Stress and anxiety can play a huge role in the everyday life of a teenager. Forty-eight percent of children in the U.S., ages birth-17, have experienced trauma one or more times in their lives, through accidents, alcohol, depression, family violence, or other circumstances. This is especially true for girls at our group home in Valatie, NY. Thanks to Stephanie, a certified yoga instructor and friend of Berkshire who is offering her time and talent, girls at our Kinderhof Group Home are learning to overcome trauma through yoga.
Mental health professionals find traditional talk therapy alone is not always the most effective course of action for children who experience trauma. Studies show that yoga is equally as beneficial—or more beneficial—than the best possible medications or talk therapy alone in alleviating traumatic stress symptoms. According to a study done by Kripalu-Center for Yoga & Health, “The areas of the brain involving self-awareness get activated by doing yoga, and those are the areas that get locked out by trauma and that are needed in order to heal it.”
During the summer months, Stephanie visited the Kinderhof Group Home and guided the girls in weekly yoga classes where they combined strength and flexibility exercises with relaxation and mindfulness techniques.
"I've really enjoyed my time with the girls and I think they are slowly becoming more interested,” said Stephanie. “I keep track of their progress as I try to understand each girl through the lens of yogic philosophy. This way I can offer classes that meet their needs."
Stephanie's goal is to help the girls create a more self-loving attitude towards themselves which in turn helps them work through the traumas they have experienced during their childhoods.
Girls often enter the group home program with a mindset of self-doubt or self-hate while they are still trying to understand and become comfortable with themselves and their self-image. The weekly yoga classes serve as an outlet for those feelings and the classes allow the girls to explore the ways their bodies can move and grow stronger.
"When girls get to know their mind and bodies through yoga, they can feel so much better about themselves, overall," said Stephanie. “Yoga helps the girls experience their own strength and for many girls, feeling stronger can help avoid feelings of self-consciousness and help build self-esteem and eventually help with overcoming their trauma.”
HEALING THROUGH YOGA
Yoga is not about being able to do the different poses or contorting your body. It's about understanding and helping the girls become comfortable with themselves and self-image."
- Stephanie, Yoga Instructor
"Yoga helps me relax. It helps me focus on the good things instead of the bad."
"I look forward to the classes. I've never done anything like this before."