Mindfulness Programs to be Expanded through PTI and St. Louis Arc CONNECT Partnership
PTI began to offer Yoga and Relaxation classes in November of 2015 in order to offer new techniques for participants to manage social anxiety. The goals are to help participants release tension in both their bodies and minds, increase self-confidence, self-awareness, self-control, improve physical strength and give participants the tools to transfer methods from the classes to their daily lives.
PTI staff and yoga instructor, Beth Gill, has instructed these classes for the past eight months. She says, “All of the participants have come in with an open mind and leave class with better self-worth, self-respect and a kind attitude towards themselves and others…Participants’ strength, posture and memory recall have improved after just a few sessions.”
Brian, a PTI participant, has taken Yoga and Tai Chi classes in the community on his own, but finds that “Beth is a really empathetic and thoughtful yoga teacher. She meets the participants exactly where they are… She is able to teach multiple skill levels in the same class, gives positive feedback and expresses corrections in a non-judgmental way.”
Tatum, a PTI participant who takes the Yoga classes regularly says, “My goal in taking the classes was to reduce my anxiety.” Not only have the classes given her tools to work on this goal, Tatum has experienced many other benefits as well. “I’m a lot calmer and I’ve gained confidence. [The Yoga positions] help me focus on something besides myself. I’m also standing up straighter and my balance has improved.” Further, she reports using some of the breathing and meditation techniques at home or out in the community when she experiences stressful situations.
Beth observes the participants using the relaxation techniques from class at PTI events in the community. “I see moments of frustration arise in our participants that have been coming to yoga and then I watch them take a deep breath and pull through in a kind and positive way.” Also, Beth says, the participants who have taken the relaxation classes “treat each other with respect and have developed some friendships that might otherwise have never blossomed.”
Starting in late August, PTI is partnering with St. Louis Arc’s CONNECT Group to offer “Yoga for Life: Stretching Towards Independence.” The five-week yoga workshop will “foster confidence and skills for independent living for adults facing social challenges.” The class will include one hour of yoga designed for adults with autism, ADHD, anxiety and depression with 30 minutes of social time at PTI’s Inspiration Point space. The partnership will enhance St. Louis Arc members’ opportunities while exposing each person to a new community resource. PTI members will benefit from exposure to new people and practice under a second instructor.