Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Yoga: Not Just Poses

This entry was written by Yoga Unites for Living Beyond Breast Cancer instructor, Jennifer Schelter:

So you’re not sure about this yoga thing. Maybe you’re intimidated by the poses. Or maybe you’re unsure about whether the exercise is really helpful or not. Regardless of where you’re coming from, there’s probably a lot you don’t know about yoga. Bottom line: yoga is not just about poses. There are many physical and emotional benefits to be gained from giving it a try.

Practicing yoga is like being an architect of your body. You connect the dots between your mind and body, while cultivating well-being and happiness.

In the last ten years, yoga has become a great way to “get fit”, flexible, balanced and toned. We’re motivated by celebrity beauty and glamour and we fear aging and death like the plague.Those would be reasons enough for anyone to leap into yoga and seek the fountain of youth.

But what‘s really happening when you’re doing yoga?

The deeper benefits, whether you feel them or not in the beginning, far surpass asana (poses).

You can easily get physically injured if yoga becomes yet another thing you have to “win.” The mind is really what we are all up against. And the center of yoga is your relationship to perception and your mind.

How do you slow down the mind long enough to feel in sync with your body?

The mindfulness of a yoga practice acknowledges that your body, heart and mind are like a river. How are you going to relate to this river that is constantly in flux? What awareness do you need in order to cherish, love and forgive your body, your self, others and the world?

Yoga provides the basic structure for four important daily life practices:

1. Inspiration: Inspiration is the foundation of change and growth. It helps you understand and expand your ever-evolving self.

2. Attention: What you focus your attention on impacts your mind. Feed the mind thoughts of victimization and fear and that’s what you will see. Feed the mind thoughts of trust and love and that’s what you will see.

3. Intention: Growth and transformation can only be fulfilled if you are willing to allow new thought and action. These new thoughts and actions can help you create new experiences that result in improved health, well-being and love.

4. Choice: Choice is the key ingredient to well-being because, as we all know, excuses are plentiful and an easy way out. Choosing to commit to your intentions opens up new worlds of opportunity and friendships.

These past eight years of Yoga Unites for Living Beyond Breast Cancer have been an incredible testament to the power of inspiration, attention, intention and choice, not only from women affected by breast cancer, but from all the participants who join together to meditate, acknowledge life as it is and celebrate unstoppable optimism.

Regardless of whether you’ve tried yoga or not, come join us on the steps of the Art Museum May 16th!

Interact with other participants by visiting our Facebook page and following us on Twitter!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Fundraising for Dummies

So you've registered for Yoga Unites for Living Beyond Breast Cancer and formed a team. Now you're not sure what to do next.

Fundraising can be a daunting thing, especially if you've never done it before. But there are hundreds of creative ways to fundraise that involve no prior training or skill. We're bringing some of these ideas to you in the hopes that you'll use them to help us raise $200,000 for the nearly 200,000 women that will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year.

1. Hold an event at a local restaurant.
Chances are you frequent a local restaurant regularly. Use this to your advantage and ask them to hold an event to benefit your fundraising team. Or ask them to donate a portion of the sale from a certain item to your team. Most restaurants are happy to help a good cause, especially if it will draw more people to them. Remember Jenna, our program coordinator? She raised over $500 in one evening by hosting an open bar night. Everyone paid $25 to get in and $10 of that went straight to Jenna's team, The Rack Pack.

2. Bag it up.
Let's face it: grocery stores are short-staffed these days. Most of us bag our own groceries, which takes extra time and is an added annoyance to most customers. So why not lend your services for the day? Find your local grocery store and offer to bag for a day (get your whole team involved). Leave tip jars at the registers for customers. Make sure to advertise this event beforehand as many customers will make sure to shop that day.

3. Embrace community organizations.
Visit your church, synagogue, fitness center or yoga studio and see what they can do to help. Maybe you can hold a Saturday morning pancake breakfast at your church and charge people $2 for a plate. Or maybe your fitness center or studio will hold a special, donations-only class to raise money for your team.

4. Use the kids.
Even if you're not a parent, you can still utilize local schools. Some schools will have a dress down day, where kids can pay $1 to wear jeans.

5. If you're good at something, sell it.
Everyone is good at something. If you like painting on the side, consider selling your paintings for a donation. If you like to make jewelry, sell it. If you're an organizer, offer to help someone organize their home in return for a donation. One of our supporters, Judy Herman, loves making chocolate chip banana cakes. Judy spent six days a week baking hundreds of cakes and raised over $5,000 for Living Beyond Breast Cancer. All she did was ask for a $10 donation for each cake.

Our website has lot's of other fundraising tips and tools for you to check out. The key is to look around you. Everyone is involved in some sort of group or organization, whether it be your work, volunteer organization, fitness center, book club, etc. Use these groups to brainstorm ways to raise money in the community.

