How a quiet change is transforming young LGBT lives

At 4:59 p.m., the community space at HOME—our program for LGBT young adults—is bustling. There’s a group of three young women sitting on the couch talking, one program member is checking his email on the computer, other members go in and out, checking their schedule for the next day and flagging down staff to talk with. But at 5:00 p.m., the space begins to transform.

A few weeks ago, we kicked off our partnership with Harlem-based Land Yoga’s new nonprofit arm, Three and a Half Acres, to bring yoga to our LGBT young adult program members each Wednesday evening. Every week now, earth-tone yoga mats cover nearly every square-inch of the floor and the class is at maximum capacity.

But why yoga?

Well, first and foremost, like many programs at Harlem United, this program exists because it’s something that the members expressed an interest in. “This will help us,” they told us and so we’re working with Three and a Half Acres to get them what they need.

It’s clear that bringing yoga to HOME is helping to change the lives of these young LGBT adults. There’s a physical aspect to yoga—moving, stretching, pushing your body—which has obvious health benefits. And there’s also an emotional component—stillness, centering, setting intention—that infuses program members with clarity and confidence.After class last week, one student approached the instructor to share that he has diabetes, cancer, & HIV and this weekly yoga practice is exactly what he needs.

The benefits don’t go away when class ends, though. Increased flexibility, strength, and cardiovascular support bring noticeable changes to your day-to-day life. And the practices of meditation, patience, and self-awareness are practiced on the mat so that our program members can apply them off the mat, in their everyday lives.

I wanted to share this with you today so that you could see a little bit of what I see—the amazing transformation that happens in the lives of Harlem United clients every single day. This work is only possible because of your support. Whether that’s marching with us at Pride, calling and emailing your lawmakers, donating to a fundraiser, or showing your support online, I’m so thankful to know that we have a partner in you.

Want to read more or help spread the story? The NY Daily News wrote an article about the program.