Yoga Center to Offer Free Classes to Survivors of Domestic Violence

FLORENCE — River Valley Yoga Center, a therapeutic yoga studio, is pleased to announce that Co-Director Susan Elena Esquivel is the recipient of a grant from the Iyengar Yoga Association of New England to provide free yoga classes to clients of Safe Passage in Northampton. The classes will be tailored to help survivors of domestic violence reclaim their bodies and their lives.

“Our goal is to use yoga to help these survivors ease their stress and anxiety while building confidence and strength,” Esquivel said. “I'm thrilled to offer another safe space where these families and individuals can heal from trauma.”

The classes, which will begin in November, are free for Safe Passage clients. Safe Passage is a nonprofit in Hampshire County offering support and shelter to families impacted by domestic violence. Families housed at the center are high-risk clients who have been moved from different states and countries to ensure their safety. In 2012, Safe Passage sheltered 44 adults and 35 kids and served 399 adults and 30 children in community programs.

Esquivel applied for the highly competitive grant from the Iyengar Yoga Association of New England (IYANE) in June 2013. IYANE provides grants to teachers of the Iyengar method to bring yoga to underserved populations in New England.

Over the last decade, numerous studies have suggested that yoga’s mind-body approach can help treat depression and anxiety and is useful in treating cases of PTSD.

Susan Elena Esquivel

Susan Elena Esquivel

“We believe Iyengar Yoga, in particular, will help these survivors put their lives back together,” Esquivel said. “This is also a population that’s often forgotten or overlooked. We want them to know that we see them, we feel their pain, and we want to help them on their road to a life free of violence and fear.”

River Valley Yoga Center is dedicated to the hatha yoga tradition of BKS Iyengar and has a strong commitment to serving the community. Esquivel is currently working towards certification in the Iyengar method in Boston and will work with certified Iyengar Teacher Peentz Dubble to develop a program for Safe Passage. The IYANE grant program was started to support Iyengar’s mission to alleviate the suffering of others.

The studio is open seven days a week and provides a variety of daily classes, specialty series, workshops and private lessons.

For more information, contact River Valley Yoga Center at (413) 584-1414 or or Safe Passage:


Photos courtesy of River Valley Yoga and Jean Henrique Wichinoski.