Thursday, April 21, 2011

Share your Hero's Journey at Yoga on the Steps

This entry was written by Jennifer Schelter, prominent yoga instructor who will lead over 1,000 breast cancer supporters during the yoga class for Yoga on the Steps:

Yoga on the Steps for Living Beyond Breast Cancer (LBBC) is a magical morning to share and define your "Hero’s Journey."

How do you define being the hero of your own life? Do you define it physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually? What do you do on a daily basis to acknowledge your own and others heroism?

As we count down to the days before Yoga on the Steps, I invite you to awaken to your Hero’s Journey – being unstoppable in the face of life’s obstacles. We are all survivors. We all have a story to tell.

Join me on May 15th for Yoga on the Steps for LBBC, as you practice yoga and meditation and feel your own authentic definition of your hero journey.

How do every day heroes think and act? Let’s grow this conversation. Please invite your friends and family to Yoga on the Steps. More than ever we need to see ourselves and others as heroes. Do heroes write love letters? To whom would you write?

Photo Credits: Paul Rider

Can’t wait to see you at Yoga on the Steps!

For more information on Yoga on the Steps, please visit

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Stereotypes and yoga

This entry was written by Christina Payne, LBBC's Marketing and Communications Intern:

Stereotypes are all around us. Yoga is an exercise that promotes physical and mental wellness for individuals of all races, religions and backgrounds; however, for the African-American community the practice of yoga is not always first choice of exercise even though yoga has healing benefits that have been proven to relieve stress. According to an article on, Namaste: Yoga in the Black Community, African-Americans seem to associate the meaning and purpose behind yoga with negative views and opinions. This mindset leads to a culture that doesn’t take advantage of exploring and enjoying the benefits associated with this form of exercise.

High-profile celebrity Russell Simmons practices this form of exercise and has said “Yoga has really helped me feel more comfortable with the idea of being present, the simpliest idea of spirituality, the power of now.” And according to Beyonce, “Every time I take a yoga class, I want to cry. I don’t know if it’s because I’m relaxing, or if it’s that by the end of the class, your body can do things it couldn’t do in the beginning, so you feel accomplished and emotional. It’s therapeutic.”

Yoga on the Steps - 2009
In America, yoga is viewed as a predominately White form of fitness. It is believed that yoga is very expensive and individuals with high incomes can only afford the classes. Reports have shown that there is in fact discrimination among African-American yoga teachers and black attendees. There is a stigma in the African-American community in regards to understanding in fact what yoga really is. In 2009, Wake Forest University released study data supporting the positive impact of yoga on the emotional health of women affected by breast cancer. Yoga can be performed by people of any age or physical condition—no prior experience is necessary.

The lack of knowledge leads to confusion and pushes people away from an exercise that is very beneficial to one’s health. Claims such as “yoga is a religion” or yoga teachers of color being mistaken for assistants or receptionists are a few discrepancies that belittle what yoga is and who is associated with it.

Although the stereotypes and stigmas exist, there has been a movement of growth toward a positive perspective that defines the African-American role in yoga. For example, there are many health issues such as, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease that affect the African-American community and the use of yoga can be of great use when it comes to maintaining good health, relieving stress, and balancing physical and mental strength.

Have you ever tried yoga? Can you admit that you’ve associated the healing exercise with some of the stereotypes listed above? Living Beyond Breast Cancer challenges you to try yoga with over 1,000 breast cancer supporters on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art on Sunday, May 15. For more information, visit The signature fundraising event encourages teams and individuals to raise money in support of LBBC’s educational programs for women and families affected by breast cancer. Register today!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Team Forever 25 Gives Hope

This entry was written by Colleen Kryka, one of the Team Captains of Forever 25: The White House Black Market Team:

After my breast cancer diagnosis, everything became possible. I got the mindset, “why not, what do I have to lose?” The timing was perfect because within days I received an email alert from LBBC that White House Black Market was holding a contest for 25 breast cancer survivors. What the heck, why not? So I wrote my essay, had my husband take a photo and “click,” off it went. Little did I know - that the click of the send button would really set my new path.

I was selected and joined 24 amazing women in New York City for a real-life glamorous photo shoot. We had the full “pit crew” working on us. We were treated like super models, not like mothers, daughters or sisters playing dress-up (even though we were!). We were all little girls again, with giant smiles. We were sexy, beautiful women…not sick, scared, and diagnosed patients. Our inner beauty came through the battered outer shells. Two days of this metamorphosis forever bonded 25 women who quite frankly never would have chosen this common bond, but amazingly found strength, comfort and POWER.

Collective energy can be quite healing. So for the next 4 months we emailed, facebooked, and chatted about our next gathering. So in October White House Black Market and LBBC gathered the 25 of us once again at the Butterfly Ball. We were long-lost sisters gabbing and admiring our beautiful selves all dressed up once again by WHBM. We all danced and laughed. What an evening it was. I never realized or even thought for a moment this would be the last time all of us would be able to gather and celebrate life!

Forever 25

Vivian Rivera was also selected to participate in the photo shoot. She sang a beautiful song during her WHBM interview and LBBC asked her to perform it at the Butterfly Ball. We gave her a standing ovation. Her self-written song, “Chosen” is the voice to all of us who are choosing to win during hard times. Within weeks we heard about Vivian’s illness. Lori Baur, who was also selected to participate in the photo shoot, rallied up all 24 of us to send support, and we did. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough. By January, Vivian, our gorgeous song bird, flew to heaven. She had left a mark, touched our hearts, but also challenged my thinking once again - THIS disease is real.

 Vivian Rivera leaves the crowd with a smile after performing "Chosen" at LBBC's Butterfly Ball 2010

Soon we stopped hearing as much from Lori. Although Vivian passed away from a rare brain cancer, her news was so real for Lori. Lori had been living with metastatic breast cancer for years. She and her husband went on their dream vacation to Hawaii. Very soon after their vacation, once again we got the devastating news that Lori’s breast cancer journey had come to an end.

 Lori Baur and her husband at LBBC's Butterfly Ball 2010

This disease sucks in so many ways, yet I have met and became friends with some of the most incredible women. How can something so bad bring such good? That question can’t be answered - it can only be lived. That’s when Denise, another WHBM babe, reached out to me about Yoga on the Steps. There would be no better way to honor Vivian and Lori than to move to action! So we formed Forever 25, The White House Black Market Team for this May’s Philadelphia Yoga on the Steps.

Boy! WHBM stepped up to the plate once again! They are matching our donations up to 10k, making us personalized t-shirts that we can sport day-of, and providing a never-ending supply of support! We can’t bring Lori and Vivian back, but we CAN keep their spirit and the energy of that magical WHBM campaign alive. We CAN give HOPE at the end of each day - HOPE that we will enjoy our son’s next baseball game, HOPE that we will feel beautiful and sexy, HOPE that we will do more than just…survive. HOPE that we will thrive, and just like Lori and Vivian, HOPE that we will touch others and make this journey a little easier for someone else.

See you at Yoga on the Steps.

Make a donation to the Forever 25: The White House Black Market Team! You can start fundraising today! Join a team, form a team or fundraise as an individual! If you have any questions, visit