. But no, we're not stretching, we're moving the joints, which may incur a slight stretchy sensation, but we're really looking at how does it feel inside the joints, we're applying pressure to the joints, because that's what they thrive on and need. And we're applying range of motion activity to the joints. So we're trying to increase the range of motion always in every joint, ankles, knees, hips, shoulders, spine, neck, hands and feet, all the joints in the hands and feet, the every joint in the body gets a particular emphasis and work out through the whole one through 100 class plans that I teach fromDr. Brad Miller:
Awesome. Well, it sounds like that's an opportunity for folks to get connected with you of what work can they make that actual connection if they'd like to get connected with you? What website?Kathy White:
Yeah, yeah, well, if they can see the hand up here, sign up here, Kathywhiteyoga.com, www.Kathywhiteyoga.com. That's Kathy with a k, white with an i, Kathy white yoga, all one word. And on my homepage, on the front page, there's a free guide that you can download the three mistakes to avoid when doing yoga over 50. And I think it's a really important thing to read. If you're going to go to a class, you can come to my class, I do have online classes. I also have a membership site. But the first place to start is just sign up with me and then you'll be on my mailing list and I can send you information promotions that I have classes with I'm teaching workshops that I'm giving, sometimes online sometimes in person.Dr. Brad Miller:
Well, awesome, awesome insights here and helpful for anyone, particularly people over 50 who are looking to stay vital, healthy and alive and go strong, go strong to the you know, from the race to the end and be strong with it and so, appreciate your insights. Her name is Kathy White. She's with Kathywhiteyoga.com and she has the joint renewal system. And she has been our guest today on the beyond adversity podcast with Dr. Brad Miller.