Healing through meditation

Dozens of local citizens gathered at Waterloo Memorial Recreation Complex on Feb. 26 to learn different styles of yoga from eleven different yoga instructors.

The event taking place was Yoga for Hope, a charity event established seven years ago which has raised over $60,000 to date. Proceeds from the event went towards HopeSpring Cancer Support Centre, a Waterloo-based not-for-profit organization that provides support and services for cancer patients and their families.

“HopeSpring is an incredible charitable community,” said Barbara Wakai, this year’s chair for Yoga for Hope. “It’s for people who have been affected by cancer, whether they’re family members or patients. They do counselling, there’s wigs that get donated for HopeSpring that they provide [and] they have yoga classes there.”

Beth Sukha-Barker conceived the idea for Yoga for Hope when she was working as a yoga instructor for HopeSpring in 2005.

Sukha-Barker had been teaching for HopeSpring for the past seven years and began the event when she found herself moving to Vancouver.

“I decided I wanted to leave something behind for my community and for HopeSpring,” she told The Cord. “I rounded up a few of my friends — fellow yoga teachers in town — and everyone said it was a fabulous cause.”

“I can’t imagine how she actually did it from afar,” said Wakai, “but it is a really good event.”

Yoga for Hope has attracted many citizens around the Waterloo regions in previous years, but Wakai credits the organization’s new web site for this year’s huge rise in popularity.

Since 2009, the event has also featured a silent auction with many yoga and wellness accessories and gift certificates for yoga and healing sessions.

Participants could also receive Thai massage throughout the day.

Sukha-Barker said that beyond the charity aspect, the event also helped to expose the greater community to the benefits of yoga. “It introduces people who have never tried yoga to a whole bunch of different styles of yoga,” she said. ”It’s the combination of a great cause and a really kind community.”

She discussed the spiritual and physical healing powers of yoga, specifically for those affected by cancer. “The benefits of yoga are so well-known and scientifically proven to lower blood pressure,” said Sukha-Barker.

She went on to explain that yoga is a suitable exercise for people of any strength level. “It’s gentle enough, or it can be strenuous enough to meet anyone’s needs so that if you’re very compromised either from the disease or the emotions that come … there’s a place for you.”