Yogapalooza: A day of yoga for cancer patients and survivors

CURE invited cancer survivor Jasan Zimmerman to share his experience from the annual Yogapalooza, an annual event that encourages cancer patients and survivors to practice yoga.National Cancer Survivor's Day is apparently 23 years old, but I didn't learn about it until three years ago. I'm always happy to celebrate survivorship, and I did just that this year at the third annual Yogapalooza. Yogapalooza is an annual fundraiser to support programs from Yoga Bear, a national non-profit organization dedicated to promoting more opportunities for wellness and healing for cancer patients and survivors through the practice of yoga. Yoga Bear's programs include work in studios, hospitals, and online. This year, Yogapalooza was held in Los Angeles, New York City, San Diego, and San Francisco, while also being streamed online. I've been on Yoga Bear's Board of Advisors for almost two years, and I look forward to the community yoga classes we offer. Yogapalooza is great because of the silent auction items, the festive atmosphere, and the opportunity to meet new Yoga Bear supporters. I attended the San Francisco event, and we had a full house at a beautiful studio, YogaWorks. The studio had vaulted ceilings with skylights that bathed the room in sunshine. June in San Francisco isn't always sunny, but we were lucky that the weather cooperated on National Cancer Survivor's Day. Before the classes started, I spoke with a woman who was recently diagnosed with thyroid cancer. She had surgery three weeks before, but she felt comfortable doing yoga with us that afternoon. Since I had thyroid cancer too, I was amazed at how resilient she was. I didn't have the heart to tell her it took me six months to attempt any physical activity besides walking from the couch to the refrigerator, and even then, I hit tennis balls for about five minutes before I ran out of energy. Those five minutes seemed like five hours. I'm 13 years out of my most recent treatment, so everything is a distant memory for me, but it's great to see new survivors taking their lives back after such a life-changing diagnosis.We were lucky to have three incredible teachers leading classes at this year's Yogapalooza, each with a different style and energy to share with us. The first two classes were challenging while the last one was gentle and restorative. We definitely earned the relaxation we had in the third class. The afternoon brought together yogis of varying levels of experience, both with yoga and cancer. It also helped raise awareness of Yoga Bear and the Healing Yoga Project, which seeks to expand yoga programs in hospitals across the United States. You can also check out the video that Brian Castellani of Yoganomics made of the day's events at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j8hsF7bmamc. See you at next year's Yogapalooza!