Registration is now open for Yoga on the Steps: Philadelphia, Living Beyond Breast Cancer's signature education and fundraising event, scheduled to take place rain or shine beginning at 8:30 a.m. Sunday, May 18, on the iconic steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
The highlight of the event is a one-hour yoga class for all ages and skill levels designed and led by Jennifer Schelter, MFA, co-founder of the event, yoga instructor and leader of Mindful Strategies for Living.
Yvette Pecoraro will provide kirtan accompaniment along with other local area musicians. After the class, participants can enjoy refreshments while visiting a Healthy Living Expo where event sponsors, local area businesses, yoga studios and nonprofit organizations will feature products and services promoting health and wellness.
“While Yoga on the Steps is similar to other nonprofit grassroots fundraisers, it really is a one-of-a-kind event,” explains Sandy Martin, LBBC’s vice president of advancement. “People are asked to register as a team captain or participant at yogaonthesteps.org and then fundraise for LBBC by asking family, friends and colleagues for donations. But instead of using a walk or run as our event’s centerpiece, we feature a yoga class. Jennifer has designed the class so that anyone, regardless of skill level or body type, can participate. Yoga on the Steps is a unique and powerful education program in its promotion of yoga as an important part of a person’s overall wellness plan.”
What has grown into Philadelphia’s largest outdoor yoga class began after Jennifer's friend and student, Courtney Kapp, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Courtney wanted to use her home as a place where women with the disease could form a support network through the practice of yoga. She asked Jennifer to teach the class and also introduced her to LBBC’s executive director (now chief executive officer) Jean Sachs, MSS, MLSP. Together, the three women founded Yoga on the Steps.
“Now,” says Jean, “thousands of people, most with no formal training, annually attend Yoga on the Steps to raise awareness of LBBC’s resources, stand in solidarity with women diagnosed with breast cancer and honor the memories of those who are no longer with us.”
Studies indicate a correlation between yoga’s stretching exercises, controlled breathing and relaxation techniques and stress reduction, lower blood pressure and improved heart function. “More and more studies we’ve been seeing, especially over the last few years, really confirm the relevance of Yoga on the Steps,” Jean says.
A study conducted by UCLA researchers suggests that yoga can help women overcome post-treatment fatigue, which is estimated to affect as many as one-third of women currently in breast cancer treatment. The research, which was published December 16, 2011, in the journal Cancer, discovered that after three months of twice-weekly yoga classes, a group of women diagnosed with breast cancer in California reported significantly diminished fatigue and increased vigor.
In addition, at the 34th Annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium held in 2011, a study presented findings that women living with metastatic breast cancer might also benefit from practicing yoga. A small, randomized trial was collaboratively conducted by yogis and physicians, including S.K. Gopinath, MD, from the department of surgical, medical and radiation oncology at the HCG-BIO Super Specialty Center in Bangalore, Karnataka, India. The researchers found data that suggest the practice of yoga might reduce psychological distress and modulate abnormal cortisol levels as well as immune responses in those with stage IV disease.
In 2011, LBBC began implementing a national Yoga on the Steps expansion initiative developed by the organization’s board of directors and senior staff as part of LBBC’s 2011-2015 strategic plan.
“Yoga on the Steps is a low-cost, high-return way to introduce LBBC resources to communities that may not know of their availability," explains Jean. “Since then, we’ve established events in Denver, Colo. and Kansas City, Mo. This year we’re also expanding our educational programming to these cities by hosting community meetings on various breast cancer topics, giving more individuals the opportunity to access trusted breast cancer information.”
“The increasing popularity of yoga is a big factor in the growing success of the event,” she continues. “But more than that, it’s LBBC’s reputation of sound fiscal management and the trust our supporters have in us that energizes Yoga on the Steps participants to fundraise for LBBC at the grassroots level. We maintain the lowest overhead possible for the event ensuring our resources are always available to anyone in need.”
Yoga on the Steps: Philadelphia is made possible by Independence Blue Cross and Genentech, two of the event’s national partners. Businesses wanting to learn more about national and local sponsorship opportunities and benefits are asked to contact LBBC’s associate director of marketing and corporate relations, Kevin Gianotto, at firstname.lastname@example.org. General Yoga on the Steps and Healthy Living Expo questions should be directed to Brittaney Shade at email@example.com.