About 6 weeks ago, my therapist asked me if I would write a testimonial about how restorative yoga has helped me. She was being interviewed for a podcast about how restorative yoga can be used to help people who have been through trauma and have PTSD. While I am not going to share the podcast on my blog at this point, I did want to share what I wrote for her to read. My goal in writing this was to hopefully help other people like me see that there is something out there that can make you feel better.
I started doing yoga about 18 months ago when I began working through years of severe childhood sexual abuse with my therapist. She had suggested yoga as a way to help me cope with the symptoms of complex post traumatic stress disorder. In our very first yoga session, I found almost instant relief from the high anxiety and fear that I had lived in for most of my life. It was like my whole body could finally relax.
As our trauma work progressed, so did my yoga practice. One of my primary coping skills in and out of therapy has become restorative yoga. In restorative yoga, I am able to calm down both my mind and my body. The physical symptoms from complex PTSD for me include stomach aches, joint pain, nausea, and shaking. The psychological symptoms include overwhelming anxiety and fears, intense urges to hurt myself, difficulty concentrating, flashbacks, and dissociation. When I practice restorative yoga, I become aware of what is going on in my body, physically and mentally. I am then able to focus on using my breath to calm myself down and just be present in the moment. For me, this often looks like placing an emphasis on breathing in for five counts and out for seven counts. When I make my exhales longer than my inhales, I can literally feel my body letting go of the anxiety.
In doing restorative yoga, I have had these huge moments of healing and relief surrounding my traumatic childhood. For example, a few weeks ago I was in a restorative yoga class after spending several therapy sessions working through accepting the sexual abuse that I had experienced as a child. During my yoga class, I was in a restorative twist. The teacher recited a quote that talked about how yoga helps us endure the things that we cannot change. In that moment, my entire body felt acceptance for what happened to me. The things that I went through as a child were horrible, but because of yoga, I am able to endure the symptoms of CPTSD; because of yoga, I am able to work through the trauma and heal; because of yoga, I can be ok.
When I listened to the podcast that was released this morning, I couldn’t fight back the tears as my therapist’s voice read my testimonial. And when she finished, I could hear the interviewer fighting back tears as well. I had no idea that my words would be so impactful. So if you’re reading this, and you have PTSD, I want you to know that even though not every day easy, yoga gets me through without cutting or suicide. If you haven’t tried restorative yoga, please, please do.