Recovery Yoga“Recovery Yoga was offered to our agency back in October , 2013 and it continues to be a very popular activity and experience; not just for the residents but also any staff person that might be present at Yoga time.  Our instructor has worked magic with our residents.  They initially come to class wound up, loud, not totally appropriate and within the first few minutes, she had everyone calm, grounded and often in precarious  positions on a mat.  At first we considered the class to be successful if all the girls just stayed in the room throughout the class.  Many of our residents initially had fears about their body image, body size, and ability to do Recovery Yoga.  Our instructor took the time to validate and explain to our residents  that Recovery Yoga is for everyone, no matter their shape, size, or experience level.  Now to see them, ending the class lying on the mat or sitting in a calm pose, is truly positive experience.  Recovery Yoga has enhanced our therapeutic modality with an intervention that aids in creating an emotionally safe and calm environment which in turn assists us in reducing stress and anxiety among our household.  We would highly recommend this to others.”

Cherrie Hiles
Program Director Noank Group Homes and Support Services, Inc.
Amy Billings, LCSW Noank Group Homes and Support Services, Inc.

Giving Youth Roots and Wings

“I’ve always wanted to become one with yoga, knowing how centering and spiritual it is. Thankful I am that I had the opportunity to make the connection. I have always known the importance of spiritual balance in holistic care of one’s self. Also knowing without such recovery is not possible for me. Thank you again for being so thoughtful, helping to raise my spirits, and reminding me I’m worth it.”


Thank you for your generosity for the yoga classes at York. The yoga classes help us transcend this bleak time to a time of change.”


I would very much like to thank you for all your help you did for us women. You are God’s child. Yoga is a very good medicine. Good for the mind and soul. Thank you for your support. I really mean that. God bless you. Thank you.”

“I greatly appreciate the support that is given to us by caring individuals like yourself. Yoga helps us to keep the mind as well as the body clear to either prepare us for or help us continue the path of right living.”


“Thank you for your part in bringing the peace of yoga to the women at York. It is the random kindness of people like yourself that bring meaning to this existence.”


“I would like to thank you very much for bringing our yoga program. I really look forward to class every Monday as I know everyone does.”


Thank you for the yoga classes. We greatly appreciate your kind thoughts and your time. Thank you for all your time and experience with showing us all about yoga and we totally enjoy all the music you bring in for us.”


Thank you for taking the time for us. Yoga takes our minds off all the bad things that are happening in our lives at this time.”


Hey look you God is Watching you. Stay strong. You are Bless and I thank you very much for you time and the yoga.”


Thank you for caring and the yoga.”


I would like to thank you and the staff to afford me the opportunity to take Yoga classes for Veterans and their families.”

testimonialI have been in counseling since 1995 through the VA. Without a doubt the VA has been a life saver for me. Without the VA I would be dead today, no exaggeration. As I move along my path of recovery I continue to look for other way to help me get through the tangled web in my mind. I have been on Outward Bound, a three week class in White River VA and of course the Vet Center. I am always looking for ways to calm myself, be at peace with my inner and outer life. As one counselor told me a long time ago, there is no light at the end of the tunnel. Your PTSD and depression will be with you forever. What you have to do is never stop going forward. Some days, some months will be really good and then at other times these ugly heads of thoughts, dreams, flashback will happen and there are no Meds you can take to stop or avoid it from happening. Only you Joe can help yourself.Others can support but you are the key.

Recently I saw an ad about a Yoga class being given for Veterans with PTSD. I called and signed up. What do I know about Yoga? I thought that it was a group of people who sat around drinking carrot juice and contemplating God knows what. However my path of life is always trying to find a way to be calm and relaxed, without meds. I don’t think I would drink the carrot juice but maybe yoga has ways to help me feel better and be calmer. So what the heck I called and enrolled in the class. The place was in Stonington, CT its name is Mystic Yoga Shala.

When I got there I was greeted and given a mat. We went into the next room put our mats on the floor and sit on them. The instructor introduced herself and explained a little about the program. We started to do What I thought were some warm up exercises. The instructor told us when to breathe in and out. So far so good. However the “Warm Up Exercise” kept going and going and going. By the way keep breathing. For about 50 minutes, we did not stop. I think she worked us so every joint and muscle was used. Then at the end we laid on the floor arms out tried to relax, try to make our minds go to a safe place. The End
But no it was not the end We could come back next week. Since we were not made to drink carrot juice only water and lots of it I said I would return. The following week everything was very much the same except I was sweating like a pig. There was not a dry spot on my shirt. Again we cooled down laying flat on our backs arms out. Thinking about that safe place where we cannot be hurt or hurt anyone else.

It was the sixth week, I was not in good space and did not want to go. Was having a bad day with the fam.. My own thoughts, I just could not calm myself down. Some of those ugly heads were also popping up. I was not going to go but I had to do something so I went outside by myself. I sat there for a while with my mind being blank. After awhile I started to think about that safe place, I started to breath and I calmed myself down enough where I could drive to the class.

The next major thing for me happened, happened during the last of 8 classes. As I stated before at the end of class we would lay on our backs and go or try to go to our safe place. I am by experience and nature a hyper-vigilant person. I see movement I have to look. I hear sounds I have to know where they are coming from. So I am lying there and I hear foot steps. THIS MAY NOT BE A BIG DEAL FOR MOST but for me , and I had to fight it, not to open my eyes to see. I trusted the other in the room that I would be safe.

Where is this going for me, I would like to continue with Yoga. I see a value and a place where I think I can trust people. But in the short time I could feel that my instructor cared that I was getting it. What ever it is.


I would like to thank you and the staff of recovery yoga.

Joseph S. Dolock

Combat Infantry Platoon Leader
Served in Vietnam 68-69
1/46 196 & 198 LIB, Americal Division, Chu Lai

I just want to  thank Recovery Yoga  for introducing
me to Yoga. I am a Vietnam Veteran who attends the Norwich Vet Center and
have been attending the sessions on Tuesday mornings offered by  Recovery Yoga.
I have had trouble relaxing  for many years and I have found a way
to bring calm into my life through Yoga. It has helped me to relax and
also increased my flexibility. I haven’t felt this good in a long time.”

Thank you again,
Dave Thibodeau

The population of women at Amethyst House are in recovery from substance use and most are also recovering from some form of trauma. Many of the women are also recovering from a mental health condition such as Major Depression or an Anxiety Disorder, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It is difficult for women to learn to cope with symptoms of depression and anxiety, flashbacks and painful memories without numbing their feelings with the substances. In early recovery, during the period of post-acute withdrawal, women are very stress sensitive and are learning to tolerate distress, to express in words what they need and want, and to talk about their feelings.

Sometimes women struggle to find the words to express their pain and often are uncomfortable in their own bodies. They may feel overwhelmed by intense emotions or they may feel emotionally numb. Recovery Yoga and the Body Scan Meditation complement the clinical services provided as they allow women to “be” in their bodies in a way that is comforting and calming and teaches a skill that empowers women.

Through Recovery Yoga the Itsy Bitsy Yoga that the parenting women in Amethyst House learn creates a healthy way for mothers to bond with their children. Healthy attachment is a primary component for the prevention of substance use in the next generation. Doing Yoga together demonstrates to the mother in recovery that she can care for and comfort her child in a pleasant and fun interaction; seeing her child’s delighted response begins to heal that pain in her heart and to give her hope that what she is doing today in recovery is making a positive difference in the life of her child.

When women practice new coping skills over and over, new pathways are created in their brain which allows the brain to heal from addiction and trauma. Practicing Yoga rewards women: they feel better. Positive reinforcement is very important in early recovery when women often do not feel well. Yoga cares for women, teaches women that they are important and deserve to feel better.

Recovery Yoga has held classes here since 2011. The teacher from Recovery Yoga creates an environment in which women feel emotionally and physically safe; the teacher is compassionate, understanding, and patient with them. Her skill as a Yoga therapist is essential to the positive impact of this class.

I believe that Yoga is one of the best ways for women to heal.; I am very grateful that Recovery Yoga makes it possible for Yoga to be provided to the women served in Crossroads, to complement the other clinical services they receive.”

Patricia Haggerty, MA, LADC
Clinical Coordinator
Women’s Services
Crossroads, Inc.

“A Bilingual, Multicultural Program for Substance Rehabilitation Serving the Total Person since 1971”

Safe Futures CT is a non-profit agency that provides services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Recovery Yoga has been providing weekly yoga to victims residing in our transitional living program since 2012. The residents in our transitional living program all came to us from emergency shelters and begin their long-term healing process here, for a period of up to two years.

Most of the clients who attend yoga have several small children. The infants residing in our program do sometimes participate in yoga with their moms. The moms in our programs are all single parents who are also working or attending classes. They usually have quite a bit on their plates and the yoga appears to be very helpful in managing their stress levels. Our residents also have an extensive trauma history which can be linked to PTSD, anxiety and depression. They look forward to the yoga each week and have nothing but positive feedback after.”

Shannon Prieto
Family Services
Safe Futures CT

A maximum security prison with violent, convicted felons might be the last setting one would expect to find a yoga class. Yet, following twenty-one years as a correctional professional it is perhaps the one place that I personally witnessed the profound benefits of this ancient practice.

The United States has the highest per capita incarceration rate in the world. Connecticut’s total prison census as of January 2014 was 16,594 and of that 1,109 were women. Current statistics estimate that at least seventy-five percent of incarcerated individuals have known substance abuse issues and a similar percentage having experienced a history of trauma. Many of these issues present in the early formative years and create the sociological underpinnings that lead to incarceration and an often unrelenting cycle of recidivism. As a correctional administrator responsible for implementing meaningful programs for the women incarcerated at the York Correctional Institution in Connecticut it was often a challenge to find something that “worked.” What would reach in such a way to create transformation, and a sense of self worth?  My question was answered in part through Elizabeth Johnstone’s Recovery Yoga program.

Elizabeth’s students at the prison experienced her compassionate, professional, and specifically tailored classes that reached in with a paradigm that had previously been unexplored. Through the grace and traditions of yoga the women were able to articulate and share with me their new found personal discoveries of kinesthetic  and subtle awareness,  social responsibility, inner tranquility, and a journey of restoration leading toward a path of liberation from structural and, more importantly, personal prisons.

Elizabeth Johnstone knows that when individuals heal, society heals as well. Through Recovery Yoga we all benefit and discover the true meaning of freedom.

Karen M. Jones
Retired Deputy Warden, Connecticut Department of Correction (1990-2011)

The Recovery Yoga service that was provided to our Veterans at our facility was found to be very beneficial for them both physically and mentally. The instructor was very professional and engaged very easily with our Veteran population.  It was a tremendous joy to have the Recovery Yoga service offered to our American Heroes. It is greatly appreciated.

Shari Dorman, MS, LPC
Team Leader
Norwich Vet Center
Readjustment Counseling Services


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