Maria Cadena started her yoga practice, Homemade Yoga, with the intention to give back. She offers private instruction at affordable prices, and with each session booked, she donates $5 to one of three nonprofits of the client’s choice: , Barking Hound Village Rescue Foundation or .
“Part of what pushed me to start Homemade Yoga was working with a charity,” Cadena said.
“I was invited by Jennifer Lester of One Love Generation to be their live sketch yoga model. That night, a part of me that had been sleeping was awoken. What you get when you give is beyond words.”
But her partnership with Trees Atlanta extends beyond donations. Every other Sunday through October, Cadena and Trees Atlanta offer Yoga for Trees—a 75-minute, Hatha and Power Flow yoga session for just $10 a person, of which 50 percent goes back to the nonprofit to support NeighborWoods, its hands-on program that helps Atlantans learn the importance of planting trees and caring for both young and old trees in their communities.
The sessions take place at Trees Atlanta’s Kendeda Center in Reynoldstown.
“I wanted to partner up with a local nonprofit that works with/towards environmental issues as well as educational programs. Trees Atlanta offers both,” said Cadena.
It goes without saying that the inspirational yoga instructor is a tree lover.
“One of my favorite stories as a little girl (and as a semi-grownup) is The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. Actually, every new person that joins us gets a thank you bag and inside is a little notebook--made of 100% recycled material--with the cover of the book.”
Trees Atlanta finds the program to be a natural fit.
“It’s a great way to engage the community, use the space in a new way, and take care of our minds, bodies, and spirits,” said Bethany Clark, Trees Atlanta communications and office manager.
“I’ve attended the class, and it was a total win-win. In addition to taking time out to invigorate my body with a great yoga class, I knew that 50 percent of my fee went to supporting Trees Atlanta’s mission.”
Cadena sees her impact with things as simple as an email or comment from a class attendee.
“I’ll get, ‘Thank you, that was just what I needed.’ What you need, you will always find inside yourself. Yoga is just a way of getting to it.”
“But probably my favorite moment was when we were doing tree poses next to the tree inside the center. There was a peacefulness and tranquility that filled the room. It was beautiful.”
“It has been a pleasure to see one of our rooms morph into a tranquil space to practice yoga,” Clark said.
As of now, Yoga for Trees will continue to be held every other Sunday through October. Extending through January is a possibility, but Cadena is exploring other ways to support the community, too.
“The idea of Yoga for Trees is actually part of a bigger picture that I am working on called Yoga for a Cause. I have been working with the Barking Hound Village Foundation Rescue to start Yoga for Dogs by the end of September. As well as Yoga for Guatemala as part of One Love Generation's International Service Art Project.
Is there any better way to work out your mind, body and giving spirit in an hour?
Yoga for Trees will take place this Sunday, Sept. 25 at 10:30 a.m. Visit homemadeyoga.com for more information.