News / Health

    Yoga Helps Mentally Ill Improve Their Lives

    Yoga Helps Mentally Ill Improve Their Livesi
    X
    July 03, 2013 12:36 AM
    Millions of Americans take classes to learn the poses and breathing of the ancient Indian practice of yoga. In recent years, yoga organizations have been reaching out to people who may not normally have the opportunity to take yoga classes, such as the homeless, trauma survivors, and people with drug and alcohol addictions. VOA’s Deborah Block visited Green Door, a small mental health center in Washington where yoga is helping change people’s lives for the better.
    Deborah Block
    Millions of Americans take classes to learn the poses and breathing of the ancient Indian practice of yoga.  In recent years, yoga organizations have been reaching out to people who may not normally have the opportunity to take yoga classes, such as the homeless, trauma survivors, and people with drug and alcohol addictions.Green Door is a small mental health center in Washington where yoga is helping change people’s lives for the better.

    Ericpaul Clark has been taking yoga classes for several months.  He’s been in jail and a psychiatric facility after abusing drugs.  Today, he says he’s clean and looking forward to a better life.  Yoga helps keep him calm.

    “I have rather a bad temper, and I’m afraid that if I really get angry I might do something dumb that will cause me to go back to jail.  When I do the stretches and poses it relaxes my muscles and just makes me feel more comfortable," said Clark.

    The free, weekly yoga classes are offered as a part of Green Door’s program to help people who are mentally ill cope with their problems and become more independent.  Most are poor and many are homeless or in temporary housing.  Social worker Miranda White says a lot of them don’t exercise, but yoga is a good way to get them moving, even if it’s from a chair.

    “Their patience for doing any type of exercise is minimal at first, but once they’ve gotten involved in yoga, I’ve seen this love for it," said White.

    This is Clarence Marble’s first yoga class and he’s finding it challenging.

    “I had to pull both my legs up with both my hands," said Marble.

    He hopes yoga will help him lose weight and alleviate his depression.

    “If it relieves me of some stress, I’ll really enjoy that, and if I can go do some yoga to get out of my depression that would be even better," he said.

    Studies have shown the positive effect of yoga on a range of mental illnesses.  They indicate the practice helps reduce stress, ease chronic depression and lessen the symptoms of schizophrenia - a brain disorder characterized by hallucinations and delusions.  

    Earnestine Jackson, who takes medication to control schizophrenia, says yoga benefits her in several ways.

    “It helps you get your self-esteem together, and most of all, it helps me with peace of mind," said Jackson.

    Miranda White says that’s something these people really need.

    “It’s a moment for their bodies to just relax because if you’re homeless, or if you’re struggling with symptoms of hearing voices or depression, it’s hard to find a calm place within yourself and your environment, and with a lot of them you can see it in their faces," she said.

    Instructor Megan Davis, a specialist in yoga therapy, says learning the proper way to breathe while doing yoga helps her students feel more in control.
     
    “Especially the breathing techniques, [they] really invite people not to be reactive, so it comes up when you’re having a craving for drugs, for a drink," said Davis.

    That’s beneficial for Charles Bradley, who had a mental breakdown due to drug abuse, and has been clean for a year.  

    “You don’t always have to go running back to substances to make you feel good.  You can make yourself feel good just by doing something as simple as breathing," said Bradley.

    Bradley started taking yoga because he was curious - but now considers it a vital part of turning his life around.

    You May Like

    Vietnam Mulls Tough Measures for ‘Misbehaving’ Chinese Tourists

    Move comes after footage surfaced online of Chinese travelers harassing a banana hawker in Da Nang

    The Complicated Math of AIDS

    A lot, and then some: the huge - and complicated - cost of the AIDS epidemic

    Pakistan Social Media Star's Honor Killing Fuels Debate

    Qandeel Baloch's murder puts spotlight on deadly tradition and other mistreatment of women

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Borderi
    X
    July 22, 2016 12:30 AM
    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.
    Video

    Video Number of Syrian Refugees Arriving in US Jumps

    The United States is committed to resettling 85,000 refugees from around the world by October. Of that number, 10,000 will come from Syria and already some 4,000 Syrian refugees have arrived in the United States, many of them settling in the state of Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from Chicago, their arrival is not the end of a difficult journey to find peace and stability.
    Video

    Video Rio’s Trams Await Olympic Tourists

    Over the past century, many cities around the world replaced electric trams, prone to breakdowns and backups, with faster and more spacious buses. But for some reason restored antique trams are a huge tourist attraction. So it’s no wonder the authorities in Rio de Janeiro are busy restoring their city’s old tram line ahead of the Summer Olympic Games. VOA’ George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora