Over the long weekend I got a sneak peek inside a new charity event coming to Baltimore, tying the power of breath in yoga to the fight against lung cancer. This August, the nonprofit organization Free to Breathe will be hosting the Baltimore Free to Breathe Yogathon, the first ever endurance yoga festival, to build awareness of this terrible disease and support their mission of ensuring surviving lung cancer is the expectation, not the exception. Specifically, Free to Breathe is working to DOUBLE lung cancer survival by 2022.
So you might be wondering “what exactly is an endurance yoga festival” and how does this actually result in changing the statistics of lung cancer survival?!
Great question! Free to Breathe will be partnering with local yoga studios and all-star instructors to create an 8 hour program held at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore. I’ve been helping with this, so I can assure you it truly will be an awesome — varied lineup of everything from restorative yoga to vinyasa flow, and maybe even some meditation mixed in!
Participants will be encouraged to register in teams of up to 8 people, with the intent of having at least one team member practicing yoga throughout the entire event (but you can choose to practice for as much of the day as you’d like). PLUS Free to Breathe will be working with local partners to host various “training” classes in the months leading up to the big event to help you develop strength and endurance to practice longer than your typical 60 – 90 minute class!
When you’re not actively practicing, there will be tons of vendors and on-site activities to help keep you entertained while supporting your teammates, including acro and aerial yoga demonstrations, an Inspiration Station, guided meditation and memorial sanctuary, live music, a Wellness Area, healthy food to keep you fueled and sustained, and much, much more! One thing I really love is that there will a dedicated Survivor Retreat area where you can talk and connect with individuals and their families affected by lung cancer, along with a more gentle sequence included in the 8 hours so that those who’s strength is compromised by the disease can still participate.
I’m in! How do I register and what is the fundraising commitment?
Awesome! Registration is now open and it is my hope that we will have several BMOREtoned teams participate! The fundraising minimum is $1,200 per team, which I know sounds intimidating, but remember teams can be up to 8 people, and the $50 per person registration fee goes towards that minimum. (So if you have 8 people on your team by the time everyone registers that breaks down to just $100 of fundraising per person!)
Free to Breathe has a lot of great resources to support you in your fundraising, and I speak from experience (I’ve participated in several races with Team in Training benefiting the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society over the years by fundraising myself) when I say that this goal is very doable, without having to beg your friends and family for money! I’m happy to connect to talk about creative ways to meet this minimum, and will be hosting some donation-based barre classes to fundraise myself, so hopefully you can join for one of those as well!
I’m not able to participate in the actual event on August 21, 2016 but am still interested in supporting Free to Breathe! What can I do?
Seeing as this is the first event of its kind, there is a TON to be accomplished, both leading up to the big event and on event day itself! Everything from sponsorship/partnership recruitment, vendor/exhibitor recruitment, promoting on social media, connecting with local cancer centers/hospitals and then actually helping out at the event with logistics, registration, bag check, taking donations, set up/break down, etc.! We just had the first committee meeting over the weekend, so believe me there is still PLENTY of time to get involved. If you’d like to do so, please feel free to send me an email at annetruax(at)gmail(dot)com and I can connect you with my point of contact at Free to Breathe!
On a more personal note, for those of you who know me, you know cancer has unfortunately been a huge part of my life. I lost my Mom very suddenly to stage 4 lung cancer that spread to her brain in March of 2012. While it’s been almost 4 years since she’s passed away, I still wonder what I could have done differently and place a lot of blame on myself – if she really had been THAT sick, how could I not have noticed? Maybe if we had brought her to Baltimore to be treated at Hopkins, she would have survived? How the hell could her prognosis go from 1 year to 1 month?
I can honestly say exercise in general, but especially yoga, continues to help me through the grieving process by quieting these voices in my head, allowing me a safe place to focus on my healing, and connect with my mom all while sweating and building strength. There have been several times I’ve found myself quietly crying in savasana, a very vulnerable pose, when the instructor has played one of my mom’s favorite songs or when a memory came to mind. The fact that Free to Breathe is directly connecting the power of your breath in yoga with fundraising to help prevent other families from suffering this kind of unimaginable loss is truly incredible. It is a reminder to me that everything happens for a reason and that I’m meant to travel this path. Learning about this event and getting behind it has finally made me feel less helpless, and is satisfying my need to actually DO something about it.
Would greatly appreciate your support in making this first Baltimore Free to Breathe Yogathon a huge success!