Last but not least, ask for money. That form of fundraising is just as effective as ever. Write an email (or letter) to people you think may be interested in getting involved or making a donation. Personal stories always tug at people's hearts. Don't underestimate the impact of simply asking for help.

Do you have fundraising ideas of your own? Share them with others by becoming a fan of YU4LBBC on Facebook and following us on Twitter!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Reason Behind it All

All the proceeds raised from Yoga Unites for Living Beyond Breast Cancer go towards our programs and services. Programs like our Annual Conference for Young Women Affected by Breast Cancer. Check out the pictures from the 10th conference below--it's always good to remind ourselves why we're raising the money!

Help Living Beyond Breast Cancer raise $200,000 for the nearly 200,000 women that will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. We're almost at $25,000 already! You'd be amazed at the impact one fundraising team can have on the lives of thousands of women. Visit our website for more information & to form a fundraising team.

Become a fan of Yoga Unites for Living Beyond Breast Cancer on Facebook or follow us on Twitter!

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Rack Pack

This entry was written by Jenna Jackson, LBBC's Program Coordinator:

When my colleague asked me to write a blog entry about why I decided to start my own Yoga Unites for Living Beyond Breast Cancer fundraising team I thought it would be an easy thing to do. But now that I am trying to write it down, I’m finding it difficult to pinpoint just a few reasons for getting involved in the event. There are thousands of reasons why I felt it was something I wanted to do.

My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer during my spring break freshman year of college. I remember feeling lost and not knowing what to expect during the next few years. Yoga Unites for Living Beyond Breast Cancer helps fund a lot of the programming that assists families like mine during that time of confusion and uncertainty.

I recently became a Program Coordinator at Living Beyond Breast Cancer, which means I assist in the planning of our education events. In this position, I have the privilege of attending all of our conferences and networking meetings; as well as, listen in to all of our teleconferences. I am able to observe first hand all of the valuable resources that Living Beyond Breast Cancer provides to women affected by breast cancer.

I also felt it was a great event to bring all of my friends together. Once I decided to start a fundraising team, I asked all of my girlfriends on facebook and was surprised by all of the positive responses. I currently have 12 friends on my team and it gives us something positive to do together. We recently held a fundraiser at a local bar and restaurant and raised $520 for our team in two hours. Not many 23-27 year olds can say that they raised that much money on a Saturday night while just having fun with their friends!

There are a lot of reasons why I started my own fundraising team for Yoga Unites for Living Beyond Breast Cancer and I certainly can’t list all of them in this blog entry. To summarize all of them, I’d just like to say it is a healthy, fun, and unique way to bring people you know together for a good cause.

                                   Jenna (on left) and her sister

Like Jenna, you too can form a team for Yoga Unites for Living Beyond Breast Cancer! Just visit the website to register and get started. If you don't feel like starting your own team, join an existing one! There are tons of ways to get involved and help us raise $200,000 for the nearly 200,000 women that will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year.

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Tribute

This entry was written by Jennifer Schelter, creator of Yoga Unites for Living Beyond Breast Cancer:

Every year I dedicate Yoga Unites for Living Beyond Breast Cancer to my grandmother, Katherine Converse. She was one of my best friends. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer, there were no organizations like Living Beyond Breast Cancer available. For me, Yoga Unites for Living Beyond Breast Cancer begins and ends with her. Her legacy and everything she gave to me: family dinners, blue fish, strawberries and vanilla ice cream, sunny afternoons around her pool, hours playing “Hearts” around her kitchen table, visiting me at college, writing letters back and forth, always being there to talk and being a fabulous woman and grandmother.

I know my grandmother would have benefited from Living Beyond Breast Cancer and loved to participate in their programs and services. That’s why I dedicate my time and love of this event to her memory and to all the fabulous women I know who are courageous and loving, even in the face of breast cancer.

Who in your life is courageous, despite their circumstances? Consider forming a fundraising team in honor or memory of them for the 8th Annual Yoga Unites for Living Beyond Breast Cancer. It’s an amazing opportunity to honor the life of a loved one and help raise $200,000 for women affected by breast cancer. Learn more about the event, register and form a team by going to the website.

Jennifer Schelter is the founder of Yoga Unites®, a nonprofit dedicated to inspiring individuals and engaging communities by nurturing creativity and well being through the transformative power of yoga. Jennifer is also the founder and owner of Yoga Schelter.

Check out our blog and join us on Facebook!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Check your ego at the door

This entry was written by one of our volunteers. This is her first year participating in the event:

It’s coming up on my two-year anniversary since my breast cancer diagnosis. It’s been quite a journey in just two years! When I was first diagnosed in April 2008, I knew my life would change forever. At first, I thought it would change for the worst. But, this experience has changed me for the best in so many ways.

