Restorative Yoga is a gentle and soothing form of yoga that focuses on deep relaxation and healing. It can be particularly beneficial for individuals dealing with Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), especially if you are feeling triggered/exhausted/overwhelmed. Here's a simple description of a restorative yoga self-care ritual for Complex PTSD:
Creating a Calm Space: Find a quiet and comfortable space where you won't be disturbed. Dim the lights, light some candles, and play soft, calming music if you like.
Stamp or Tap Your Feet: Gently tapping or stamping your feet on the ground can act as a grounding technique for when you are feeling overwhelmed or disassociating. These techniques may help distract you from what you’re experiencing and refocus on what’s happening in the present moment. A reminder to your body that you are here and not stuck in the past.
Remind Yourself with Words: I tell myself ‘that was then, this is now, it did happen but it will not anymore’. Often when we are thrown into a flashback, we can remind and reassure ourselves that what happend in the past is not happening anymore.
Gentle Breathing: Start by sitting or lying down comfortably. Take a few deep, slow breaths to calm your mind and connect with your body. If it feels ok to modify your breathing - you might start to make the inhale about the same length as your exhale breath.
Body Awareness: Bring your attention to your body, noticing any areas of tension or discomfort. Try to let go of any judgments and simply observe how you're feeling.
Supportive Props: Gather some props, such as blankets, bolsters, and pillows. These will be used to support your body in various poses, ensuring maximum comfort and relaxation.
Supported Half-Frog Pose: Lie face-down on the surface where you are practising. Place one hand on top of each other and rest your forehead on the back of your hands or forearms. Bend your right knee and slide your leg along the floor to an approximately 90-degree angle (you can also place a blanket or a cushion underneath this knee for extra padding). Option to also place one or two pillows (or a bolster) at the end of you mat to elevate your feet. Repeat on the left-hand side. Stay for 2-5 minutes on each side.
Supported Fish Pose: Position a bolster or pillow lengthwise along your spine while seated. Gently lean back onto the support, allowing your head and heart to lift. This pose can help release tension in the chest and shoulders. Stay here for 5-10 minutes.
Relaxation: Choose a comfortable resting pose, such as Savasana (Corpse Pose), where you lie flat on your back with arms and legs relaxed. Stay here for several minutes, allowing the body and mind to completely unwind. if you don't feel comfortable lying in your back, you can also come to lying on your side with a bolster/pillow in between the legs or lye on your front instead.
Closing: When you're ready to end your practice, slowly bring your awareness back to the present moment. Take a few more deep breaths before gently opening your eyes and honour your own teacher within for making you show up for yourself today.
Question to end with: How can I bring more ease into my day? And into my week?
Remember that restorative Yoga is about nurturing and healing, not pushing yourself into deep stretches or strenuous poses. Be kind to yourself and practice at your own pace. Consistency is key, so try to incorporate this self-care ritual into your routine regularly to experience the full benefits of restorative yoga for Complex PTSD.