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Light a Path (LAP), formerly an independent organization, has become an official program of the YWCA of Asheville’s Health and Wellness Department. The program’s focus is perfectly aligned with YWCA’s mission of eliminating racism and empowering women by increasing representation and serving underserved spaces. As you read in Diana’s letter, through its all-volunteer team’s work in correctional facilities and substance abuse centers, LAP will become a key element of the YWCA’s racial justice and trauma-informed approach to health and wellness.

Light A Path uses yoga and meditation techniques to provide participants with skills to self-regulate and manage anger, stress, and anxiety. Ability to self-regulate emotional response has proven implications for an individual’s ability to lead a productive life. For those living with addiction, or who have been convicted of a crime, the ability to self-regulate may not have been learned.  

Reducing recidivism rates and substance use requires that individuals find new coping mechanisms. Through classes in trauma-informed methodology, taught by certified yoga and fitness instructors, participants learn strategies to build emotional resilience and experience positive changes in physical health.

LAP Volunteer Michal Tolk said of the program:

“Volunteering through LAP has been a tremendous source of grounding and inspiration in my life over the past couple of years. I first heard about LAP through some of my teachers…  and after seeing these leaders in the community walking the walk by providing selfless service of their time and energy back to communities in need I felt called to do the same. 

As a yoga instructor, service is a key part of my guiding values, and having the opportunity to share my practice with those who need it feels deeply nourishing, both for myself as an instructor as well as for attendants in class. It’s so amazing to hear from clients at the recovery center that they’ve been able to use the breathing or grounding techniques in their daily lives to help them on their journey towards healing and health. 

I’m so grateful that LAP is doing the work to help spread that information and make yoga a safer place for everybody. They’ve had some amazing impact in the past, and I’m excited to see the program continue to grow and evolve!”