Yoga for Hope 2014
Tea with Michael Fukumura
Have you ever met someone and instantly felt that your life just became a little more complete? Well fortunately for me, I had tea with Michael Fukamura, prAna Yoga Ambassador, a few weeks after starting a new job at City of Hope.
I would be running Yoga for Hope, the largest yoga fundraiser in Southern California, and I needed to know if Michael would return as a featured instructor for our June 7th date. I will confess, I was a little nervous. Who was this man that could bend into pretzel like formations? Should I have brushed up on some Sanskrit terms prior to our meeting? I pushed those thoughts aside and sipped my green tea.
Michael’s knowledge of City of Hope was impressive: a medical research center that values the importance of mediation, integrative medicine and yoga as part of a patient’s treatment program. He knew that City of Hope offered yoga free of charge to all patients and their caregivers. We went on to talk about family, illness, loss and ultimately the heart center. Michael noted that at Yoga for Hope, “There is a tangible and unmistakable surging of energy that revitalizes the heart connection.” And I thought to myself, so it isn’t just me that feels this after attending Yoga for Hope?!
You see, I came to work for City of Hope via my own cancer diagnosis. I was 27 when I was told I had a 40% chance of living 5 years. Facing my own mortality and desperately seeking a way to calm my mind, I uncovered yoga. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would do yoga. I thought yoga was for smelly hippies, fitness buffs and pretzel-like flexible people like Michael, defiantly not someone like me. Well, it was for me. I soon learned, yoga did not have any pre-qualifications. I was able to settle my mind, connect with my body and ease my suffering. I had four breast surgeries and surgery to remove my stomach tissue and muscle. My body had a pretty interesting story to tell during yoga. Some days it shouted that narrative, other days whispered it to me. I loved being able to reconnect myself to my body. I decided to tune in and turn up the volume. I also decided to honor myself by practicing yoga every day.
“Every person, whether wavering inside or very steadfast is honored” Michael says with regard to Yoga for Hope.
I am emotional each year that I attend Yoga for Hope. I think of those I have lost but more importantly, I’m overwhelmed with the support that is provided at the event. The 1,000 other people joining me on the field to raise awareness of the importance of yoga for patients makes my heart smile and instills a sense of hope. Michael feels the same and said, “I keep returning to this event because it is a very potent way of remembering the source of support within and all around, especially when there is so much suffering. Being in the company of so many yogis who gather together with a shared intention of connecting and expressing their best, powerfully raises the vibration of the entire collective. Just by showing up, each yogi is declaring that he/she stands up for each other and for a vision of hope.” Our meeting ended with a big hug and I walked away with a full heart and genuine excitement for the opportunities ahead. Michael truly lives his yoga as I aspire to live mine. Join Michael and I at Yoga for Hope on June 7th at Petco Park.
prAna is a proud sponsor of the fourth annual Yoga for Hope. Yoga for Hope is a collective of San Diego’s premier yoga studios and approximately 1,000 health conscience people uniting to raise funds for cancer research & raise awareness of the benefits of yoga for patients with life-threatening illnesses. From its inception, Yoga for Hope has raised more than $200,000 and united thousands of yogis and dozens of studios to raise vital funds to aid City of Hope doctors and researchers with offering exceptional patient care, innovative science and translational research.
The 2014 Yoga for Hope Top Fundraiser will be presented with the Dino Flacco Award on stage and have the opportunity to win mindfully made yoga goods from prAna, a Yellowstone & Yoga Big Sky Yoga Retreat, or throw out the first pitch at the June 8th Padres game vs. the Washington Nationals.
~ Amanda Nixon, Assistant Director of Philanthropy
Photos by Epic PhotoJournalism