Yoga and creative arts help young women in crisis channel their emotions. Art and yoga provide essential outlets for women and offer healthy alternatives to violence, self-harm and substance use. Artistic expression gives women a voice. They can write, paint or draw about feelings and convictions instead of acting out with high-risk behaviors.
In addition, the program allows a woman to redefine herself. She becomes ‘an athlete,’ ‘an artist,’ and ‘a writer’ instead of being labeled as ‘troubled,’ an ‘addict’ or ‘at-risk.’ Each young woman carries this new, positive identity into her future, enabling her to create better choices for herself.
Value of Yoga
A growing body of research supports our belief in the efficacy of yoga and meditation classes to support true individual healing and change. Participation in yoga classes has been shown to reduce depression, anger, and anxiety (Pilkington, 2005), prevalent in adolescent women who have experienced trauma and often a root cause of drug use. A myriad of additional benefits include: increased strength, self-esteem, body-awareness, detoxification, healthier organs, stronger immune system, improved focus/concentration and regulated
nervous system. Yoga has been established as an effective adjunctive therapy during treatment for drug addiction (LaSalvia; Stein, 1997), eating disorders and trauma recovery. For someone with a drug or alcohol addiction, healthier organs and lowered anxiety may be especially helpful. Someone suffering from a traumatic experience may benefit from stress reduction and body awareness. Lastly, those with eating disorders will most certainly benefit from higher self-esteem and greater strength.
Value of Meditation
A wealth of research has been done on the efficacy of meditation practices. Research on meditation classes in Massachusetts Correctional facilities showed a significant increase in self-esteem and decrease in hostility and mood disturbance in those inmates who practiced meditation (Samuelson, 2007). Meditation has also been effective in treating addictive behavior such as alcohol, marijuana and crack cocaine use specifically in an incarcerated population (Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 2006). Another study has shown that as little as 8% of inmates who take yoga/meditation classes while in prison are re-incarcerated, versus a national average closer to 60% (Landau, 2004).
Value of Art Therapy
The power of creative arts engages and redirects disorganized and harmful behaviors of youth at-risk (Block, D. & Lang, S. 2003). Art provides an essential outlet for women and offers healthy alternatives to violence, self-harm and substance use. Artistic expression gives women a voice. They can write, paint or draw about feelings and convictions instead of acting out with high-risk behaviors. Through creating art and reflecting on the art products and processes, people can increase awareness of self and others, cope with symptoms, stress, and traumatic experiences, enhance cognitive abilities and enjoy the life-affirming pleasures of making art (AATA, 2007). Studies show many additional benefits, including: reduced symptom severity and interpersonal difficulties, and increased health potential (Korlin, Nyback & Goldberg, 2000), raised self-esteem (Anderson, 1995), and reduced symptoms of depression (Howard, 1990). Countless self-reports also show how art therapy has positively impacted survivors’ recoveries (Reports of Healing Power of Art making by Adult Survivors, 2002, 1999, 1991).