Resource Highlight: Yoga for Abortion Providers


A yoga flow created by yoga instructor Ashley Flowers and Regional Clinical Network Leader Maya Bass.

Ashley Flowers is the owner of Ashley Flowers Yoga ( Based in Portland, Maine, Ashley provides a range of indoor, outdoor, and virtual classes for beginners and seasoned practitioners. Prior to launching Ashley Flower Yoga, Ashley started her career in Environmental Education.

Maya Bass, MD, MA currently works as an Assistant Professor and Associate Program Director in the Department of Primary Care at Cooper University with an interest in resident and medical student education, reproductive health, underserved care, wellness, chronic pain, and addiction.  At RHAP, Dr. Bass is the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic Regional Clinical Network Leader, supporting clinician activists in RHAP’s Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island Clusters.  

Yoga for Abortion Providers ( )

How did you two meet?

Ashley Flowers: Maya and I met at least 17 years ago and became fast friends. We both share a love of folk music and I’m pretty sure we met for the first time at the Falcon Ridge Folk music festival in upstate New York, although we have both been attending that festival and the Philadelphia folk festival for most of our lives. We also share a deep love of hula hooping, being outside, and yoga! 

What sparked the creation of this resource?

Ashley Flowers: Maya shared with me that through her teaching she saw a need for abortion providers to work on a few areas of self-care in order to offer the best care to their patients and support their own health and well-being.  Maya highlighted that for clinicians who provide abortion care tension in the neck and back can be a challenge. We also focused on movement of the arms, hands, and shoulders as procedures requires a degree of strength and flexibility. Providing abortion care in the current hostile environment is especially stressful. Creating a practice that centered relaxation was also important to us.

What was the collaborative process behind creating this guide?

Ashley Flowers: Maya is also trained as a yoga instructor and is a dedicated student of yoga which is what gave her the idea to offer a practice for abortion providers. Since I teach yoga full time, Maya reached out to me so we could work on this together– merging her knowledge of clinicians and patients in this context and my experience in using yoga to help students address specific physical, mental, and emotional needs.

Maya Bass: After connecting we ran through different poses that I had been using for my own areas of discomfort. Using zoom we played around with different postures and determined which would be the most beneficial and could still be practiced in any setting. We wanted to use poses that could still be practiced behind a desk while wearing scrubs, or in a hallway with no place to sit or lay down. 

What are your hopes for this resource?

Ashley Flowers: In its most historical sense, yoga is the art and science of getting to know yourself. When we use yogic practices to understand the strengths and limitations of our own bodies, it begins to uncover the inner wisdom and awareness that leads us into the healing practices that are best suited for the needs of individuals’ life.

I hope that this sequence can offer abortion providers a moment of respite to work on their physical and mental health. I think when we take care of ourselves, that puts us in the strongest position to take care of others. So ultimately, I hope that this practice creates healthy clinicians, and thus healthier patients. 

Maya Bass: I think there is an additional feeling of love and support that comes from something being made especially for you.  By making this flow specifically for the people working in this community we are sending them a little extra love and support. 

Anything else you would like to add?

Ashley Flowers: It was really special to be able to work with Maya in a professional setting. I have always known that Maya is an incredible human, but even after all this time I continue to be inspired by the depth of the caring and compassion that she brings to her work!

Maya Bass: The creation of this flow was filled with love, collaboration, and a good amount of joy. We hope that all of that good energy translates well into this practice!

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