Rocsana Enriquez started thinking about yoga again when she was pregnant. She was 19 and in an abusive relationship.
When she was younger, Rocsana, whom the author had interviewed as part of her research, had taken part in a yoga program in a San Francisco Bay Area juvenile hall run by The Art of Yoga Project. She began using the skills she learned on the mat to slow herself down when she got angry and to pause before reacting. She remembered the breathing techniques and poses that made her feel better about herself. Now, seeking the same quietness she had been able to achieve in class back in
Childhood trauma has a devastating impact on both the mind and the body of children who experience it. But that mind-body connection also offers a path toward healing. A growing body of research demonstrates the effectiveness of addressing the mental and physical impact of trauma through yoga and other somatic, or body-based, programs.
The Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality, of which the author is executive director, released a first-of-its-kind report in April that synthesizes existing research, interviews with experts across the country and two original pilot studies focused on at-risk girls. Their conclusion: yoga and mindfulness programs can equip girls like Rocsana – especially those in the juvenile justice system – with tools that help them thrive.
Research shows that Rocsana is not alone in experiencing abuse as a young person. Children in the United States experience trauma at breathtakingly high rates. In the seminal Adverse Childhood Experiences survey of more than 17,000 participants, 21 percent reported experiencing sexual abuse as children; 26 percent reported physical abuse
Studies reveal that yoga programs designed specifically for victims of trauma – programs that include regulated breathing, controlled movement
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