human rights


By Brooke Allison (edited by Leslie Hinson)

Hot Yoga of East Nashville has been a sponsor of the Martha O’Bryan Center from our very first year of operation. I remember that October (5 months after opening), I was asked to host a yoga event with Native Magazine, Lululemon and our old neighbors, Fat Bottom Brewing. I recall asking if the event could benefit a charity, and the ladies involved in the planning said yes. I realized I would have to find a charity that I wanted to support, and being new to Nashville at that time, I wasn’t familiar with local nonprofits. Ben Bredesen, the owner of Fat Bottom, mentioned the Martha O’Bryan Center. The name struck me as a mouthful but I looked into it, and soon discovered that I couldn’t think of a better mission to support.

The Martha O’Bryan Center is an anti-poverty nonprofit with deep community roots.  It was founded in the 1890’s to support impoverished North Nashville residents. Since 1948, the Martha O’Bryan Center has operated from the heart of Cayce Place – Nashville’s most distressed community – located just off Shelby Avenue in East Nashville, which is less than a mile from the hub of East Nashville and our yoga studio. The center continues to serve families in this neighborhood – not just to meet their immediate needs but to open doors for possibility and a hopeful future and possibility. Through their education and work-placement programs, they are working to create a culture – a culture of attainment to positively shape future generations.

Martha O’Bryan Center’s Mission echoes this vision:  empowering children, youth and adults in poverty to transform their lives through work, education, employment and fellowship.

There are a lot of folks who depend on the Martha O’Bryan Ministry; in fact, The Cayce Project alone houses 2,800 residents, most of whom are children. In these families:

    • the average income for the entire household in a year is $8,000,
    • 90% of the households are headed by a single female,
    • and the majority of these children are the second and third generations to grow up in poverty.

There is often significant trauma experienced by many of these children, including domestic violence, hunger, and lack of opportunity.  To serve these children, the Martha O’Bryan Center has defined 5 core investments: early learning, K-8 education, high school education, college and career programs, and family support services.  Just to name a few, Martha O’Bryan offers:

    • Family and child counseling and parental trainings
    • Employment placement, as well as childcare and preschool while parents are at work
    • Stronger education opportunities at the East End Preparatory School (a Charter Public School) in East Nashville
    • Tutoring and mentoring programs for middle school and high school students
      • Graduation rates at Stratford STEM Magnet have increased 30% – the highest improvement of all Metro Nashville Public Schools

Since that first event at the old Hot Yoga East location 5 years ago, we have supported the Martha O’Bryan Center with 100% of our donation classes, offered private classes for MOB staff, and hosted an annual food drive. We are looking to take our support of the MOB Center and the greater Nashville community to the next level with Free Yoga Wednesdays. See our Free Yoga Wednesdays Blog for details!

For more information on the Martha O’Bryan Center and the Cayce Project, please watch this short video:



By Mary Margaret Randall

“What do you do besides teach yoga?”

I get this question a lot.

Probably because I carry around a massive backpack with my laptop in it all the time, have a floating office around town, and have a biiiiit of a crazy schedule.

In a nutshell, I help youth tell their story. This is done through a nonprofit organization I created in 2016 called One Voice Nashville ( We teach storytelling and narrative journalism skills to middle and high school students in order to build bridges and close gaps in our community.

I have always been drawn to a good story, but like most good things, college was when it all came alive for me. During my time studying at the University of Alabama, I founded the Black Warrior Storytelling Festival, a local event focused on sharing stories from across the state of Alabama, and for my Senior Project, I collected and recorded stories from local veterans of the Civil Rights Movement. It was this project that revealed the power of community storytelling.

I made the move to Nashville eight years ago and I am beyond grateful for the city’s commitment to the arts. I have worked with youth in programming at schools all around Nashville and I am passionate about the crossroads between education and creativity.

One of our program sites this semester for One Voice Nashville is the Juvenile Detention Center, and a group of incredible students I have worked with there have created a series of real-life, personal stories shaped around these 3 themes: Past, Present, & Future. I have paired each young person with a local mentor and performer who will be sharing these stories onstage at a live event called UnLocked, (May 19th 6:30PM at 4th Story Theater- 2200 West End Avenue). Following the event, One Voice Nashville will produce an educational podcast about the history of the Juvenile Justice system and the leaders involved in making key decisions that affect the facility and the community as a whole.

Here’s the thing: It is easy to get lost in our social bubbles and get comfortable. But if I have learned anything from community work as well as practicing and teaching yoga, it is that we all need to get uncomfortable every once in a while. Otherwise, we would never learn, and that, my friends, is a tragedy.

Come support! Doors open at 6PM. Free & open to the public! Find us on Facebook under “UnLocked” and if you have any questions or want to learn more about this work, email me at