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“In Yoga, we learn that every day, moment, and breath is an opportunity to begin again. Teaching at Operation New Hope lets me share that message and remind each participant that the journey isn’t over,” shared Sammie Torres. Sammie is one of the Yoga 4 Change instructors who leads weekly yoga classes for Ready4Work participants at Operation New Hope.
Yoga 4 Change and Operation New Hope have been partnering for over a year to provide on-site yoga classes for Ready4Work participants as part of the wrap-around services that help clients succeed at reentry. Yoga is another tool that people can use for coping and mindfulness, both of which are important during times of change.
“Yoga found me when I needed it most,” Sammie added. “As I was transitioning from military service, I was in need of grounding. After spending over half my life in an organization that was always on the go with strict regulations; I needed to learn to let go, relax, listen to my breath, and learn to sit in silence. That is what yoga is to me; an opportunity to connect to what really matters most to me and listen to who I truly am inside.”
Many of our clients can relate to Sammie’s transition from a strictly regulated life, as they themselves are navigating a new way of living after incarceration or addiction. “Practicing yoga in prison was my escape. It was the only way for me to feel like I wasn’t behind walls,” one Ready4Work participant recently shared during a yoga class at Operation New Hope. “If I didn’t have yoga in prison, I don’t know what I would have done. I probably wouldn’t have made it.”
Corrine Dean, one of the other Yoga 4 Changes teachers who leads classes at Operation New Hope, stated “I love how yoga connects my mind body and soul. It brings me back to a place of feeling grounded and present, on and off the mat. I have much gratitude for the practice as it has been a vital part of my own recovery and healing process.”
Yoga 4 Change is built on an established, purpose-driven curriculum that pairs yoga movements with thematic teachings tailored to the physical and emotional needs of each population they serve. Their professionally-trained instructors go directly to the source, introducing yoga and mindfulness as powerful tools for overcoming trauma. Yoga 4 Change achieves lasting, demonstrative change for veterans, individuals experiencing incarceration, youth, and those living with mental health conditions through an evidence-based, purpose-driven yoga curriculum.
They teach trauma-informed yoga programming intertwining themes, such as forgiveness, gratitude, and vulnerability, with movement. Individuals are given tools to hone in on subtle changes in breathing, heart rate, and feelings within their body. Recognizing small changes can help an individual correct imbalances and self-regulate emotions. Program benefits include:
A Ready4Work client who attended the Yoga 4 Change class for the last two weeks said that prior to the class his blood pressure was 150/95 with a BP of 98; but after class it was 117/75 with a BP of 68 – proof that yoga helped him feel more calm!
“There is a special uplifted energy and sense of gratitude received and felt from both the students practicing and the supportive staff at Operation New Hope,” added Corinne.
We are so thankful for great community partners, like Yoga 4 Change, for supporting our clients holistically. We know that changes happen through innovative community solutions. We truly do live in a city that cares immensely for its people.