Yoga on the Steps 2011 and Team Tri-County for a Cure – The Journey

Yesterday was my second trip to Yoga on the Steps in Philadelphia and was just as memorable as the first.

Last May I stumbled upon a link to the event on Facebook and on a whim went with two friends.  We were blown away and decided to create a team.  Because we live in Pottstown, a small community and a 45 minute drive (with no traffic) to Philadelphia we decided to open up the team to the tri-county area.

I’ve never done any team events or fundraising for a cause so this was all very new to me.  Carrie, Joy and I, the original three, decided to start with a grass roots approach to recruiting our team.  We called, Facebooked and e-mailed every local friend, family and yogi we knew.  I contacted other local yoga instructors and yoga studios to join in.   In the end we were 26 yogis strong including 8yoga instructors, myself and Maryann Fitzmeyer fromHigh Street Yoga, Dorian Able, Healing Yoga, Stephanie Smolik Yoga for Everybelly, Joanne Lins, Sara Riley, Pam Luton and Luan Liberatori recently certified Yoga instructor for the Deaf.

Creating a team, recruiting members, fundraising and communicating to the team, involved logistics and time. Thrown in with my three children and their sports and school schedules, a husband that travels A LOT, a massage therapy practice and a yoga studio, my life can get pretty busy.  But throughout it all I kept in mind the words of Abraham Hicks You cannot have a happy ending to a miserable journey.

Not sure where to begin or how to get started, Carrie, Joy and I each took on a task that we were each good at.  Joy, an artist and teacher, designed our amazing logo and team t-shirts.  Carrie created beautiful pink breast cancer/yoga inspired jewelry and donated proceeds of each piece to the team.  I taught Yoga for a Cure class accompanied by live harp music.  In the words of Carrie we ‘did what we love” The spirit of community and giving continued.  Team mates organized events including;   Hip Hip Hooray a Yoga Class taught by Dorian Able, Rita’s for a Cure and Special Sales of Angels and Hope at Kaleidoscope Angels where proceeds benefited the team. Our biggest and most amazing event was the video project created by Melia of Pricelss Moments by Melia.  The event created awareness and got the community involved.   The efforts of our team were recognized by LBBC as we were announced the team with the most Community Involvement and that was exactly my intention.

The morning of the event we met in the parking lot of the Coventry Mall and piled into 4 vans.  We picked up two more team mates in Collegeville and headed into Philadelphia.  For me it was exciting to share the experience with a group, many who had never been to Yoga on the Steps.  We arrived, registered, settled into our space and had enjoyed our happy ending to the wonderful journey.

The weather held out as we were instructed by Jennifer Schelter.  This year, 10 women shared their stories while we held yoga poses for up to 2 minutes.  I cried through each story and was inspired by the strength and courage of each woman.  I walked away once again with the reminder to live life to its fullest.

When it was time to leave I wasn’t really ready to end this journey.  We hugged at the museum and hugged again at the Coventry Mall.  New friendships were forged and plans made to attend other yoga events together.  My newsfeed on FB continues to show Tri-County friends connecting. I love seeing the new pictures uploaded and the video created by Anne.  I love the feeling of community and working together for one cause.

I look forward to many more years with Team Tri-County and Yoga on the Steps.  Thank you Living Beyond Breast Cancer for all the work that you do, for creating this event, for supporting our team and for answering all of my calls, e-mails and FB questions!

Namaste’

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Yoga/Breast Cancer Video ‘around Pottstown’

Over the past several months I have been busy with a yoga video project which began as a conversation in my morning yoga class.   In the midst of a 30 Day Yoga Challenge, a participant shared that she does Tree Pose in the grocery store while standing in line.   During prayer squat one day I shared a story about my husband traveling to Indonesia and noticing that people wait in line doing prayer squat.  This evolved into ‘wouldn’t it be fun to do yoga poses in random places around Pottstown and take pictures’

Throughout the long winter, during each class someone would comment or giggle about a certain pose we could do in a location in Pottstown.  We dreamed for spring to come and decided it would be our spring project.   Before long, the idea began to grow and evolve into raising awareness and funds for our Yoga team Tri-County for a Cure that is attending Yoga on the Steps on Sunday May 15th. Suddenly the project became much greater then ourselves and became something both fun and meaningful.

My good friend and the  most talented and creative person I know, Melia Rios-Lazo from Priceless Moments by Melia offered to donate her time and photography skills toward the project.  She was suffering the loss of a good friend that just passed away because from breast cancer and felt very drawn to the cause.

Fellow team mate, friend and owner of Hammi Jammi Jewlery and I hit the streets of Pottstown and scheduled Business Owners and Pottstown leaders for their photo shoot. After everyone stopped laughing about doing yoga, each agreed to try.  The support and enthusiasm was amazing.

