How Yoga is Serving Low-Income People Living with Mental Illnesses and Addiction

In 2008 Jenna Ritter founded DHARA, a non-profit organization for low-income adults living with various emotional and mental health issues. The focus of her teaching is supporting students to integrate effective and appropriate self-healing techniques adapted from ancient yoga lifestyle systems into their daily lives.

Six Weeks to Wellness is a program developed in collaboration with NAMI-NYC Metro in response to the alarming findings that people diagnosed with a mental illness die 25 years earlier than those who are not. This successful workshop series accesses foundational elements essential to building a self-healing personal wellness practice and offers an effective, practical, easy to use tool-kit for physical and mental wellness. Over a committed six-week period, participants learn qi gong and ba duan jin (Chinese yoga) to provide grounding, strength and balance as well as breathing exercises to bring relaxation and rejuvenation. Discussions around attitude, nutrition and support in making healthier choices are also integrated into this program. A Take Home Practice Manual and a Coherence Breath CD are gifted with the intention to support students’ integrating the teachings into life outside of class time.


Population of focus: Low-income adults in New York City living with various emotional and mental health issues

Link to resource:

Organization: DHARA

Date: 2008