by: ELIZABETH USSHER GROFF - Before  teaching her 'Healthy Backs' Sunday morning class, Betsy Rose Borchardt steps outside Pureheart Community Healing Center, on a corner that used to be a place for drug exchanges. Neighbor Mike Yang greets Betsy, who quiets his 7-year-old Lab, Katie, by asking her to do a 'down dog' which also happens to be the name of one of the most commonly-taught yoga poses.When neighborhoods write a plan for development, often a key step is identifying a business that can serve as an anchor for the neighborhood – one that brings people together and improves the community. If no such business exists, neighbors are encouraged to create it.

Pureheart Yoga, recently renamed “Pureheart Community Healing Center” when it received nonprofit status, is becoming an anchor for Creston-Kenilworth, an Inner Southeast neighborhood that does not have a community center, and has struggled over the years for a sense of cohesiveness.

Located at the corner of S.E. 41st and Gladstone, just north of the Woodstock neighborhood boundary, the nonprofit is filling the vacuum – and gaining a reputation for its compassionate, affordable, and inclusive group and individual specialized yoga classes, and therapeutic healing instruction.

“Two and a half years ago when we started Pureheart, our idea was for it to be an anchor and informal community center, as well as a yoga studio,” smiles Trish Ivie, who co-owns the studio with her husband Alex de Guzman.

Ivie says building the business and fulfilling their goal of empowering people and building community has been a little like the rigors and joys of backpacking, or climbing mountains.

“When we first took over the building, we had the challenge of a lot of drug exchanges on this corner. We told them it was not okay, because we wanted the corner to be a welcoming spot for neighbors.” Committed to their vision of a healthy community, they got other neighbors to help, and managed to clear the corner and make it a welcoming entrance into their studio space.

But that welcome is more inclusive than just a physical space.

“What we’ve always been about is being welcoming, unpretentious, and affordable. When I was growing up, I couldn’t afford to go to yoga class. For years, I learned from a book, and practiced on my own,” remarks Ivie.

Having affordable rates, and offering some free classes and some by donation on a sliding scale, have made the studio a place whose reputation for caring and healing has spread mostly by word of mouth.

“We attract different populations – people with injuries, high blood pressure, and cancer. Our slower, gentle, therapeutic classes are doing especially well,” reports Ivie. Future classes will include Yoga for Addiction and Recovery, Yoga for the Deaf, and Trauma Sensitive Yoga, in addition to the popular Prenatal Yoga and Healthy Back classes.

The variety of classes is an additional attraction at Pureheart. Meditation class is on the second Saturday of each month from 7 to 8 pm, for a suggested donation of $1 to 7, and Guerrilla Tribal (belly dance movement) classes started in November.

For a full daily listing of classes and events go online to: HYPERLINK ""

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