Hi Yoga Bear Readers! It is a happy Friday here in sunny southern California and I realized today that I failed to introduce myself to you. My name is Jesica Eastman and I love yoga. I have been a regular contributor to this blog for about six weeks, covering interviews of fascinating and inspiring individuals. I appreciate all those that have shared their stories; it is my hope that in sharing we can all feel less alone. This week I would like to share my story.
I walked into my very first yoga class when I was seventeen-years-old and had just moved from my parents sprawling home in southern California to a cramped dorm room at Boise State University in Idaho. I didn’t know a soul, but was determined to find myself. My path led to the brand new resident recreation building where, in an effort to keep freshmen fit, offered free yoga classes. During my first semester, I was overcome with homesickness, culture shock (Idaho is practically a different country compared to my hometown of Orange County), and a great deal of fear. Practicing yoga eased my insecurities. I threw my heart and soul into attending Wake-Up and Sunset classes. My teacher’s voice was calm and steady and instead of flittering in the wind like a wild co-ed, I found my inner voice growing stronger and my flexibility heightening. I was hooked.
I continued to practice yoga throughout my college years, building lasting friendships and relishing in the feeling of community and equality that permeated the room. Every person I have interviewed for Yoga Bear has told me about the quiet support they find from yoga. Cynthia Hardin and Ilana Minkoff, both cancer survivors, described this camaraderie they feel when they attend class. The best way to describe it is to not describe it at all. It just hangs in the air.
Fast forward a few years. I was engaged to be married. My future sister-in-law, at 28-years-old, was diagnosed with brain cancer. A week later, she passed. The strength I found on the mat helped me through this dark period, but more importantly, I helped my loved ones realize that we are all connected.
This Sunday, Yoga Bear is hosting Yogapalooza. This is an event where we can gather together as cancer survivors, cancer patients, yogis, those interested in yoga, and those who haven’t even heard of yoga to contribute to a cause. 100% of the proceeds will benefit local cancer non-profits! Cancer patients and survivors have free admission with an R.S.V.P. This is an opportunity to focus on mindfulness, health, and of course, yoga.
For information on Yogapalooza, visit our website here. We hope to see everyone there!