One of the most significant uplifting experiences I have had on this journey is my involvement with Living Beyond Breast Cancer. When I received the Guide for the Newly Diagnosed that first day in my surgeon’s office, I felt hope. LBBC’s mission statement would become my mantra; live the best quality of life for as long as possible.

About six months ago, I decided it was time for me to start getting back into yoga. (Of course, I thought I was a pro from way back when - I was self-taught using my power yoga DVDs.) I took an intensive beginner’s yoga class and from there I became hooked. At first, I just thought it would be good exercise. After a few weeks, I began to make the connection that yoga could change me not just physically, but spiritually and mentally. Back when I was initially diagnosed, I felt betrayed by my own body. As I get more into yoga and learned to breathe and listen to my body, I feel more in touch with my body. I am developing awareness. I am also learning acceptance of what I can and cannot do. I have learned to check my ‘ego’ at the door.

I am learning to live in the moment. I feel peace and jubilation that doesn’t end when the class ends. It only seemed natural that I get involved in LBBC's event, Yoga Unites for Living Beyond Breast Cancer, which is a basic outdoor yoga class and Healthy Living Expo. I formed a fundraising team for the event and appropriately named it "Jubilant Jugs."

Yoga Unites for Living Beyond Breast Cancer is a perfect event on so many levels: increasing awareness while supporting our mothers, sisters, and friends. And what a perfect place for such an event - at the top of the Philadelphia Art Museum steps! Rocky fans will particularly enjoy that location.

What am I looking forward to most? Participating with my fellow sisters (and brothers) on those Art Museum stairs. Jubilant Jugs… here we come!

Want to form a fundraising team for Yoga Unites for Living Beyond Breast Cancer?
Just visit the website & register to get started. It's a great way to honor someone's memory, support a loved one or like Kathy, celebrate being out of treatment! Even if you don't know someone affected by breast cancer or don't live in the Philly area, you can still form a team. 200,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year...let's support these women by raising $200,000!
Remember to visit us on Facebook & follow us on Twitter!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Hakuna Ma TATA's

This entry was written by Ann Kaczmarskyj, a Yoga Unites for Living Beyond Breast Cancer supporter:

In the past six years, my mother has been diagnosed with breast cancer four times. This past year, I decided to participate in as many breast cancer events as possible during the last year of my 20’s. I found Yoga Unites for Living Beyond Breast Cancer, and signed up. It was one of my favorite events, and I decided I had to do it again! However, I wanted to do more, so I’m recruiting others to join me. That’s how my fundraising team, Hakuna Ma TATA’s, was born.

My motto has always been, “don’t worry about it until you’re given something to worry about.” I’ve kept this in mind each time my mother was diagnosed. It helps me focus on the positive. Naturally, I wanted to incorporate it into my participation. After all, who can forget a name like Hakuna Ma TATA’s?

This event is my way of doing something for my mother, and all the other women and supporters affected by breast cancer. I’ve never heard of an event that promotes breast cancer awareness through yoga in such a public setting. What a great way to get the message out—on the steps of a major tourist attraction! At last year’s event, I performed yoga on the top step of the Philadelphia Art Museum. I remember looking down at all the other participants and being amazed by the quiet. It’s not often you’re in a city and its quiet. I was touched by the moment and the fact that we were all there for the same reason.

Am I a yoga professional? Absolutely not. But I went out there and had a great time. The instructor gave alternatives for beginners like me. Even if you can’t perform yoga, just relax and take in the peace of the city. You’re there for a good cause and watching the class on the steps is just as breathtaking as participating in it.

My mother has been a pillar of strength in our family. By participating in Yoga Unites for Living Beyond Breast Cancer, I’m being strong for her. I’m also being strong for the men and women that have been diagnosed with breast cancer, and for the thousands of men and women that will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. Instead of sitting around worrying about what could happen, I’m taking action to help change what will happen. After all, worry gets you nowhere. Will you join me?

Hakuna MaTaTa!

Ann & her mother Martha

 Ann is proof that you don’t need to live in Philly to form a fundraising team. She’s doing this all from Virginia, with some team members from New York! If you’d like to join Ann’s fundraising team, another existing team or form your own, please visit the event website. We’re encouraging all participants to form fundraising teams in order to help us raise $200,000. Last year, our fundraising teams brought in $68,052—which was over half of the total amount raised. Donations at all levels help us reach our goal and even just $5 or $10 can make a difference!

If you’re already registered to participate, share your story with us by leaving a comment below or on our Facebook Page. Why have you decided to get involved? Who are you raising the money for? You may have a chance to be featured in our next blog entry. Until then…Happy Fundraising!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

One Song

This entry was written by Beatrice Marx, a breast cancer survivor, yoga instructor and LBBC volunteer:

Yoga has always been a part of my life, but it wasn’t until I was diagnosed with breast cancer that I dove deeper into its roots. I found that yoga could help me cope with my newly changed life. It became a significant factor in how I approach my health and my life.

