Think of the practice of yoga as the practice of life. Strength, focus, humility, openness, bravery, humor, patience. All these attributes are necessary for, and are cultivated by, the practice of yoga. They also happen to be incredibly helpful in navigating the evolving landscape of our everyday lives.
As Amy Hope-Gentry, one of Flow Yoga’s many insightful instructors, said following a recent practice: “… off your mat—that’s where the real yoga begins.” Bringing a sense of calm mindfulness to our day-to-day lives is difficult under ideal circumstances. It’s when life presents the toughest of challenges that those aforementioned qualities become emergency rafts in a sea of uncertainty.
Suzy Powell, another on Flow’s roster of teachers, knows something about life’s challenges. In March 2012, Powell was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma in her right breast, slightly more than a month after completing an intense yoga training program. “I was feeling the best I have felt in years,” she said. “And, boom! Out of nowhere, I had breast cancer. I was devastated.”
During the days, weeks and months that followed Powell’s double mastectomy, practicing the yoga of which Hope-Gentry speaks—that takes place “off the mat” and out in the world—helped Powell heal, both inside and out.
Featuring area health care providers, yoga classes, discussion and a silent auction/happy hour cocktail reception. Admission is donation-based, with all proceeds benefitting Loudoun County breast and ovarian cancer charities.
Saturday, Sept. 24, Flow Yoga hopes to illuminate how yoga, as a complementary practice to increase one’s well-being, can support individuals whose lives have been touched by breast or ovarian cancer. The Breast and Ovarian Cancer Open House features cancer awareness advocates from local health care providers, representatives of local businesses, survivors, caregivers, family and friends for an afternoon of learning and self-care. The open house is a dotation-based event, with all proceeds benefitting Loudoun County breast and ovarian cancer charities.
Breathe—There’s Something for Everyone
Set for 1-7 p.m. Sept. 24, Flow’s open house will feature presentations and discussions with representatives from Life with Cancer and Loudoun Breast Health Network, as well as information from massage, chiropractic and alternative health care providers. Instructors from Flow Yoga will provide gentle, restorative yoga classes, meditation, energy work and massage. The event will culminate with a happy hour cocktail mixer and silent auction, with items donated from Best Rack Around, Lindsay’s Salon and many other local businesses.
A loose schedule means visitors are welcome to wander in and out of the Leesburg studio as they wish, dipping in for a class here, a discussion there. Instructors have taken care to include approachable classes so that anyone, regardless of their experience level, can begin to explore the benefits of yoga. Open house participants are still being added and activities finalized—organizers suggest checking Flow’s Facebook page or Twitter feed for the latest updates.
And, if Saturday presents a scheduling challenge, Flow Yoga instructor Chris Oemler, who is spearheading the open house, will offer a special outdoor practice from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 25, at Stone Tower Winery near Leesburg. The all-levels practice serves as an energizing follow-up to the open house, as well as a memorial celebration for loved ones who have been lost, are currently suffering, or who have survived cancer. Admission will once again be donation-based, with proceeds benefitting breast and ovarian cancer charities.
Everyone Can Benefit
As Powell can attest, the positive effects of a regular yoga practice are wide and varied for someone diagnosed with cancer, but the practice can also be transformative for caregivers and loved ones. It is often during times of greatest anguish and stress that healthful habits fall by the wayside, and damaging thought patterns threaten to take over the mind. Flow’s Open House aims to remind visitors that mindful breathing, community support and attention to self-care are critical elements of well-being, regardless of one’s status as a cancer sufferer, survivor, caregiver or family member.
“Yoga meets you where you are—you have to just take that first step and then keep going,” Powell said. “Yoga is just like life. Some days you are a freaking warrior. And some days the practice sucks. It’s what you do after that really counts. It’s how it changes you inside that matters most.”
Flow Yoga Breast and Ovarian Cancer Open House
1 p.m.-7 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 24
Flow Yoga Leesburg studio, 112 South St. SE