“They love the children, they love the community, and they are an asset to Robert W Coleman. There are some children who have anger management problems. The yoga program has enabled those children to do meditation techniques and instead of them reacting and getting angry, they’ve learned how to meditate and redirect their anger.”
—Carlillian Thompson
Principal, Robert W Coleman Elementary School

“The Holistic Life Foundation, led by Andy Gonzales, Atman Smith, and Ali Smith, is doing some of the most positively transformative work happening in our country’s inner cities. While delivering an assortment of after school, mentoring, environmental education, and leadership training programs, HLF is changing the lives of the youth in their Baltimore neighborhood using a combination of yoga, mindfulness, and pure love. And their work doesn’t stop when the young people leave school, as HLF’s teacher training prepares graduates to deliver the HLF programs to other schools and neighborhoods. Andy, Atman, and Ali’s work should be a model for communities across the country.”
—James Gimian
Publisher, Mindful Magazine and

“The kids are changing before their very eyes and Baltimore is a better city because of their work. Knowing how yoga has helped me synchronize my mind and body and build resiliency, when I saw young, inner-city Baltimore youths sitting on yoga mats practicing mindfulness, I immediately wanted to see that in cities across the nation.”
—Congressman Tim Ryan
Democrat, Ohio

“When we had to take a big test, the MSA, before I took it and in the middle… I took deep breaths to stay calm and just finish the test. When everybody around you Is making a lot of noises just trying to tune them out…and be yourself, do your breathing.”
—5th Grade Student
HLF Yoga/Mindfulness Program, Baltimore, Maryland

“Sometimes if they [other kids] say something [to make me mad] sometimes I might say something back but sometimes I just focus on it and I just breathe…I just walked away [when something stressful happened]. I walked away and kept on breathing in and out, and then I came back.”

—6th Grade Student
HLF Yoga/Mindfulness Program, Baltimore, Maryland

“Sometimes when I get mad I just breathe deep… I just, like I picture me being in a certain place I like, and I just thought I could overcome everybody and then I just stop being mad…I think of being a bigger person and doing something maybe a wise man would do… I think of something that a stronger, a mentally stronger person would do.”
—5th Grade Student
HLF Yoga/Mindfulness Program, Baltimore, Maryland

“The HLF classes bring in relaxation towards me. It makes me take away depression and stress. And it also helps my mood swings and brings laughter towards me. It brings in joyfulness.”
—Richard, adult male
MOSAIC Community Services, North Baltimore Center

“This seems like something that can be used as a coping skill. I go to a therapist and a psychologist and the stuff you guys are teaching is awesome…I couldn’t concentrate, so I went through the relaxation exercise and did a meditation and it really helped.”
—Ellen, adult female
MOSAIC Community Services, North Baltimore Center

“This morning I got mad at my Dad, but then I remembered to breathe and then I didn’t shout. I really with you guys could stay longer and teach us more exercises.”
–Virginia, student

“I hope you three can come back next year. I will use the breathing if I get mad or sad.”
–Ray, student

“HLF facilitates and advances the learning of all children to become more aware, compassionate, focused and kind. These guys do amazing work and connect with ALL children.”
–Deborah Hoffman, principal

“The Holistic Life Foundation residency program at Lincoln Elementary School was a fantastic experience for everyone involved. Andy, Ali and Atman came into our classrooms and won the hearts of students and staff through their ability to meet each and every person with acceptance, patience and compassion. Their positive energy and great sense of humor helped students feel at ease and inspired them to learn and practice the breathing and movement exercises. We integrated the exercises into our daily schedules and this has helped many students (and teachers) focus their attention and regulate strong emotions such as anxiety, anger and frustration. With ongoing practice, students are discovering that they have a choice in the way they respond to stressful situations rather than automatically react to them. We are a better school because of the time they spent in our classrooms teaching all of us the beauty of paying attention to breath, to movement, and to each other.”
–Lori Gustovson, teacher

“Ali, Atman, and Andy were able to engage with my students around mindfulness practices in ways I never could. I am grateful that they have opened a door for me that I was really struggling with.”
–Heather Robertson, teacher

“The best thing I learned from you was loving others. Not to hate each other…I will always remember you.”
–Joselin, student

“I went to my house and taught my Mom how to do all the things you guys taught us. You guys are the best. I will always remember you. You guys made a lot of people happy at Lincoln.”
–Martin, student

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Baltimore, MD 21211


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