Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Rockstars of Yoga

This entry was written by Randi Rentz. Randi is an individual fundraiser for Yoga on the Steps:

If you remember theY2K Revolution and fear of your computer exploding when we made it to the year, 2000, you probably remember the sudden increase in the new yoga craze, too. The yoga revolution isn’t like the '50s, where you might remember those machines where you flung a big strap around your butt, flipped a switch and jiggled away all your self-esteem. Guess what? The new century brought us a hip way to get fit that is thousands of years old. In fact, yoga is such the rage, it’s been sexified with tres chic language. Who knew that I would need a yoga dictionary to decipher words such as Bikram, Chaka and Vinyasa. I thought I was reading first names of new” rock stars,” like Cher and Madonna, not practices for purifying the soul.

Aiming to tone, firm and beautify your body, mind and soul, the so-called power of yoga workouts are knocking kickboxing out of the ring. Tired, old aerobic routines just don't measure up. (Seriously, have you ever seen Gisele Bundchen at LA Fitness?)

Celebs like Sheryl Crow, Jennifer Anniston and Jenny McCarthy have all given the yoga workout their star-studded seal of approval.

But do they work for regular people; especially people who have had breast cancer? You know, the moderately chunky (from steroids, chemo or Tamoxifen), 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60—somethings? Unable to find my groove at the gym, I was in search of something new, something to lift my spirits. I thought I would rather be waterboarded than do another spin class or the elliptical machine for 45 minutes, yet again.

I decided to live like a celebrity and try out yoga for a month to see if it did anything for me.

Luckily, I live in Philadelphia, so I didn't have to look far to find a studio that suited my needs. The one I chose was just a hop-skip from my house, so I couldn't wait to get my “stretch on” and spiritually moving. I met with “Raj,” the owner, and he walked me through the process, explaining the benefits of this type of ancient workout regime.

According to Raj, yoga goes well beyond toning and firming muscle. It also has been shown to:
• improve bone density

• accelerate weight loss

• reduce cellulite

• improve blood circulation

• decrease physical and emotional stress

• improve balance, equilibrium and dexterity

He had me at "reduces cellulite." I went to a sporting goods store to purchase my first yoga mat and water bottle. While I was at it, I purchased cute yoga outfits, too. Always a thrilling task.

Then I got a free personal training session which is a perk for any new yoga-want-to be at this studio. My trainer told me he would create a routine for me that would intrinsically help me relieve stress and worry, while at the same time learning to live in the moment, which is a major benefit for cancer patients -- and I was off. Yoga literally rocked my world. My whole body quivered and shook, and I swear I grew an inch. My lymphatic circulation was improving by the minute, as well as the continuous pain in my surgical area.

But I was determined to do more, where I squatted, lunged, pliƩ'd, push-upped and planked my way into a major sweat.

This is why Jennifer Aniston's arms are so amazing. It was one tough workout!

After 30 days, I'm stronger, relaxed and mentally acute. But while I'm not Jennifer Anniston by a long stretch, I worked out like her for a month and feel much closer to her than I ever did before.

My conclusion about yoga is this: It's fun, it's easy, and it's up to you to decide how hard you want to make it. The best part is that I wasn't stuck doing it at some clanky meat-market gym. Serenity awaited me every time I walked through the studio.

So, if you want to exercise like Jennifer (and me), give yoga a try. And if you happen to live in Philadelphia, you could always do it at my studio. Just ask for Raj. Tell him Randi sent you.

It's not too late to make a donation for Yoga on the Steps! Our fundraising goal is $250,000. Will you help us reach our goal? We're 75 percent to our goal!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

I support Yoga on the Steps because of what LBBC stands for

This entry was written by Kelly Stipa. This will be Kelly's first year participating in Yoga on the Steps:

I first learned about Living Beyond Breast Cancer from one of my best friends, Gina. For the past 4 years, I’ve participated in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure and did a lot of fundraising, but after taking the time to research and learn about LBBC, I decided to become a part of Gina’s team, the 2nd Base Brigade, and fundraise for Yoga on the Steps.

Gina and I have a very close friendship, and one thing we have in common is that someone in our lives has lived with breast cancer. Gina’s mom, Susan, is currently living with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer and both my grandmothers, Betty and Ann, fought this disease for years. My grandmother on my Dad’s side was diagnosed in 1979 and immediately had a mastectomy on her right breast. She lived a healthy life for another 25 years. My Grandmother on my Mom’s side had a different type breast cancer, and she struggled for quite a long time, which also ended with a mastectomy but 10 years later she is going strong!

When you have a family member so close to you living with breast cancer, you want to do anything you can to help them. I really love what LBBC stands for, and how 84 cents of every dollar donated goes towards education. That is almost 85%! Over the years, we’ve all donated toward research for a cure, which is something we all desperately want to find, but I’ve learned that helping to educate and improve a person’s quality of life is just as important.

In all honesty, I’ve never been a fan of yoga….at all!! In fact, Gina and I love to walk and jog every morning in our neighborhood. We do 3 miles a day faithfully. That’s one of the ways we keep ourselves healthy. But after seeing pictures from last year’s event, and hearing Gina and Susan talk about how fun and important this day is, I wanted to be a part of it with them. This will be my first time participating in an LBBC fundraising event, and I’m excited to experience it with people I love and support.

I am one of only two new members of the 2nd Base Brigade, and I’m so happy I decided to join them for Yoga on the Steps. After making phone calls, sending out emails and text messages, I’m proud to say I’ve helped our team to meet our goal of $1500, and my donations keep coming in! I’m not going to stop until I hit my personal goal of $500. Heck…let’s make it $600!

Gina (or Twin - which is our nickname for each other), and I are known for being silly and having a good time, but there are moments when we bond over the serious things that affect our lives. Gina has talked at length about how LBBC has helped her mom over the past couple years, and she is forever grateful to them. She believes this organization is what has helped Susan to stay optimistic, and continue to live a positive and exciting life. That is what we both want for ourselves if either one of us ever has to struggle with this disease personally.

 Kelly (right) with her best friend, Gina (left).

In support of my grandmothers, Susan, and for all the other mothers, sisters, daughters, aunts and girlfriends that are affected by this terrible disease, I hope my fundraising efforts will help to educate these very special people living beyond breast cancer.

Do you have a special reason to fundraise? Register for Yoga on the Steps today! There is a minimum donation of $50 required for each participant to participate in the class and the event.