Residents of Turning Point House (TPH) are enjoying the physical and mental wellness benefits of yoga thanks to Gabriella Pelosi, senior counselor at the program. Yoga’s benefits for recovery are quite numerous.
Based in rural Eden, NY, TPH was founded in 1990 and offers intensive residential rehabilitation to men who were not able to achieve long-term recovery from substance use in previous attempts.
Gabriella introduced yoga instructor Ashley Feneziani to the men at TPH. Ashley is a volunteer with Yogis in Service, a not-for-profit that seeks to bring yoga and mindfulness exercises to underserved communities. Ashley proved to be a perfect match for TPH residents open to enhancing their therapy program.
Ashley initially conducted a six-week summer project. Groups of eight participated in the weekly sessions. At the project’s conclusion, Ashley told Gabriella that she wanted to continue volunteering to teach yoga at TPH, where she describes the men as “very appreciative” of her efforts.
“Yoga is a proven intervention that has been successful for men who have experienced trauma or have been incarcerated,” Gabriella said. “It’s a trauma-informed practice that helps them get in touch with their minds and bodies. It helps change their inner dialogues in an empowering way.”
While it is unique to have all-male sessions, Ashley believes that the physical challenge of yoga exercises appeals to men. “If I can show them that they can get through difficult poses, maybe that will generate more positive self-talk. Maybe they’ll be able to remind themselves that they can get through something simple, like waiting in line at the grocery store. I always tell them: ‘What you will do on the yoga mat, you will do off the mat.’”
In turn, TPH residents had very positive things to say about the program. After their session, residents explained how adding yoga to their treatment program benefits them. “It’s a stress-reliever and boosts my body,” said one participant. Another noted that “it helps to clear your mind.”
Ashley’s and Gabriella’s hopes for creating positive internal dialogues are already bearing fruit. One resident remarked that “yoga helps you feel good about yourself.” Similarly, another participant said that the sessions “make me feel like I’ve accomplished something.”