Exhale to Inhale brings the healing power of yoga to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. The initiative was founded in 2013 by Zoë LePage, a then senior at Barnard College’s Athena Center for Leadership Studies.
Armed with an idea and a “deep sense of responsibility towards affecting change,” Zoë put what she learned in the classroom into action. She interviewed and connected with yoga studios and partnered with community organizations to bring yoga to women who could not only benefit from the practice, but who would not otherwise have access to it.
In just a few months Zoë created a roster of yoga teachers willing to donate their time, and launched weekly classes at shelters and community-based organizations in New York City. Since, Exhale to Inhale has expanded to the Hudson Valley, Long Island and Connecticut.
“The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence estimates that 1 in 4 women will experience violence in a relationship during their lifetime.” The intention of Exhale to Inhale is for participants to achieve trauma relief and serenity through the practice of yoga, which according to experts, has been found to reduce the anxiety and depression that many victims of domestic violence and sexual assault experience.
“Sometimes we need to let go of that which is holding us back in order to open ourselves up to new possibilities,” says Zoë. “As we move through the yoga asanas, we ground ourselves in our bodies, in our strength and in our stillness. We become mindful. We become aware of the workings of our own minds without attaching to our stories.”
In the short video above, we are introduced to Tara Tonini, the program’s director. Tara discovered yoga as a means of recovery from a relationship of domestic violence. Today, she teaches children, teen and adult yoga classes with a focus on the public school system and domestic violence shelters.
For more information on free trauma-sensitive yoga classes for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, click here.
If you are a victim of domestic abuse and need help, consider contacting The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE. Additional resources here.