PTSD and Restorative Style Yoga

This post was contributed by Gloria Thiessen, M.A., RCC, CYT.

Restorative Style Yoga for the Emotionally Exhausted PTSD Trauma Survivor

The body’s need to rest and rejuvenate its vital energies is too often forgotten.  In our active, stress filled world, we can push ourselves to ‘go-go-go’ or ‘get it done’.  We can push ourselves trying to run from painful emotions.  In so doing we can push ourselves well beyond that place inside where we instinctively know how far is too far:  our edge.  It exhausts us to the point where it feels as if we can’t go on.  This can be especially true for the trauma survivor.

Our understanding of where our edge even is can become blurred.  We can’t sense into it anymore because we’ve lost touch with our body and its inherent intelligence.  We can’t honor what we’re not aware of, so we keep pushing. But pushing ourselves past our edge is just part of the picture for the trauma survivor.  At some point the circle of life we live in stops being a circle.  It goes all wonky.

During the day our energies too often travel in one direction – outward -without enough fresh energy generated from the inside out to sufficiently recharge and rebalance the circle. What this means is the body has no space to rest, be at ease with itself and in a position to withdraw its senses from the external environment.  One of the societal myths we live with is being productive means being visibly active. But being productive can also mean being quiet and still; nurturing and soothing.  Like giving the body a large dose of the kind of love that allows us to restore our vital energies, be re-born to the day, but now drawing from a full reservoir of energy rather than a depleted one.

How do we get to this quiet state of dynamic renewal?

One way is through a restorative style of hatha Yoga.  Where the body is held in a posture in a supported way so it can do what it’s designed to do, rest and rejuvenate itself from the inside out. Take the Supported Child’s Pose, for example.  It quiets the mind and restores depleted energy.  It feels so good to do too.  Try it and see.

childs poseWhat you’ll need is a mat and bolster if you have them, as well as a blanket.  If you don’t have a mat or bolster, that’s okay too.  A blanket placed on the floor in place of a mat, and a blanket or two rolled up into a 12” in diameter sized sausage ** will work just fine.  Here’s what to do next:

*Place the bolster or rolled up blanket(s) lengthwise in the center of the mat or blanket.

*Straddle the bolster at one end, with your belly facing the top of the bolster.

*Carefully come forward and lie down onto the bolster, with the belly resting against it, paying attention to creating comfort for the body in this position.  One facial cheek comes down to rest against the bolster.  The hands come to rest alongside the shoulders or ears.  The eyes can be closed or open, it’s your choice.

*Rest here for up to 10 minutes doing nothing in particular (5 minutes with each facial cheek against the bolster), allowing the breath to rise and fall in the body in its own natural way as you hold this soothing position.

The Supported Child’s Pose zeros in on the parasympathetic nervous system and stimulates the experience of relaxation.  It’s particularly good for the trauma survivor whose nervous system can be revving on high a lot of the time.  It can feel so good to the body to experience this kind of effortless relief from the busyness of life.

Even when we’re feeling completely spent, there is hope.  We can balance our energy output by honoring the circle of life and taking the time to rest deeply with a restorative style of Yoga.  The good vibes that come are like a forgotten treasure we re-discover when we take the time to rest and rejuvenate from the inside out.

** Place a blanket on the floor.  Fold it in half, widthwise.  From the narrower edge, roll the folded blanket into the shape of a sausage.  For maximum comfort, the rolled blanket should be around 12” in diameter.  If needed, a second blanket can be added on top of the first, to create a thicker sausage shaped bolster.

 

gloria thiessenGloria Thiessen, M.A., RCC, CYT, is a body-centered trauma therapist and Yoga teacher in British Columbia, Canada.  Over the past 20 years she’s been a leader in the integration of Yoga theory and practice in conventional talk therapy.  Her work empowers stressed out women to feel at home in their bodies and at peace with themselves.  She’s the author of Say Good-bye to the Pain Forever:  10 Secrets to Peace You Can Feel.  For your complimentary copy, visit http://studiopeace.ca/say-good-bye/.

 
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