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Transformation is a challenging yet life affirming process for many, especially the residents of Brookview House in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. The Brookview House provides affordable housing for abused and homeless women and their children. All residents are provided with a safe space to live, access to skill building courses and a weekly yoga class.

The reigning principle at Brookview is that personal growth is created through stability, both mentally and physically. The free programs offered by Brookview House aimed to prepare women to gain employment and maintain permanent housing.

The yoga class was included to promote self-esteem, self-care and inner peace. Each week volunteers from the Hands to Heart Center of Boston come to the various residential sites to instruct classes. The non-profit organization, which offers yoga to individuals affected by poverty and trauma, partnered with Brookview House at a fundraiser in 2015.

“Yoga helps them become calm and centered and gives them the ability to focus on their goal,” Hughes said. “I think it has a calming influence on the community.”

In a report by Fox News, Donna Hughes, President and CEO of Brookview House, stated that after leaving Brookview, 92 percent of the women established permanent housing and 88 percent of the children residents graduated from high school.

Other free programs included resume building, mock interviews, parenting classes, and counseling opportunities. But the most popular program has been the weekly yoga course.

Victims of abuse and trauma can develop a disassociation with their bodies and Hughes believed the classes help reestablish a sense of ownership of their bodies. Each class revolves around reconnecting the individual with their body alignment and breath.

Diaphragmatic breathing techniques lower the heart rate and instill a sense of calm which the women can return to during situations triggering anxiety.

The program was originally offered as a six-week session but was expanded due to the positive feedback from the residents. Now, hour-long classes are scheduled regularly each week and the volunteers added a class for children to attend. The classes incorporate music and mediation and encourage families to practice together in their own homes.

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