Using Yoga’s Eightfold Path

Tree of Yoga - Using Yoga's Eightfold PathThe Yoga & Creative Arts Curriculum uses yoga’s Eightfold Path as a foundation for learning.

We believe the eight-limbed path of yoga offers a unique way to bring girls to a deeper understanding of themselves and others.  The resulting self-awareness combined with concrete tools and life skills gives girls what they need to change self-destructive behaviors into productive, healthy life-style choices.

We believe each girl can achieve her full potential.   Our curriculum is strength-based, meaning we acknowledge each young woman’s past but focus on her present abilities.

We believe girls thrive with a gender-responsive approach. Our curriculum is trauma-informed, meaning we acknowledge that girls respond differently to trauma than boys and require a specialized approach to relationship building. We address gender-specific issues such as menstrual cycle discomforts, body-image distortions, eating disorders and self-mutilation in the manner they typically present for teen girls.

The Eightfold Path consists of eight different aspects of a yoga practice:

1. Five guidelines for living–values or personal attitudes to cultivate. These are called Yamas, and are translated as non-violence, non-stealing, non-greed, sexual restraint, and non-lying.

2. Five productive and healthy habits to develop. These are called Niyamas. Sometimes referred to as “yoga dos,” these are cleanliness and good hygiene, contentment, self-discipline, accountability, self-study, and spirituality. These guidelines for behavior are universal and can be found in almost any religious practice or social philosophy.

3. Many physical exercises for a healthy body. These are called Asanas. Asanas develop strength, flexibility, endurance and coordination. Asanas can lead to better functioning of each system of the body.

4. Breathing exercises to calm and energize the body. This is called Pranayama.

5. A practice of calming and stilling the senses and to prevent overstimulation called Pratyahara.  Pranayama and Pratyahara can help an adolescent with anger management and impulse control. In a volatile situation, she learns to create distance and “take big deep breaths” while considering consequences. This facilitates better in-the-moment decision-making instead of reaction without thinking.

6. Concentration techniques to increase focus and grounding called Dharana. Many girls from the program report a better ability to study schoolwork after yoga practice.

7. Meditation techniques called Dhyana. Meditation offers a young woman a technique for self-reflection. She begins to develop an awareness of her thought patterns and subsequent behaviors, the first step in learning to change them for a more productive lifestyle.

8. Developing Spirituality or a sense of connectedness to all human beings and nature called Samadhi. Samadhi encourages pro-social behavior in the largest sense. Participants can be guided out of the self-indulgence often characteristic of adolescence and into accountability and service to the greater community.

The Art of Yoga Project

The Art of Yoga Project is designed to help at-risk girls by focusing on early intervention and preparing girls for a positive future. We are leaders in revolutionizing the rehabilitation of girls by offering trauma-informed, strength-based, gender-responsive services.

Our mission is to lead teenage girls in the California juvenile justice system toward accountability to self, others and community by providing practical tools to affect behavioral change.