Healing and Resilience through Yoga (Hart Yoga) is a group-based program that integrates yoga poses, breathwork, and guided visualization. The approach is anchored to a fundamental belief in our innate wholeness and capacity to heal from trauma, as well as a desire to expand access to contemplative practices.
Since 2016, Hart Yoga has been supporting women and girls who have experienced human trafficking and gender based violence—global issues that violate fundamental human rights and have devastating consequences for survivors, their families and communities. Hart Yoga recognizes this broader context of gender inequality and violence that de-values women and girls and compromises their well-being on multiple levels. The program aims to reverse this dynamic by supporting participants to connect with their inner resilience, build a supportive community, and overcome the consequences of trauma. Hart Yoga evolves over 12-weeks, with each session aspiring to cultivate an experience of:
Feeling Grounded: Being supported, centered, and fully present in the current moment and physical space.
Freedom with Support: Being guided yet having the freedom to make choices, and move at your own rhythm.
Embodiment: Gaining a felt-sense of your physical body by exploring subtle sensations, with curiosity and compassion.
All aspects of Hart Yoga aspire to reflect feminist practice and are intentionally designed to promote safety, trust, and interpersonal connections. We are currently implementing Hart Yoga in two of Willow International’s shelters in Kampala, Uganda for women and girls who have experienced human trafficking for sexual exploitation and/or labor.
Hart Yoga Facilitators
Hart Yoga sessions are facilitated by two amazing women who also reside in Willow's shelters. For their safety we prefer not to include their names online.
Cady is an assistant professor at the University of Alabama. Her research addresses the intersections of violence against women and mental health. She is Hart Yoga's research and evaluation lead.
Sophie works in feminist programs and research to prevent violence against women and is a trauma-sensitive yoga teacher. She is the founder of Hart Yoga and the program lead.
Kelsey is the founder and executive director at Willow and a PhD candidate at the University of California, Irvine. She overseas Hart Yoga implementation in Willow's shelters.