We had 3 days scheduled for pictures and ended up adding on two more.  Fellow yogis’ from Pottstown and the surrounding areas joined us each day to help teach and join in with the pictures.  Most of the sessions were scheduled and we grabbed unsuspecting strangers along the way.  Each day of the filming was energizing, fun and powerful.  We quickly realized how many people knew someone that was affected by breast cancer.

Some of my favorite scenes include, waiting in line for the bus in prayer squat, because it is what sparked this whole crazy journey.  I had fun with the cab drivers, the mayor and the students at Montco. When I look at the pictures and the diversity of the people involved I am proud to live and work in Pottstown.  When I look at the picture at the farmers market I am so happy to see Daniel, the young Mennonite Farmer who joined us.  We had so much fun with the kids from the YWCA and the Pottstown Senior Center.  I can’t really sum up my favorite picture or moment.  I am just proud to have been a part of this great project.

I’ve watched the video at least 50 times and still laugh and cry each time.  Please take the time to watch it until the end.  I hope this video touches you too.   Click on the link to view.

Namaste’

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The Neti Pot ~ Allergy Relief? or Comic Relief?

I’ve taken a bit of a break from my blog recently, though not intentionally.  Springtime brings on new energy along with new activities for my children and it consumes a lot of time.  I’ve decided to re post something from my High Street Yoga Blog from last spring.  If you suffer from seasonal allergies you can appreciate this!

The Neti Pot is a household name thanks to Oprah and Dr. Oz. A Neti Pot can be found on the shelves of most health food stores, drug stores and even super stores. Most know it as a form of nasal irrigation, but, did you know that it has its roots in the yogic tradition? Historically Neti Pots were used in India to clear the nasal passages. Controlled breathing (pranayama) plays such and important roll in yoga.

A Neti Pot resembles a small tea pot or a gravy boat with a long spout. A saline solution is made of warm water and salt. The user stands over the sink, tips his head and pours the solution in one nostril while it flows out the other. The process is repeated on both sides.

I suffer from seasonal allergies and have used the Neti Pot for about two years. I appreciate the yogic tradition and enjoy some relief with out the use of over the counter medication. My kids are fascinated (and repulsed) by it. Last night my youngest son wanted to try it. He thought it was hilarious to watch himself in the mirror while he poured the water in one nostril and it came out the other! The last thing he said before going to bed was “the Neti Pot is fun”

Fun? That’s a whole new perspective on the Neti Pot. Allergy Relief? Or Comic Relief? In our house it’s both!

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Yoga on the Steps and Tri-County for a Cure

 

Last year, I came across a link on FB for an event in Philadelphia called Yoga on the Steps sponsored by Living beyond Breast Cancer. On a whim, two friends and I decided to go. We dug through our closets for pink shirts and headed into Philadelphia bright and early on a Sunday morning.  We didn’t know what we were getting into or how it would affect us. Over 1,000 yogis did yoga on the steps to raise awareness and funds for education and support for women and families affected by breast cancer. The event was powerful and one that changed me. Click here to read my post from last year.

Last year we learned that many yoga studios create teams to attend the event.  Most of the teams wear team shirts, sit together and raise funds together.  I knew I wanted to do the same thing and share the experience with as many people as I could.  One year later, the same two friends and I have created an amazing team called Tri-County for a Cure. We are a group of yoga enthusiasts from Berks, Chester and Montgomery Counties.  Over the past few months, we’ve created more then a ‘team’, we’ve created a spirit of unity and a sense community.

The team and cause is near and dear to my heart because my SIL is a breast cancer survivor and more recently a friend and fellow yogi was diagnosed with Breast Cancer.  Each and every one of us on the team has been affected directly or in-directly.

Since the creation of our team, everywhere I go, I meet survivors, family members of survivors and friends that have lost someone to this terrible disease.  Each person has a story and all have courage.

There are a variety of ways you can support the team; donate to the team by clicking here, join the team, by clicking on the same link and go to “join our team” or you can attend one of the events below.

Upcoming Events Include:

Heart Opening Yoga Workshop

Sunday March 20th 1-3

Location:  Prana Pottstown

For questions or information please email Pam at peacelotusyoga@gmail.com or call 610-283-1385 Suggested donation $20.

