Upward Facing Somerville Cultivates Community and Charity Through Yoga

Many of us have great intentions about volunteering or giving back to the community, but ultimately feel stretched too thin to make a real difference. Somerville resident and yoga instructor Chandra Cantor is out to change all that with Upward Facing Somerville, an initiative that brings people together to do yoga and do some good for local nonprofits.

After years of feeling like she didn’t have the resources to give back, Cantor decided it was time to find a way. She asked herself, “What would make my life more fulfilling?” And landed on volunteering.

So Cantor decided to combine her nearly two decades of experience practicing and teaching yoga with her desire to help others to create Upward Facing Somerville. She recruited her friends in the local yoga community to help and now every studio in Somerville is hosting a special class in January where the proceeds will be donated to an organization of the studio’s choice. And to foster community, each class will be followed by a potluck, tea or social time for the attendees.

“It’s a simple way of doing good,” Cantor said. During the hang out time after the classes, Cantor hopes people discover ways to pool their resources to “make the world a better place” and perform “little random acts of kindness.”

Upward Facing Somerville

Cantor begins all of her yoga classes by having everyone sit in a circle to do introductions and ask questions. She hopes the social aspect of Upward Facing Somerville will cultivate this same type of communication.

“It’s about opening up,” Cantor said. “People are growing friendships and chatting after. They’re hungry for community. Volunteering is a great way for people to get to know one another.”

And while Upward Facing Somerville is starting in the yoga community, Cantor sees it expanding way beyond that. “This could grow to become something quite big with more communities.”

All of the classes are being held on different days and at different times to give people the opportunity to attend more than one if they choose. Beyond giving back to the local community, Upward Facing Somerville also gives people a chance to try yoga studios they may not have been to in the past “all in the name of creating a better world,” Cantor said.

Each of the yoga studios selected their own charity and the price for the classes, which begin this weekend, will be set by each studio. Here’s a full schedule of when the classes take place and what charities each studio has selected:

Saturday, January 11: 10 a.m.-11:30 a.m.
Arts at the Armory, 191 Highland Ave., 3rd Floor
All proceeds benefiting Healthworks Community Fitness

Sunday, January 12: 2 p.m.-3:30 p.m.
O2 Yoga
288 Highland Ave.
All proceeds benefiting Maple Farm Sanctuary

Saturday, January 18: 2 p.m.-3:30 p.m.
Bow Street Yoga
34 Bow. St.
All proceeds benefiting Second Chances

Sunday, January 19: 6 p.m.-7:30 p.m.
be. in Union Yoga
440 Somerville Ave.
All proceeds benefiting Respond

Saturday, January 25: 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Brooklyn Boulders
12A Tyler St.
All proceeds benefiting Brooklyn Boulders Foundation

Sunday, January 26: 2 p.m.-3:30 p.m.
Samara Yoga
249 Elm St.
All proceeds benefiting the Somerville Homeless Coalition

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