USC program helps Compton, other inner-city kids overcome chronic stress by teaching yoga

A USC program is helping kids from Compton and other inner-city areas overcome chronic stress by helping them practice them yoga.

In 2012, the USC Dornsife Joint Education Project launched the Little Yoginis program to help inner-city youth de-stress by practicing yoga. The class takes place in Jefferson Park, about two blocks from USC.

"If I benefited so much from yoga why not the children? Yoga can obviously benefit anybody, but for these kids in particular, there're juggling a lot. They're dealing with a lot. Some are new to the country. Some might be separated from their families who are not in the country for various reasons. The neighborhood itself may not be the safest neighborhood." said Tina Koneazny of the USC Joint Educational project.

A 2014 study by the CDC found that nearly one-third of inner-city children in the U.S. suffer from post traumatic stress disorder at a higher level than soldiers. The study also noted that while soldiers get to leave the war zone after their tour of duty, inner-city children do not.

The Little Yoginis program also focuses on books, primarily on mindfulness, perseverance and kindness.

"So really trying to integrate the literature and having the kids do this practice that's so beneficial for calming the mind of the spirit," Koneazny said.

The children are given the opportunity to focus on one yoga pose at a time - learning to stay focused on just one thing.

"That helps them when they have to focus on this one math problem or this one word that they're really having a hard time with, and there are distractions in the classroom. Or if they're being bullied at I hit back or can I just take a breath? So there are so many different ways, both in terms of learning and in terms of just personal self-awareness and control, that it really helps in all those areas," Koneazny explained.
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