Boston Children’s Hospital- Yoga Reaches Out: Dianne Cella

“For the past 41 years and counting, I’ve been working at Boston Children’s Hospital as a nurse in both inpatient and ambulatory. I’m also a reiki master and yoga instructor and for the past three years, I’ve had the opportunity to run the hospital’s Family Wellness Center, since its start in 2016. It began as a little seed and grew immensely with funding through Yoga Reaches Out. We’ve really been able to expand because of the event.

I’ve always had a spiritual curiosity. When I was in high school, I grew curious about the philosophy of yoga, even though it wasn’t popular in America then. Later, when I was living in the Boston I took my first yoga class at Joy of Movement and was sold, but it wasn’t until I moved away and found my real guru, Dianne Lagadec when I was inspired to become a teacher.

I never wanted to be a yoga teacher, though. I just wanted to bask in the ideas of: what are chakras, asanas and yoga sutras? The philosophies, the breath work—it was all so interesting, so I started a Teacher Training. But, part of the Training was actually being a teacher, and soon, my my huge fear of being in front of a group was cured. I taught my first class and got such positive feedback! My guru, Dianne, gave incredible guidance to, “teach what you know,” and to “teach from within.” From a physical point of view, yoga keeps you limber, moving even as you get older, and always turned on to the spiritual component, which is such a journey within. It’s a journeying space and some things you hook on to and some things you forget. What’s cool is you can always have a beginner’s mind.

I’d like to share a note received from one of the patient’s parents. She was a new mom whose baby needed IV antibiotics for three weeks. She and her husband took advantage of the free massage, yoga and reiki we offer in the Wellness Center. It really helped them through their difficult time here.

The note reads:

“To the women in the Wellness Center and the incredible women in the yoga class. Thank you for the warmth, kindness and support you offered me during our time at Boston Children’s Hospital. Reiki, massage and yoga were an essential part of how I got myself out of the hospital room, rebuilding my sense of trust in my new momma-self. And the yoga class ended up being so much more than I expected. I am in awe of each of the women I met there. I’ve never felt so humbled and cared for at the same time. Much love to all of you. Keep being amazing! I hope the best for all of you and your loved ones.”  – Unnamed

Particularly with the yoga classes, it’s not just a yoga class. It’s a class where parents come together. We do yoga, but we spend a lot of time afterwards sharing stories and supporting each other. It’s the truest essence because it goes from breathing in the asana, to tremendous love and sharing of love—and not feeling so alone because bonds are made between parents who then reach out to each other outside class. People come in and put down a mat and for an hour they’re taking care of themselves, tuning into their own mind and heart, and really becoming aware of their own self. It’s become way more than yoga in this room.

I have another story. One of the patient moms was in my yoga class and we were in tadasana (mountain pose). I asked that everyone rotate their arms with their palms out away from them, and she said, “Oh my gosh. That makes me feel so anxious.” She really got in touch with what her anxiety was; that opening of the heart; of the front side of her body. Time went on and she would come into the class regularly while her child was being cared for at Boston Children’s and a while later I made the same instruction and I asked, “How do you feel?” She said “I feel okay now.”

Through her body, she understood some of the things that were going on in her heart and mind – being open, and she opened. Just that little rotation in the shoulders really changed things for her. In our safe environment, she could talk about it. This is yoga at its best.

The yoga component that we offer is big, along with meditation, reiki, and massage.

A patient; a young woman called down to the Wellness Center to request yoga. I read her chart and I wasn’t sure how I’d be able to help her.

I went to the patient’s room and found this 13-year-old awaiting a double lung transplant. Her shoulders were hiked up. She was on oxygen and barely had enough breath to talk. I thought about what we could do that wouldn’t tax her heart and lungs. I decided we would do some head rolls, but mostly focus on breathing down to her belly as much as she could and softening her belly joints. When we finished, I asked her, “So, what do you think?” She responded,

“It’s the first time my feet have been warm in years.”

Because all of her oxygen and all of her energy had been in her heart with her lungs protecting it, she finally had an opportunity to really move that energy through her body so that her feet were warm. It was really amazing. And she went on to love yoga. She had the transplant, but sadly she passed away. She was the sweetest, most open young lady. I feel like part of her legacy is that I can tell her story. That she was that sick, yet that open. She was a wonderful kid. And memories of her remind me that yoga’s power is in the moment as well as the journey.  

I’m fulfilling my purpose, really—my dream. It’s where my head meets my heart. The hospital does amazing things. Heart surgeries, liver surgeries, reconstructing bladders and all that. I feel like our Wellness Center pulls people in a different way, in a different space and allows them to have a full experience and to breathe. Just to exhale for a moment and to know that they are coming to a supportive place. It’s amazingly satisfying for me to create the environment as a yoga instructor and reiki master.

We’ve been able to really branch out and meet people on a whole other level that I don’t feel like necessarily get attention. It’s a fast- paced, high-tech environment and it really helps to slow down and integrate mind, body and spirit into care.

I really believe in all we do and I know that it has so much meaning in the patient families’ lives. I feel so dedicated to it. It is my life.

It’s interesting too, while teaching the reiki classes, you learn a lot about the people you’re teaching, but you also learn a lot about yourself. It’s like a circle–the things you put out you then receive. It’s a beautiful dance, really. It’s an opportunity to keep on growing, practicing, keeping your own heart open and focusing on your own self-care. It’s important, but it’s hard. We’re not perfect, so yoga is perfect for our lives. ” – Dianne Cella

Every year Yoga Reaches Out harnesses the incredible power of the yoga community to enhance the lives of patients and families. Join more than 1,000 yogis in raising funds for Boston Children’s Hospital. Together, we’ll gather at Gillette Stadium Empower Field House on Sunday, April 28 for a day filled with inspiring presenters, friends and the power of seva. To learn more visit or email .

Check out our other inspiring stories of everyday yoga practitioners and please, #ShareToEmpowerALL ! We strive to empower others to get vulnerable, and be inspired to start a yoga practice of their own to bring in hope & possibility.

One response to “Boston Children’s Hospital- Yoga Reaches Out: Dianne Cella”

  1. […] Award at Boston Children’s Hospital to expand yoga at the hospital.  The grant allowed Dianne Cella and me (along with Lori Lazdowski) to train in Urban Zen Integrative Therapy. This added Reiki, […]


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