Several weeks ago I stumbled on a link to Yoga Unites Living beyond Breast Cancer; a Yoga event in Philadelphia on the steps of the Art Museum. Yogi’s meeting for one cause intrigued me. I posted the link on Facebook and got two brave friends to join me bright and early on a Sunday morning to meet over 1,000 other yoga enthusiasts on the steps of the art gallery, for one cause, one heart and one energy. The event touched me and I posted my reflections immediately after on my blog.
After returning from the event I mulled over and over in my mind how powerful the energy and the experience was for me. I felt strongly about creating a yoga event for a cause in Pottstown but on a smaller scale. I knew I wanted to reach out to Jennifer Schelter, director of Yoga Unites and find out what inspired her to start the first class on the steps of the art museum, how the event evolved and grew and some nuts and bolts questions about organizing and arranging volunteers and time spent preparing for the event.
After Talking to Jennifer it’s easy to see why the event is so successful. Jennifer’s’ belief in the emotional and spiritual component of yoga combined with knowledge of asana and leadership are a perfect combination that’s allowed her to share her passion and help a major fundraising effort for Living beyond Breast Cancer.
The idea of sharing yoga with over 1,000 people came to Jennifer one day when she was in a hard place in her life and practicing yoga on the steps of the art museum. During her practice she felt an overwhelming feeling of positive energy and an affirmation of life. She wondered to herself how it would feel to share the experience with a thousand people. During the same time frame she was enrolled in a course at Landmark Education called “Self-Expression and Leadership Program”. She realized that yoga, her passion and profession, could be used as a way to heal, empower and create community, both as its own non-profit and in partnership with other non-profits.
On Dec. 2, 2001 the first Yoga Unites event was held. Yoga Unites partnered with the Anti-Violence Partnership of Philadelphia. 200 people attended the event and it was a great success.
Two years later a women with breast cancer asked Jennifer to practice yoga at her home. People met together to do yoga and contribute to her health. After healing and surviving the student felt inspired by the healing benefits of yoga and suggested Jennifer take her idea of Yoga Unites to Living beyond Breast Cancer and offer the large scale class on the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum as Jennifer had once dreamed.
Living beyond Breast Cancer embraced the idea and promoted the first event with a brochure and flyer. They helped unite the yoga studios in Philadelphia and have a staff that promotes and organizes the event. Rain or Shine for seven years yogis have been meeting to support breast cancer.
Jennifer prepares for the class by planning and being guided by intuition and always dedicates the day to the women she knows with breast cancer. Her initial vision was for 1,000 people. She hit that this year, and in her words “Look what happens when you stick with something….”
I’m planning my first Yoga for the Cure class to be held on Friday June 25th 2010. The class is a fundraiser for a student participating in the 3 day walk for the cure. The evening will begin with gentle Yoga accompanied by live harp music, followed by tea, coffee, pink desserts and giveaways. The evening was inspired by the Yoga Unites event.
The mission of Yoga Unites is
“To inspire individuals and engage communities by nurturing creativity and wellbeing through the transformative power of yoga.”