A new report shows that girls traumatised by a history of abuse and trauma can be helped to improve their own lives through yoga.
Rocsana Enriquez, 26 years old, had grown up with violence and sexual abuse. She ran away from home frequently and became involved in street gangs as a teenager.
While she was incarcerated in Central California she began to learn yoga through the Art of Yoga Project, and it allowed her to release her anger and boosted her confidence. “It made me feel very strong,” she said.
The report by the Center on Poverty and Inequality shows that yoga programs offered to young girls in particular can be a cost-effective way of helping an extremely vulnerable group heal and improve their lives.
Rebecca Epstein, director of the Center, and co-author of the report said, “Literally focusing on feeling where your body is and what it’s doing can lead to healing the mind as well.”
Enriquez, who lives in Daly City, California, said that the yoga she learnt while in juvenile detention also helped her escape an abusive relationship. Her boyfriend, with whom she has two children, was addicted to drugs, physically abused her and even held her captive in their apartment. She ran away and returned multiple times. Eventually the tools she had learnt through the yoga program gave her the strength she needed to end the toxic relationship, “They made me think in a different way – that I am somebody,” she said. “I decided, ‘you deserve better,'” she said. “I put the father of my kids in jail.”
Enriquez is now studying justice at San Jose State University with a view to becoming a lawyer. She also teaches part-time with the Art of Yoga Project, the organization first introduced her to yoga as a teenager.
“I am very excited for my future and everything I am doing,” she said. “If it wasn’t for yoga, I don’t know if I would be here.”
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