My first experience with outdoor yoga was in the library courtyard over two years ago. When the opportunity to get some fresh air and support cancer research came across my Facebook feed recently, I jumped at the opportunity. What better way to break out of the confines of four walls than by practicing yoga with the incomparable Gabrielle Blachely for a great cause?
Why Yoga for a Cure happened
According to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, as of 2017, there were an estimated 363,794 people living with or in remission from leukemia and 816,634 people living with or in remission from lymphoma. The LLS projected that blood cancer would account for an estimated 10.2% of all cancer diagnoses in the US in 2017.
I think all of us would be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn't been affected by cancer, but those numbers are still staggering to me. Yoga for a Cure raised awareness and funds that will be vital for conducting life-saving research.
Coming together for the greater good
The cost of our tickets not only helped support cancer research, it also gave us the chance to reflect. I can't speak for the other yogis and yoginis, but as I practiced, I couldn't help but think about the people in my life who have been affected by cancer. If only love by itself could be enough to heal people...
The feeling of the sun on my skin and the wet grass under my feet reminded me of how alive we are and how temporary this human experience is. (You know there must have been some yoga magic at work that day because normally I find the feeling of wet grass under my feet to be very cringe-worthy.)
Any day when we can move and breathe is a good day. When we are able, it's so important to look out for those who can't move or breathe so well. Alone we can't fix the world's problems, but we can manage our own responses to adversity and practice compassion. We can't afford to pay for all the science needed to put an end to cancer, but we can show up on our mats to make a difference in our own way.
San Diego businesses supported the cause
After an invigorating, barrier-busting, heart-opening flow class with Gabrielle, we had the opportunity to do a short meditation workshop with Missy Lopez. In addition to the yoga and meditation portions of the day, a few awesome businesses also came out to add a little local flavor to the event. Rickaroons, maker of coconut energy bars, and Karuna Towels were among the vendors present that day. Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to speak with them, but they're two companies making high-quality products and working toward the greater good.
Of all the vendors, my personal favorite that day was Perspective Fitwear. They're a military-owned business that specializes in making women's athletic apparel. Their company checked off all the boxes for me when it comes to conscientious buying: made in the USA, high quality, sustainably-produced, military-friendly, and comfortable. I've worn the shirt I bought a ridiculous number of times already, and I don't see that changing any time soon.
Also, a big shout out to the SDGE/ Sempra Energy team for putting it all together and the many yogis from different communities who showed up. There were cool swag bags, opportunity drawings for great prizes, and lots of snacks. (They even had Nooma, which was the post-vinyasa rehydration I didn't know I needed.) All that attention to detail made the day even more special.
The work is far from over
Spending a mindful Saturday morning with a bunch of motivated and caring people was an inspiring way to kick off the weekend. Yoga for a Cure is just one of several opportunities to raise awareness and money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. The organizers of this amazing outdoor yoga event also have a team raising funds and participating in the Light the Night walk. That's happening November 3, 2018, at Waterfront Park in San Diego. You can learn more or donate to the SDGE team via this webpage.
After spending my morning at the Yoga for a Cure event, I realized I need to do more outdoor yoga and more yoga events in general. I spend long stretches of my days cooped up in my office at a desk. There was something so freeing about feeling the elements as I practiced. Don't be afraid to take your yoga outside and off the mat. You won't save the world alone, but you might be able to make a positive change.
Have you ever participated in an athletic event for a cause? Tell me about it in the comments below.