Thursday, March 26, 2009

Living in the Moment

"Learn to be genuine in every moment of your life."
--Chogyan Trungpa

This quote reminds me of a common saying: “Live in the moment.” But what does that really mean? And what does it mean to be genuine and live in the moment?

For me, it means giving my time and effort to support others. For many of the women who attended Living Beyond Breast Cancer and the Young Survival Coalition’s 9th Annual Conference for Young Women Affected by Breast Cancer, it means appreciating each day. For others, it means focusing on relationships. And for most, it means getting involved in a cause that’s important to them.

Judging from the increase in fundraising teams (3 new teams in the past 4 days), it seems like many are choosing Yoga Unites® for Living Beyond Breast Cancer (YU4LBBC) as their way of living in the moment. The effort our teams have put into raising funds and awareness is a great example of being genuine by supporting others. And through raising funds and getting the word out, our teams are helping hundreds--whether diagnosed with breast cancer or not--improve their quality of life through the healing effects of yoga. Rather than thinking of it as a circle of giving, think of it as a circle of living.

We hope you’ll consider living in the moment with us on Sunday, May 17. What better way to do that than by watching the sunrise while performing yoga on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art? You can get more information on YU4LBBC a number of different ways. Check us out on Facebook (we’re up to almost 400 members!) and at our newly-launched Web site. You can also follow us on Twitter at YU4LBBC. And if you want to create your own YU4LBBC team, contact Lauren Ainsworth at

That’s all for this week. Remember to share your stories with us by posting a comment here or by joining our discussions on Facebook. And get your friends involved! It’s always more fun to live in the moment with others right beside you.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Beatrice Marx: Profile of a Yoga Unites for Living Beyond Breast Cancer Participant

Beatrice Marx was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003. In 2007, her cancer recurred, having spread to her liver, lungs and spine. When Beatrice was first diagnosed, her physician recommended she try yoga.
Beatrice not only tried yoga, but also became so engaged by it that she got certified to teach, shortly before her recurrence was diagnosed. Beatrice credits yoga with her ability to maintain her equilbrium as she continues to face uncertainty, anxiety, pain and the need to stay calm and still for exhaustive testing.
Last year, Beatrice assisted Jennifer Schelter as an instructor at Yoga Unites® for Living Beyond Breast Cancer (YU4LBBC). She also created her own team for the event, The Wellness Warriors. Beatrice's Warriors are all women who have suffered different illnesses.
This year, Beatrice is continuing to support YU4LBBC. As she explained in a recent letter to other yoga teachers, "after my recurrence, I turned my attention to healing myself and also to continue to give to others. I started with the 2008 Living Beyond Breast Cancer Yoga Unites event ..."
You can join Beatrice on Friday, April 3, from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. for a fundraising event for YU4LBBC at The Yoga Center of Medford. East will meet West through drumming, singing and chanting facilitated by Justin Marx and Gary Palisch. The event is free, but donations for this organization will be gratefully accepted. For more information or directions, visit

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Yoga and Breast Cancer

Earlier this week, I promised to write about yoga and breast cancer. You may have wondered why Living Beyond Breast Cancer chooses a yoga practice rather than the traditional walk or run to support our cause. Increasingly, research is correlating the practice of yoga to overall well-being in women being treated for breast cancer. Our mission is different from many other breast cancer organizations. We exist solely to help women from the moment of treatment forward to live their best life possible. We believe that for many women, yoga can be one of the many tools they employ during breast cancer treatment and beyond. In addition, by making our fundraiser an inclusive yoga practice, we open it up to everyone.

The newest piece of research about yoga and breast cancer came out late last month, when researchers from Wake Forest University School of Medicine reported that yoga can improve the emotional health of women affected by breast cancer
. The report published in Psycho-Oncology supports findings by Albert Einstein College of Medicine and The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, as well as two studies published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. All of the studies point to a link between the practice of yoga and increased quality of life and feelings of wellness during breast cancer treatment. For example, the researchers at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center found that women who practiced yoga during the period in which they were receiving radiation therapy experienced increased physical functioning, better general health, improved social functioning, lower levels of sleep-related problems and lower levels of overall fatigue. The Wake Forest study found that after 10 weeks of restorative yoga -- a variation on gentle yoga -- participants reported less fatigue, a 50 percent decrease in depression and a 12 percent increase in feelings of peace and meaning.

