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

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid