On Saturday, July 21, 2018, I experienced the power of the quote, "Together we are stronger." As a corporate wellness provider, I was asked earlier this year to teach a yoga class for members of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) who were holding their annual conference in Miami. A beautiful gift came from this experience as a fellow cancer survivor, Pilar Portela-Webb, a co-chair for the conference, presented an idea. Having been newly diagnosed with breast cancer, Pilar also wanted to give back to fellow breast cancer survivors. Not only did she become a student of my Miami Yoga for Cancer Program (Y4C), but an idea soon took off and the yoga class offered for the NAHJ turned into a fundraiser for my Miami Yoga 4 Cancer programming.
My Y4C group has slowly been growing, but like anything in Miami, there are expenses for space, equipment and advertising. Not to mention, there is the reality that some individuals who can benefit find it hard to afford such treatment modalities when also paying for other necessary cancer-related treatments. While the goal of this fundraiser was to educate Pilar's peers of the importance of yoga and meditation for healing and general wellness, but it also provided an opportunity to raise donations for scholarships to provide supportive resources for individuals in Miami to benefit from Y4C classes.
The day began early at the InterContinental Hotel in Miami. The weather was already reaching into the 90s, but as the sun began to lift, so did the spirit of several participants and volunteers. The practice began with a short meditation and connection with breath and continued into a Vinyasa practice with a theme of gratitude. The notion was that we meet our bodies where they are at and explored the gits in our lives. There were many supportive participants who benefitted from a personal practice on this day, and we also came to honor Pilar their NAHJ peer who continued to work and help coordinate the conference while undergoing cancer treatments. The event took on an energy of its own as the commemorative NAHJ yoga mats and bags were handed out to people who met a minimum donation. Not to mention, local vendors were glad to provide refreshments for the day. The Florida Dairy Farmers provided smoothies for participants along with giving out a “Mooga” Yoga Poster and providing other goodies. Forto Coffee donated an energy expresso drink, KAMSA beverages personally came out to give samples of their hydration beverages, and Hydrogen Water sent pouches of HTWO for participants to stay hydrated.
Donations made to the class will now help to pay it forward and ensure classes continue, while some scholarships are provided for individuals who might otherwise be unable to afford classes out of pocket. The event also educated participants on Y4C, and now they can potentially mention to fellow survivors the importance of yoga for healing.
They say when you begin to help others you have begun to reach a deeper state of healing. If this is true, maybe that explains the joy I have found helping others with their healing by using meditation and yoga, along with supporting my student Pilar in her process of healing. May we all find a way to lift ourselves while lifting others.