Yoga with Live Harp Music

Tuesday, March 29 · 7:00pm – 10:00pm

Location First Presbyterian Church 750 N.Evans St. Pottstown, PA

Join us for an evening of gentle Yoga accompanied by live harp music, tea, vendors, raffles and more! Remember to wear pink and all proceeds benefit Tri-County for a Cure a local yoga team participating in Yoga on the Steps Suggested Donation $20

Hip Hip Hooray RX for the hips and Low Back

Friday April 29th 7:30-9 pm

Location; Healing Yoga Douglassville Pa

Contact Dorian to reserve a space: 610-369-0831 or dorian@healingyogapa.com.

Ritas Pughtown

Monday May 2nd 6-9

Location 2323 Pottstown Pike

Pottstown, PA, 19465

Come to Ritas and Support our Team!  Proceeds of the night benefit Tri-County for a Cure!

Jewelry

Jewelry artist Carrie Grabowicz  of  Hammi Jammi Jewelry Is selling Breast Cancer bracelets and necklaces.  Click here to view her work and 15% of each piece will be donated to the team.

T-Shirt Sales

Tri-County for a cure T’s designed and created by Joy van Ruler are available for purchase.

Tri-County for a Cure; Be inspired, be part of team, help others and unite with fellow yogis

 

 

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Sand Mandala a Buddhist Symbol of Impermanence

Change is the only constant in life.  It can be inspiring, motivating, exhausting and scary. According to Buddhist practice, change or impermanence is the essential characteristic of all existence.  The Buddhists suggest that nothing is lasting, even in the moment everything is undergoing change.  All is fleeting, the beauty of a flower, the sunset the leaves on the trees are in a continuous state of change.  What is real is the existing moment, the present.

Mandala is a Sanskrit word for circle.  The sand Mandala is constructed as a vehicle to recognize impermanence, to develop concentration and compassion.  Millions of colored sand is placed on a platform over a period of days or even weeks.  Traditionally when finished to symbolize the impermanence of life, the sands are swept up and poured into an urn to be poured into a nearby river or stream.

Last week I had the privilege of seeing Tibetan Monks create a Sand  Mandala at Penn State Berks County in Reading Pa.  My son was home sick  that day, and since he did not have a fever I took him along. Driving to the event I felt disappointed that I didn’t have all three boys with me.  I realized that this was something special and a learning experience they wouldn’t find at school.  But I didn’t have the foresight so only had my one semi sick guy.

This was my first time on campus and we easily found the cafeteria.  There was a table outside with prayer beads, prayer flags, books and other items for sale. The Mandala was in a roped off area in the cafeteria.  There were 3 or 4 Monks working with focus when we arrived.  We watched as they tapped on metal tubes (Chak-pur) to create the lines.  Their work was intricate and beautiful.  They answered my questions happily and seemed quite at peace in the center of the loud student filled cafeteria.  Students stopped by to browse and my son and I got to experience something extraordinary.  I talked to him about the concept of impermanence and its something he understood.

When we were telling his brothers about the event, one of them asked “What did the Monks have on their feet?”  I thought this was an interesting question, but I guess they have the image in their mind of bald men in maroon robes in bare feet or sandals.   I hadn’t noticed, but Owen did.  He said “one guy had on nice shoes like Dad wears to work”    He noticed their feet, but I’m sure he noticed much more.  What an experience for an 11 year old and for me too!

Namaste’

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Fun Yoga Stuff

One of the things that I love about yoga is that you don’t need a lot of gear, no expensive equipment, shoes, or tools, only a mat.

Even though there isn’t a lot needed to DO yoga, there are still a lot of fun yoga accessories out there.  Recently I came across an amazing artist and yogi Kasha Ritter that makes purses and bags out of Yoga Mats!  I stumbled on her website and had to splurge.  Her bags are creative, fun and yes, flexible!  When the bag arrived in the mail I was so excited.  The packaging was beautiful.  Kasha wraps each bag and includes several special touches.  Inside the bag is a card that says Om Shanti and a card blessed by local monks.  She includes some other goodies, but I won’t spoil the fun.  Order one for yourself!

We’ve had a loooong winter in the north east. My feet are always freezing and I wait until the last possible minute to take off my socks in class.  I stumbled on these amazing cashmere toeless yoga socks on Etsy and they are genius!  They are warm, soft and hand made and they don’t have toes or heals.  Your feet can stay warm and you still can grip the mat!  I love my new socks!

For Christmas my husband got me this amazing Peacock  Yoga Mat.  I love it and I love that he thought of it.  He said he was glancing through my latest yoga journal magazine and saw the ads in the back, looked it up and ordered it.  I love that he thought of it just as much as I love my new mat.

Finally, a plug for my Yoga Team, Tri-County for a Cure; a group of local yogis are fundraising for an event in Philadelphia called Yoga on the Steps.  Its an event that attracts over 1,000 yogis each year and benefits the group Living Beyond Breast Cancer.  My friend and fellow yogi Carrie of Hammi Jammi Jewelry is creating necklaces and bracelets and 15% of the proceeds benefit the event.

