A local yoga studio is using the physical and mental exercise to teach discipline, instill peace and build self-esteem in at-risk youth.
Last week, launched a four-week pilot program in partnership with community group to facilitate youth development in local teens ages 11 to 18.
“It is an amazing and yet simple concept, that through yoga we are able to provide the youth in our area who struggle every day with domestic abuse, drug abuse, violence, dysfunctional family situations, and learned negative response mechanisms, to be able to find a place within themselves that is filled with peace, introspection, relaxation, self respect, respect for others, and bliss,” said Rebecca Gatanis, owner of Purple Monkey Yoga Studio.
The program will introduce to youth various yoga poses, techniques, meditation and transformational exercises in free, 90-minute classes held Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Organizers say the yoga practices help provide cultural grounding, leadership training and lessons to help prevent high-risk activities.
The program serves a closes group of at-risk youth who have been referred to Purple Monkey by FAJ, which runs youth development and alcohol and drug prevention programs at school sites throughout Union City. FAJ also provides leadership training and community organizing programs.
“To be able to teach our youth, that are surrounding by unbearable or high stress scenarios, that this bliss is within us at any moment we need is the most powerful tool we can ever give anyone,” Gatanis said.
Purple Monkey’s high-risk youth program is part of the independent, locally owned and family-run studio’s nonprofit organization, Sacred Feet. Still in development, Sacred Feet aims to bring yoga to people from all walks of life.
The youth program will be a part of similar ongoing classes and support groups that will be offered to community members at no cost, according to the yoga studio. Future classes such as Prenatal Teens Yoga and Yoga for Cancer Warriors are in the works.
For more information about Purple Monkey Studios and its programs, visit their website at www.purplemonkeyyoga.com.