Young women across the Bay Area are learning yoga thanks to a non-profit promoting self-respect, self-control and healing.
Since 2005, the Art of Yoga project has sent trained yoga teachers to high schools, juvenile detention centers and programs for exploited girls.
High school classes focus on preventing risky behaviors, while yoga for incarcerated and exploited girls work on healing and rehabilitation.
Girls are the fastest growing segment of the juvenile justice population, according to the organization.
“That fight or flight, that overreaction, or the freeze, that underreaCtion, are the behaviors that get them into trouble in the first place,” said Mary Lynn Fitton, Founder of Art of Yoga Project. Fitton is also a neuroscience nurse and family nurse practitioner who specializes in adolescent health.
“The yoga practice and the meditation and the breathing techniques gives them sensory integration, self-regulation, so they can move out of their survival brains up into their learning brains, their higher brains, because when you’re in your lower brain you can’t learn," Fitton said. "So you can see how this is essential, especially in a school environment, but in any environment we’re bringing girls to their best selves."
The Art of Yoga project has worked with over 5,000 girls for 11 years. Classes are held in San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties.