VICTORY OVER VIOLENCE: Street Addiction Institute youth practice Trauma Recovery Yoga

Victory Over Violence

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Finding balance in everyday life may be a challenge for everyone, but for youth who have experienced trauma due to violence in Syracuse, neighborhoods could face even greater obstacles.

Street Addiction Institute, Inc., (SAII) launched by Timothy Jennings-Bey, has been providing support to Syracuse youth who are at risk. Programs run year-round to ensure children and teens are constantly participating in positive activities even when school is out for the summer.

The newest program is called TRY — Trauma Recovery Yoga.

Yoga classes are held weekly and when the weather cooperates, the TRY is held in Syracuse city parks.

The TRY program and Asauna Yoga’s HEALS (Helping to Enlighten and Align with Love of Self ) series are offered as tools and solutions to help children recover from Street Addiction, a term coined by Jennings-Bey.

TRY founder Heidi Panek, owner of Asauna Yoga, leads the classes and says the results truly speak for themselves.

“Sometimes the most important part is just arriving,” Panek said. “Sometimes they’re not ready to maybe extend through limbs, but they’re extending through their mind and they’re feeling it in their hearts that this is an opportunity to feel safe, to feel that it’s important to take some time to give yourself some opportunities to just take an exhale.”

The program is becoming a powerful tool to take youth away from violence in their neighborhoods, but also to heal old wounds for teens like Marqual West.

“It gives me more of like a calm energy because I get angry fast. I need something to calm down, get to my center,” West shared. “I like it, honestly.”

West says there have been times recently where he almost got into an argument with people, but he said he was able to calm down and walk away, thanks to what he has learned through TRY.

“I believe it’s going to help me because I feel like it’s going to get me to where it’s like nothing can bother me no more,” West said. “I’m just at peace with myself.”

West is a recent graduate of PSLA at Fowler High School.

A few years ago, West was unsure if he would finish school running with a negative crowd and even doing some jail time. Those days are all behind West thanks to SAII mentors and friends of the organization like Panek.

“Marqual really enjoyed it,” said Panek about an additional session West attended at her studio. “It’s very nice to see him just brightening up and just loving the whole energy of the whole practice. He was smiling throughout the whole thing and at the end, he just felt like he had been flying.”

West says he plans to continue TRY as he prepares to start classes in the fall at Onondaga Community College.

“I guide them through the physical part of it all, but when they come to me and say, some positive results of their practice, that they were feeling in enlightening ways, then I feel like I’m helping out in some way,” Panek shared.

The overall goal of TRY is to help youth achieve and maintain balance and harmony. Panek wants all participants to feel open to spreading what they have learned in their communities and at home.

“Listen to the wind of your breath. Let it soothe your mind, relax your muscles, and calm your nerves,” Panek said. “Let simplicity happen and you have found your yoga.”

To learn more about the Street Addiction Institute’s programs, click here.

For more local stories and posts by Farah Jadran, follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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