Healthy Neighborhoods Challenge! Champlain Valley Family Yoga: Ancient Practice, New Hope for Addiction Recovery

ioby’s Healthy Neighborhoods Challenge is launching loud and proud this week. We’re super excited to be partnering with the New York State Health Foundation (NYSHF) to support citizen leaders in nine neighborhoods and cities across New York as they take an active role in creating a culture of health where they live. Extra excitingly, the first $200 of each gift supporters like you make to their campaigns will be matched dollar-for-dollar by NYSHF through September 30!

Learn more and browse all the awesome Healthy Neighborhoods Challenge campaigns, like Krishna who is creating a haven for moms in Brownsville, Brooklyn.


Champlain Valley Family Center

“Everyone knows someone who’s affected by substance use addiction, no matter who or where you are,” says Ginny Brady, Board President of the Champlain Valley Family Center (CVFC) in Plattsburgh, New York. “It’s everyone’s problem; everyone’s issue.”

For almost 35 years, CVFC has provided treatment and prevention programs for people struggling with substance use addiction, and their families. They offer both education- and community-based programming, and are now adding a third dimension through their Healthy Neighborhoods Challenge project: Champlain Valley Family Yoga.

Champlain Valley Family Center ioby

“We’d like to add more of a ‘spiritual’ program that can address the many things people benefit from focusing on when they have addiction problems,” Ginny says. “Things like getting exercise and gaining strength, feeling good about their bodies, relaxing, deep breathing, mindfulness, building a new skill and a new community, and on and on. These are all qualities inherent in yoga that can help people feel good about their progress when they’re struggling.”

Adding yoga classes to CVFC’s roster of services is a multi-phase plan that began with staff member Emily Cole’s desire to earn a yoga training certificate. Conversations with her colleagues generated the idea that she could eventually lead yoga classes for their community, in their space—if only they had the right space… Perhaps providentially, CVFC recently purchased the second half of the building they occupy, and the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services will be working with them to renovate it this fall. The overhaul includes plans for a yoga studio and library of yoga-related books and videos.

champlain valley yoga ioby

Ginny hopes they’ll be able to open the space in May 2017, and eventually hold yoga sessions and even retreats there for both the people who use CVFC facilities and their loved ones. The organization will make sure classes are covered by clients’ health insurance or operate by donation. And Ginny hopes to get other area yoga studios involved: “If they know of people who might benefit from yoga in our setting, they can advertise it and refer people to us. And we can use some of our funding to offer gift certificates to people who want to expand their practice outside our hours or location.”

Having served on the CVFC board for 15 years, Ginny has seen lots of changes take place in Clinton County, a place she loves living, a place with a great small-town feel. “But our community is like many New York state communities,” Ginny says. “We have a real concern about the addiction crisis we’re facing. It used to be that addiction was viewed as a moral weakness; a character flaw. But we know now that it’s much more: it’s a health crisis like any other, and that means it has to be viewed and dealt with in many different ways: medically, with support systems, with behavioral changes. We’re looking for new ways to have an impact on this health crisis that’s becoming overwhelming. We have to try new things to find solutions that will help more people.”

Ginny says she realizes yoga might not be the answer for everyone struggling with addiction, but it is a way to address aspects of their experience that more traditional methods like going to a lecture or attending group therapy aren’t reaching. “We want to get the word out that yoga isn’t just for vegans!” she jokes. “It’s not just for circus performers, or supermodels. It is growing in popularity, and people are learning that they can just take the bits and pieces of it that suit them. It’s not all or nothing. It’s a practice that can be tailored to where a person is at any given time, that can help them at any stage in their recovery.”

Feeling inspired? Want to take action in YOUR neighborhood? If you have awesome ideas about how to make your town greener, safer, and more fun, let us help! Tell us your awesome idea right here. We’d love to help you get started today.