These studies simply support what many women have experienced in their own lives. On your next visit to our blog, learn about Beatrice Marx, who began practicing yoga after her initial breast cancer diagnosis and is now a teacher, mentor and one of our strongest fundraisers, despite a more recent metastatic, or stage IV, breast cancer diagnosis. We want to hear your stories about breast cancer and yoga. Please post them here or on Facebook

Monday, March 16, 2009

Anyone Can Do Yoga!

Happy Monday! We're so excited that our new Yoga Unites® for Living Beyond Breast Cancer Web site debuts today. Check it out!

The last two weeks have brought an influx of registrations for May 17. I think it may be the warm weather, but no matter what it is, keep 'em coming.

Still, a lot of our supporters are reluctant to register for May 17 because they've never tried yoga. If that describes you, please reconsider. This event is intended for people of all fitness levels and all ages. You can't participate without feeling the warmth and support of the entire group, making it the perfect place to try yoga for the first time. Besides, with 500 people all practicing together, it would be hard to stand out in the crowd.

Later this week, I'll be writing about some new research linking yoga to increased quality of life and feelings of calm in women undergoing treatment for breast cancer. The connection between yoga and quality of life relates directly to our mission of helping women from the time of diagnosis to live their best life possible. If you have a story to tell about yoga during your own treatment, please post it here or on our
Facebook group.

The word of the day is Namaste, which is derived from Sanskrit. Commonly used at the end of a yoga class, Namaste loosely translates to "the light in me honors the light in you." Namaste, YU4LBBC supporters.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Help Us Meet Our Goals: Start a Team

As of today, Yoga Unites® for Living Beyond Breast Cancer (YU4LBBC) is just two months away. The economic downturn has impacted our fundraising, which makes meeting our goals for YU4LBBC more important than ever so that we can continue to help women diagnosed with breast cancer live their best life. We realize it's harder for people to give this year, so we're encouraging more people to give just a little (not that we'd turn it away if you want to give a lot!) through our team fundraising program.

This year, we're asking everyone who registers to consider starting a fundraising team for YU4LBBC. Teams can be created in honor or in memory of a special person, or can just be a group of friends who want to participate in YU4LBBC. Each year, we have several 13-year olds who create teams as part of their B'nai Mitzvah celebration. You certainly don't need to be an experienced yogi to create a team or participate in YU4LBBC.

Each team is as unique as its captain; the only thing they have in common is the goal of raising money for Living Beyond Breast Cancer. Some teams ask people to sponsor their participation in YU4LBBC. Others hold off-site events, like fashion shows or dinner parties to raise money. Last week, one team held an East Meets West Drumming Circle.

This year, team captains will find support and ideas through the discussion board on our new Facebook group; on Twitter by following YU4LBBC; and through this blog. Please consider creating your own YU4LBBC team by contacting Lauren Ainsworth at

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Welcome to Our Blog

Welcome to the Yoga Unites 4 Living Beyond Breast Cancer blog. With less than three months until the big event on May 17th, we're entering the heavy sign up period for teams. We just had a new team sign up this week, led by Cece Charendoff, a 12-year old student who is making Yoga Unites for Living Beyond Breast Cancer(YU4LBBC) her Bat Mitzvah project. Her goal is to raise $1800 for the event, which is the day after her Bat Mitzvah. We can't wait to see Cece and her friends up bright and early after her big day. It's a shame they're too young for coffee.

There are a lot of exciting changes going on this year with YU4LBBC. This blog is one of them. You'll be able to find out exactly what's going on right here, with inside information about fund-raising efforts, events and participation. You can follow us on Twitter at YU4LBBC. We're also on Facebook, where you can join in discussions about your team and fund-raising, and share your stories about your journey through breast cancer and your experience with yoga. Please join our Facebook group -- we already have close to 300 members. Get your friends to join and let's see how quickly we can top 1000.