The St. Francis House Women’s Center has launched a weekly yoga series hosted in partnership with Hands to Heart Yoga Center – a local nonprofit whose mission is to share the healing practice of yoga with people affected by addiction, poverty & trauma in Greater Boston. The beginner yoga classes take place on Fridays and are open to all guests who identify as women. Participants are encouraged to ‘come as they are,’ no experience is needed and all bodies and ages are welcomed.
Creating a safe space for our guests to relax has always been a goal of the Women’s Center and these yoga classes are no different. Women’s Center Coordinator Jessica Shaughnessy makes note that for many of the attendees this is their first time ever trying yoga. She states, “There’s a lot of bravery that goes along with trying something new and doing something really vulnerable. I’ve been very impressed by the people who have chosen to participate.”
The yoga classes have had a warm reception from guests so far. Saundra Richardson, a guest and recent attendee states, “It was so refreshing. Doing yoga is an easy re-set and restores my energy and balance. I even meditated to the point I was almost asleep – that is how you know it is working.” It is incredibly encouraging to see our guests benefitting from partnerships with fellow nonprofits also looking to support people on their pathway to stability.
On leading the classes, Hands to Heart Yoga instructor Jessica commented, “We gave lots of modifications so it was accessible for everyone – some people were on chairs and some were on the floor.” Ensuring that everyone is able to participate in the way they want to is a priority for these classes. Jessica even made sure to have activities for those who wished to be present without participating in yoga. “We really wanted to create a relaxing environment, so even if a guest doesn’t want to fully participate, I bring some art or activities for them which is another meditative, relaxing way to enjoy the space,” she said. This flexibility allows the instructors to meet guests where they are, wherever that may be.
The Women’s Center underwent some impressive renovations just a few weeks ago and guests and staff members alike are grateful for the updated space and its ability to serve many different functions – it is a yoga studio, a counseling center and so much more. We look forward to seeing the classes continue and the enduring benefits the yoga series provides for our guests.