“Thank you for coming. I feel better in my body and my head.”

-Unit 6, 2014

“I feel like Hercules!”

-Unit 5, 2012

“See you next week.”

-Unit 1, 2009

 

Our program lands in the living quarters of the youth in the juvenile hall, where our teachers lead the youth through one-hour yoga classes. We begin class by introducing our teaching team and welcoming new students after we circle our yoga mats. We generally start seated, but always with breath. Breathing exercises reduce stress and begin the centering process, helping the youth to focus. We move into warm up poses and exercises to warm up the shoulders and hips, followed by abdominal work, before combining poses into sequences of movement. All poses need to be accessible to all youth, ensuring a successful and accessible experience for all, so we provide many options for up-leveling and down-leveling poses based on a student’s experience level and physical/emotional well-being that day. We end in resting, offering time for reflection and integration.

Lemonade uses a trauma-informed approach to yoga classes; our programming empowers youth to grow from and out of a place of pain and trauma to work towards mastery of self-control, awareness, and regulation. Youth served by Lemonade come from communities where they have learned to be diligent about their safety, due to personal experience or knowing someone who has experienced great trauma. Poses are chosen that allow youth to feel safe while maintaining feelings of strength in order to maintain interest in the program. Lemonade draws upon industry research, personal experience, feedback from staff, and the Forrest Yoga style. Forrest Yoga, developed by Ana Forrest, herself a trauma survivor, as a style provides a safe container to explore both physical and emotional challenges through specific sequencing and pose choices. By opening their bodies in asana practice, they also begin to open their minds to new possibilities. Time is spent in twists, learning breathing exercises, inversions and arm balances, all of which fire up the body’s core, and create a positive sense of self.

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