CAMPBELL RIVER, B.C. – The final phase of a Department of Justice-funded study is coming to Campbell River.

The John Howard Society of North Island will be the final test site for a pilot project by Yoga Outreach Society, a BC-based charity that provides “trauma informed” yoga programming to adults and youth.

According to executive director Delanie Dyck, the organization works across the province in prisons, mental health facilities, addictions recovery facilities, as well as working with women and children fleeing violence.

The study funded by the Department of Justice (DOJ) aims to find out if weekly yoga classes can help youth in mandated recovery programs maintain health and resist relapse.

According to a release from Yoga Outreach, research shows that yoga is more helpful to adults experiencing PTSD than talk therapies. Dyck also said there is little research on how trauma informed yoga helps teens in youth justice programs or teens who are homeless, deal with substance use and mental health issues.

The study is the first of its kind in North America to look for evidence that teaching mindfulness skills to youth from traumatic backgrounds can help avoid substance use relapse or conflict with the law.

“Trauma-informed yoga teaching is about choice and creating a self-directed experience for the students,” Dyck said. She added that trauma-informed yoga is about creating a safe space, both physical as well as mental.

Trauma-informed yoga has the instructor staying at the front of the room to model forms, and letting students choose if it’s a form they will imitate or not. Other hallmarks of trauma-informed yoga include having classes in rooms where windows don’t put students on display, as well as having plenty of space.

“Our evaluation is looking at and hopefully proving that there’s promise in the use of trauma-informed yoga for working with kids who are in addictions recovery and who are justice involved.”

If the results are positive, the DOJ may include mindfulness-based programming in youth justice programs and youth custody facilities.

Dyck said that they need volunteer instructors to participate in trauma-informed yoga training from March 1st to 3rd, and then teach weekly two-hour classes for six months or longer.

Dyck said they hope to finish the study in late August or mid-September.

For more information on how to get involved, visit Yoga Outreach Society’s website or call 604-385-3891.