On July 19, Yoga for Hope, a one-of-a-kind annual fundraising event took place at St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral on Capitol Hill. The fundraiser, organized by City of Hope, marked yet another mesmerizing event in support of cancer research and the fight against life-threatening diseases.

As the space filled up with yogis, one could instantly feel the powerful energy in the cathedral.

June Kerr, who attended the event, thinks of herself as a stretcher, not necessarily a yoga practitioner, but someone who supports the efforts of the cause completely.

“I think this is remarkable in bringing people together to share what often is a private experience,” she said. “You stretch not only your body, but also your mind and spirit.”

Norma J. Morris, the regional director of the northwest region of City of Hope, opened the evening by sharing her gratitude to those who support not only the event, but also the work that they do across 41 comprehensive cancer centers in the U.S.

Kris Rookie, a two-time cancer survivor, also spoke about her experience, sharing her story while emphasizing the importance of early detection and the acknowledgement of your body’s signs.

But before the yoga practice began something very interesting happened. There was a conversation without anyone talking. The participants were given a small bell to hold onto until a series of questions were asked. If the answer was yes, you were to keep ringing the soft-sounding bell until the questions stopped. The first question asked was: “Are you currently fighting cancer, or are you in remission?”

“Please start ringing your bell and do not stop.”

You could hear the quiet bell sounds traveling from far away. When the sound reached you, you could instantly feel the particular emotion carried within that sound. The next question addressed the past: “Have you lost someone to cancer?” The bells multiplied, as the echo of the cathedral transformed into something beautiful, not identifiable.

During the opening of the event participants were also asked to turn to the person next to them and to share the reason that brought them here. After a moment you could see people talking, hugging and some, sharing a tear.

Rob and Melissa Lundsgard played soft Kirtan music, the ancient tradition of devotional chanting, which gave the practice yet another dimension.

Different instructors, who flawlessly taught the practice, led the evening. There were also yoga professionals, off the podium, who walked around and provided help to practitioners.

At the end of the practice everyone made a chain of hugs, they moved closer to the podium and everyone sang a song together led by Rob and Melissa. Finally, there was silence, and then there was a big shout symbolizing the many layers of support, gratitude and love.

Lisa Black, who was one of the instructors, finished the event on an encouraging note:

“Angels,” she said, “know that you do have an impact” and that your effort really matters.


For larger size images from the event, we invite you to visit the photo album on our Facebook page.

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