Like many, I initially tried yoga for its physical aspects. The mantras, affirmations and the meditation didn’t interest me. I just knew that I wanted to beat breast cancer and to not let it change me. If anything, I wanted to grow because of it. I wanted to make a positive out of a negative. As I practiced yoga after my first surgery, I focused on regaining strength and flexibility and slowly began to realize the beautiful connection between my breath, body and mind. I felt that I could get through anything with grace and dignity.

As a woman living with breast cancer there are many long waits, doctor visits, test results, scans, the “chemo chair”, etc. As you wait, you watch your loved ones go through the waiting along with you. What gave me peace during this time was focusing on my breathing. Even if you have never tried yoga before, we have all had moments where we’re aware of our breathing. I recommend breath awareness to all, especially to those diagnosed with breast cancer. Close your eyes and just follow your breathing. Follow it as it travels through your body and find it as it calms and relaxes every muscle and nerve. Feel the smile as it slowly creeps over your face. This is yoga. Peace in any situation.

Each day, I put one foot in front of the other as best I can. All of us are awakening to health and to joy at our own rate. Sometimes a discomfort brings us into a much deeper connection with who we truly are and allows new blessings to enter our lives unexpectedly. It is my wish for all women to realize their potential for grace and healing. We are all part of one song with many melodies. Sometimes joyful, sometimes sad, but the song continues and so must we.

 Will you be apart of something bigger than yourself? Help us raise $200,000 for women affected by breast cancer at the 8th Annual Yoga Unites for Living Beyond Breast Cancer. The first 50 people to register and form a fundraising team during March will receive a free watch from White House Black Market! Get more details by visiting our Facebook page.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Remember to Breathe

This post was written by Jeanne Egan, a breast cancer survivor & Yoga Unites for LBBC participant:

Prior to having breast cancer two and a half years ago, my day usually began with two Oreo cookies for breakfast accompanied by a couple big cups of coffee. I was usually sleep deprived, so a little sugar and caffeine in the morning seemed to be just the perfect things to get me going.

“Mommy, can I have a cookie for breakfast too?” My children would ask, not understanding why they couldn’t partake in this decadent morning delight. “When you're a grown up you can have whatever you like for breakfast,” I would flippantly respond. Looking back, I realize that my cavalier attitude towards my health was foolish.

“Diagnosis cancer” forced me to rethink a lot of things. First was my diet and second was my exercise regime. I rarely ate fruit and never took a vitamin supplement. I have always liked vegetables but I certainly wasn’t getting enough of them. I had been a runner for many years, but in the two years prior to my illness my running was sporadic. Oddly enough, I had dropped five pounds.

After finishing my chemotherapy and gaining weight, I decided I need a more holistic approach to my health. I cut out red meat, began to take flaxseed oil and vitamins, and changed to a diet of mostly fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. As far as my fitness regime, I continued to run but I bought a yoga DVD at the grocery store and began to learn Anusara yoga on my family room floor.

The changes in my body were almost immediate. Because there is so much focus on breathing, I achieved a deep relaxation while strengthening and stretching my entire body. I felt longer and more flexible than I used to. My core became stronger and my balance improved.

I finally got up the nerve to attend class at a yoga studio. Now, I enjoy Vinyasa classes with advanced practitioners and RePose Yoga with other cancer survivors. Each session brings me something different. As I participate in a moving meditation, I begin to know each and every part of my body just a little bit better, thus experiencing the healing effects of this ancient practice. Each time I emerge from my yoga class I am reminded of the importance of nurturing my body and my mind.

I'm looking forward to the Yoga Unites for Living Beyond Breast Cancer event and the opportunity to share this experience with family, friends and other breast cancer survivors on the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum. Yoga can be a valuable part of a healthy lifestyle as a breast cancer survivor. It helps bridge the gap between the mind and body. It teaches us about the divinity in each and every one of us. Most importantly, it reminds us that we all have a unique gift to give to the universe. All we need to do is to remember to breathe.

Check out Jeanne's blog.

Even if you’ve never tried yoga before, this event is a great way to support women affected by breast cancer while focusing on healthy living. It’s a powerful experience to see hundreds of members of the community practicing yoga with the city skyline as a backdrop. If you don’t live in Philly, don’t worry! You can still help us raise $200,000 for the nearly 200,000 women that will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. Why not form a fundraising team with family, friends or co-workers? There are plenty of ways to fundraise and our cool incentives provide great motivation. Check out the Yoga Unites for Living Beyond Breast Cancer website for more information.