Namaste’ and Happy Shopping!

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i love you, too

When my good friend and former neighbor Shannon sent me a request to “like’ her new page on Facebook “ i love you, too”   I was immediately intrigued. I clicked on the link to her web page and blog and was drawn to her story.  Her story began simply as an I love you too note stuck to her fridge and evolved into something far greater.

In yoga we teach students about heart centered awareness, and about sending thoughts of loving kindness to others.  We talk about interconnectedness and union.  But sometimes these feel like just words. Shannon was able to take the words “heart centered awareness’ and put them into something collective and tangible and accessible to everyone; not just words but action.

Take the time to read her story, check out the blog, like the FB page and be sure to print your “i love you, too” form and spread the love in your town! ~ Namaste’

 

It started with an i love you, too sign stuck to the front of my refrigerator with a magnet. It was meant to be a self-serve love note system for my kids- like finding a note in your lunchbox, but in a grab-it-when-you-need-it format.

That first sign went untouched on the fridge for several days.  Then one morning, I glanced at the sign and and it took my breath away. The i love you, too sign seemed to have metamorphosed from a message BY me into a message TO me. It was as if I could hear my grandma’s voice over the landline’s strained long distance connection greeting me from another decade, “I love you, too!” I was immediately overwhelmed with deep feelings of contentment, security, warmth and a huge smile. I pulled the first tab from the sign and tucked it into my purse as I went out the door.

In the days following, the remaining tabs were pulled.  One by one, the tabs became bookmarks, an “I’m sorry” after a cross word, a thank-you for a kind deed, or a good-bye token for a friend. Each tab invoked a different i love you, too sensation. One time it was a hug from my mom.  Other times the tab became a hope or a sweet nod from a friend.

Summer 2010 delivered adventures big and small.  Along with learning to surf, trying a new restaurant, and running to the highest point in the city I wrote on my summer “to try” list “post i love you, too signs”. I printed a stack of signs and kept them in the car, along with push pins and a roll of tape.  The i love you, too message quickly went renegade as we posted them around the city or places we visited.  Arriving a few minutes early to meet friends meant time to find the next i love you, too location. We’d secretly post the sign, giggle, and sneak away.  The experience was fun and unexpected – slightly magical.

One afternoon, I was driving alone in a sleepy beach town.  I parked in front of the only store in town and stepped on to the wood-planked porch. When my eyes glimpsed a community bulletin board with advertisements for local gigs and art shows, I returned to the car and grabbed an i love you, too sign.  I hung my sign up with a push pin left by a previous visitor.  I went in and bought a drink, returned to the porch a few minutes later, and noticed ONE OF THE TABS HAD BEEN PULLED.  I’d never seen an i love you, too tab go missing outside of my own kitchen.  My heart stopped.  No, my heart exploded.  Maybe my heart started singing.  I don’t know how to explain how my heart was working except that I’d never felt that feeling before.  Ecstatic? Amazed? If the English language has a word for how I felt, I do not know what it is. I glanced around the one block of Main Street, searching for who might have pulled the tab, but there was no one in sight. Someone had been on their way into the store as I was leaving – had that person pulled the tab? Had it been a man? A woman? A teen?

I walked the few steps to my car, sat down in the driver’s seat, left the door open and mused.  I felt like I was alive inside a Mary Oliver poem.  I could not stop wondering what the sign had meant to the one who pulled the tab.  What was the message for them?  What did they do with the tab? Where were they now?  Would they tell someone about it? Or was it the kind of message they would keep close?  Did they love this as much as I did, or was it just me? In these musing moments life felt more vivid.

It had never before occurred to me how others might experience the i love you, too sign.  It had simply felt good – truly good – to hang them up. It felt playful and fun. But, actually knowing that a stranger pulled a tab felt divine.

Near the end of the summer, a friend was in our kitchen and commented on the i love you, too sign on the refrigerator.  He then said, “You should start a website.”

The idea just wouldn’t disappear. It visited me as I fell asleep, drove carpool, worked out – the idea became my buddy and made its way on the ‘must do’ list.  My friend’s idea sparked a dream that I’m releasing into the universe – or at least into the World Wide Web – with this website.

 

I’m incredibly inspired by possibility.  So I wonder:  What is the collective effect of 100 people having their breath taken away?  Or of 200 people feeling hugged?  What is the ripple effect of giving small tabs of love, anonymously?  Just thinking about these possibilities makes my heart start to sing.

This is my Get love. Give love. story.

What’s yours?

And yes, i love you, too.

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