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“I can’t describe how much better I feel after my weekly yoga class, better in every way. I went from having no interest in yoga to wanting to practice every day. Without HTHC’s yoga teachers, I don’t know if I ever would have learned how safe and strong I can feel in my own body.”

– Anissa, Boston Area Rape Crisis Center Student

Do you remember your first yoga class? The way moving your body with breath opened new doors for better living? And maybe, as your practice grew, how motivated you were to share with others the benefits of time on the mat? As you know, Hands to Heart Center (HTHC) is Boston’s only nonprofit yoga service and action organization. Our trained Community Yoga Teachers share free, inclusive, accessible classes with communities who stand to benefit the most from yoga and mindfulness practices, but with the least access to them. We continue to serve Greater Boston’s communities most affected by poverty and trauma, including homeless men, women and children, women living in domestic violence shelters, students of high-poverty schools, children with special needs, adults in treatment for substance abuse disorder, and veterans. A regular yoga practice has been proven to alleviate anxiety, depression, stress and the consequences of trauma, while helping students build resilience and capacity. HTHC is proving this every day through our programs.

“Hands to Heart Center provided us an transformative class that allowed students in our adult education program to start to learn the fundamentals of yoga. A few had been so intimidated by the thought of taking a ”yoga” class because their view of yoga was the posh studio with very flexible people. The HTHC classes meet our students where they were at that day — It could be sitting in a chair, just lying on the mat, or actively participating in the class. It was such a positive experience for our students, that a few of them have signed up for yoga class in their communities. We are looking forward to having HTHC back in the new year!”

– Stephanie, HTHC Community Partner Director

Through the healing connections we make with each yoga class, HTHC is not only transforming the lives of our students (and often our Community Yoga Teachers!), we are also transforming yoga for equity and social justice. The communities HTHC serves are affected by addiction, poverty and trauma often with the additional challenges of racism & bigotry, income inequality,  lack of opportunity, and fear of violence. HTHC feels urgency to transfer yoga practice to those suffering physically, mentally and emotionally because we know that regular yoga practice can result in healing and transformation, of individuals and communities. Economic, racial, and social justice are embedded in HTHC’s DNA.

HTHC is a small organization with a big impact, and 2017 has been an eventful year for us! By the end of 2017 we will have provided nearly 2,000 free and accessible yoga classes throughout Greater Boston! We’ve launched a partnership with The Prison Yoga Project, and were featured in Boston Yoga Magazine. We also received a generous grant through The Boston Foundation– HTHC’s first major grant– which allowed us to increase the hours of our Program Director! (The position is not full-time yet, but we’re getting close). For a young, grassroots nonprofit we’ve been able to accomplish so much with very limited resources, all because of the help of our dedicated community of supporters!

“The class I taught today was absolutely incredible! We had 16 people and everyone came up to me afterwards and thanked me and gave me a hug… it was so wonderful. Thank you for opening my eyes to such a wonderful gift. Teaching with Hands to Heart Center is truly one of the greatest experiences in my life!”

– Elizabeth, HTHC Community Yoga Teacher

But there is still SO much work to do, and with your support, HTHC plans to make great strides in achieving some new and ambitious goals in 2018. We want to launch our Yoga Coach Program, which will train HTHC students to teach yoga within their own communities, addressing issues of sustainability and diversity. We want to further grow our free & accessible yoga program to reach more communities in need- we would even love to be able to make a permanent physical home for drop-in and regular yoga and mindfulness classes. In order to achieve all this we need to create a full-time Program Director position–there is simply too much work to be done for a part-time staffer!

Your donation is critical in helping us continue the important work we do, increasing access to healing benefits of yoga with those having the least access to it, and fighting for social justice through the transformative power of yoga. We simply cannot do this important work with you!

Sincerely,

Susan Lovett

Hands to Heart Center Director & Founder