2018 proves to be an exciting year for Shepherds Hill Academy (SHA). The Therapeutic Boarding School Hybrid positioned in the beautiful foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains is adding yet another therapeutic element to their budding program: Girl’s Therapeutic Yoga.
Taking on the role of instructor for the practice of Girl’s Therapeutic Yoga is Mrs. Victoria Nolen. Nolen not only holds the credential of a Licensed Associate Professional Counselor (LAPC), but is also a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT), Registered Trauma-Sensitive Yoga Faith Instructor (R-TSYF), and Yoga Faith Ambassador (YF-A).
“We start by ‘centering in’ – by opening with prayer, a song of worship or a devotion. I will also invite the girls to bring something encouraging with them to share if they would like. As we move into the practice we will meditate on Scripture while listening to uplifting songs. All of our yoga is taught through a Christian lens.”
With experience in counseling and therapy, Nolen expresses the essential element of mindfulness in the yoga practice. “Yoga is essentially mindful movement. We practice a lot of mindfulness during our sessions: noticing what is going on with our senses, breathing, etc. This is incorporated so that the students can become more aware of themselves and learn to better self-regulate.”
The Yoga Therapy class at Shepherds Hill Academy will not only provide a positive experience for students, but has many physical and emotional benefits as well. Yoga has been proven to reduce stress and inflammation in the body, lower risk of diseases (such as heart disease, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, etc.), increase flexibility, strength and balance, and help restore balance in the nervous system.
The emotional benefits of yoga are extremely important for the girls enrolled at Shepherds Hill Academy. The yoga program is specifically designed to aid in reducing depression and anxiety, help treat trauma symptoms and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and provide adjunctive treatment for addiction recovery.
Nolen states, “Our students are coming in with a variety of issues. Issues like anxiety, depression, addiction, low self-esteem, behavioral disorders and more. Yoga restores mindfulness in a mindless stimulation filled world. It teaches students how to respond rather than react. It creates a safe place for healing and fosters trust, boundaries, healthy interactions, support, and group cohesion.”
Shepherds Hill Academy is a 12-month 501(c)(3) nonprofit Therapeutic Boarding School serving teens between the ages of 12-17. SHA works with a variety of students with behavioral issues including but not limited to: ADHD, PTSD, anxiety, depression, suicidal ideations, addiction and a variety of behavioral disorders.