The Benefits of Preparation : Restorative Yoga

USA Today Best Selling Author Kiki Howell shares her experience with at-home psychedelic ketamine-assisted therapy. Stayed tuned for future installments from Kiki, as she takes us through her ketamine therapy experiences. 


As a yoga teacher, I love teaching restorative yoga classes where I can take my students from their hectic, stress-filled lives, and move them slowly into a state where they can rest in a yoga pose, supported by bolsters and blocks and blankets. I’ve had many students at the end of a  class who would say they didn’t want to leave the little yoga cocoon I had worked them into. 

With these experiences in mind, and having used restorative yoga over the years to calm myself down, I decided that incorporating yoga into my at home ketamine experience had to be a good idea. I can honestly say that it made quite a difference. As you can probably surmise by this point in the blog series, I did a lot of prep work around my psychedelic therapy. I literally made it a day for me for all six treatments. Now, I understand if your life does not support that kind of time or investment, but I can assure you that the more you can do for yourself around the treatments, the more ketamine psychedelic therapy will work for you. 

A Quick Way To Prepare

So, let’s say you have come home after a long work day and your ketamine experience is scheduled for an hour later. You have time to journal, maybe ten or twenty minutes to solidify your intention. You grab a few favorite things to support you that you have around your house. You apply your signature scent that you made on your last day off. And, you can do two yoga poses along with a short yoga nidra, planning to stay in the restorative pose throughout your experience if you wish. With a little preparation before, it doesn’t have to take up that much time before the actual treatment if you’re concerned that time may be an issue for you. I state this in my best supportive friend, cheerleader voice, don’t let time be the excuse to short-change yourself on making a life-altering experience the best it can possibly be. Yes, that is my humble opinion if you wish to take it.

Let’s get this simple, seated-on-the-bed yoga started with a vinyasa pose called Breath of Joy. Vinyasa is simply blending movement and breath. It helps us to get out of our heads, stop thinking about our day or our troubles, and turn inward toward the body. Incorporated into Breath of Joy is also a flow of the body from a tight or closed pose to an open pose, which psychological studies have shown to combat anxiety and depression. As an added bonus, spinal movement brushes away the cobwebs that form between our fascia from inactivity making us stiff and sore.

Breath Of Love

Starting from a comfortable seated position, whatever that means for you, you will start to focus on your breath. Just simply notice it. Are your inhales short and jagged? Are your exhales nice and long? No judgment, just noticing. If you want to give yourself a little challenge, you can count the inhales and exhales, then try to make the exhale one or two counts longer than your inhale. This tips off the parasympathetic nervous system to calm down, as calm breathing patterns naturally have longer exhales. Hey, trick it if you need to. As they say, fake it until you make it. Calm is no exception here.

Once you’ve settled into your breathing, start to move the spine. With your next exhale, start at the hips, rounding your back, vertebrae by vertebrae, until your shoulders round forward and your head drops gently toward your chest. Think of this as a seated version of a cat arching its back. I can’t stress enough, these do not have to be major, flowy, nor bendy movements. Micro movements will do. Whatever your body is agreeable to, at that moment, is all you have to figure out. You do you. With yoga, that can change daily. 

Next time you need to inhale, starting at the hips again, and this will feel weird, begin to arch the back vertebrae by vertebrae. Basically, you tip your hips forward with the back still rounded, then move your spine slowly in the opposite direction until your back is arched, your shoulders round back, and your head tips back. Careful in the tipping of your head. Do not do this to the extreme, aim to just look up toward where the wall meets the ceiling. A pinch in the neck is the last thing you need right now. There is a great lesson in learning to not only listen to your body but to be kind and gentle with it as well. 

Now, let's add in the arms. On your exhale, as you round the back, bring your arms in and basically give yourself a big hug.

On your next inhale, arch the back letting the arms fly out wide to your sides or up toward the ceiling, whichever is more comfortable for your shoulders.

Practice this a few times. You may even begin to feel free, empowered, and possibly lighter in mood. 

Restorative Boat

For the second pose, Restorative Boat, you will need to either gather two yoga bolsters and two yoga blocks or three or four pillows will work just fine if you don’t have yoga props. Go ahead, use the decorative ones. You’re worth it!

Basically for this pose you want to prop your back up and raise the head above the heart. If using yoga props, you would lay the furthest end of the bolster from your body on two yoga blocks. If you’re using pillows, use two or three against the headboard of the bed to prop yourself up like you would to read or watch tv. You then sit your hips/back up against them and recline back. The angle is not really a concern here, just make yourself comfortable, head above heart. Place your other bolster or another pillow under the knees. I love to cover up for comfort at this point. I have even been known to use a weighted blanket too. 

You can stay in this pose as long as you want. I use it for my ketamine experience. I have long used it, in bed or on the mat, to journey as well.

Yoga Nidra Meditation

If you would like or need further relaxation, you can go through a simple, shortened version of the Yoga Nidra meditation. Yoga Nidra has been described as a systematic method for inducing mental, emotional, and physical relaxation. To perform it quickly and easily, begin by focusing on your feet first. Tighten up the toes by curling them. Hold a few seconds, then release, and relax. Not too tight. Remember the goal is to gently relax the body, not cause cramps. You will continue to do the same tightening motions, building up through the body. So second, tighten the muscles in the feet and also the legs. Hold a few seconds, then release and relax. Start to notice how your legs sink into the mattress as the muscles release. Third, you will tighten your abdomen. Release. Relax. Fourth, you will tighten and raise your shoulders. Release. Relax. Lastly you will tighten your face, basically scrunching it all up. After you have tightened and held the full body for a few seconds, and then relaxed, literally melting into your mattress, you will be ready for answering your call with your at home ketamine experience guide. 

Calming Techniques For Anytime 

This small sequence can be used anytime you need to calm down. Put on your signature scent, grab a blue lace agate crystal for inner peace, add a blue, calming candle, and work your body slowly through this restorative yoga sequence. This is a good practice to use before bed in the evenings following your psychedelic experience.  

Click here to start your own ketamine experience, and receive 10% off your purchase with code KIKI10 at checkout.

Kirstein Howell is a USA Today Bestselling Author who writes fiction under the pen name of Kiki Howell. A life-long learner, she’s currently a CYT 200 Yoga Teacher with a collection of other certifications that include Reiki, Feng Shui, and Essential Oils. At this moment, she’s studying to be a shaman.

Experiences with ketamine are individual and vary by user.