Yoga teacher Claire Petretti Marti turned to what she knows best when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. The Encinitas resident credits the physical, mental and spiritual practice for helping her through the healing process.
“Yoga is really what helped me get through everything,” Marti said.
Yoga helped Marti so much that she worked with the City of Hope to launch Yoga for Hope, in an effort to raise awareness about the benefits of yoga, as well as funds for research, treatment and education programs at one of the nation’s leading centers for cancer treatment and research. The sixth annual event is set to return Aug. 13 at Petco Park.
“Everyone’s been impacted by cancer in some way. Everybody knows somebody,” Marti said. “Yoga helps people going through life-threatening illnesses.”
Marti had always been active and healthy. In fact, she has practiced, studied and taught yoga since 1999.
After feeling a lump in her breast one day, however, Marti went to the doctor. In January 2010, she was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 42.
“It was quite the surprise,” she said.
Marti not only turned to yoga throughout surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation, she continued her training. Learning to live with cancer inspired her to earn her Yoga for Cancer Therapy certification — while still undergoing chemotherapy. She has since taught classes specifically for people living with cancer.
“I think yoga helps everybody,” Marti said. “When you’re going through treatment, you start to feel like you have no control. It’s very challenging. So yoga isn’t just about relaxation; it’s about rebuilding strength. That’s very empowering.”
Marti was instrumental in assisting City of Hope with the inaugural San Diego Yoga for Hope in 2011. More than 400 people attended the March event at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront.
“Claire’s passion as a cancer survivor, fundraiser, research enthusiast and yoga instructor was key to introducing City of Hope — where all patients and caregivers are offered free yoga classes for relaxation and well-being, in conjunction with their compassionate medical care — to a community of yogis that wanted to unite to end cancer,” said Amanda Nixon, assistant director of philanthropy for City of Hope’s southwest development office.
Marti continued to stay actively involved with Yoga for Hope even when she relocated to Denver with her husband for two years. Having previously lived in the San Diego region for 25 years, Marti returned to Encinitas in April, quickly settling back into the community.
She now teaches yoga and Pilates at Inhale Yoga & Fitness in Del Mar, both Equinox and re:form YOGA in Carlsbad, and the Bay Club in Carmel Valley. This year she is serving as event chair for Yoga for Hope, where she will also emcee and teach at the event.
“We are grateful for Claire,” said Nixon, who is also a breast cancer survivor. “Contributions to nonprofits like ours enable us to make a difference in the lives of people that need it most.”
In 2015, Yoga for Hope was held Phoenix, San Francisco, Seattle and San Diego.
Close to 700 people participated in and supported San Diego’s Yoga for Hope last year, raising $90,000 for City of Hope, which is located in Duarte, California, northeast of Los Angeles. This year, event organizers hope to reach 1,000 attendees and exceed their goal of $100,000 for cancer research.
“It’s about bringing the community together,” Marti said.
“We would love everyone to join us mind, body and spirit in the fight against cancer,” Nixon added.
City of Hope’s sixth annual Yoga for Hope will take place Aug. 13 at Petco Park, featuring a master yoga class and yoga marketplace. There will be live music, 25 health-related vendors and 90 minutes of yoga that takes place in centerfield.
Check-in and same-day registration is from 7- 8:20 a.m. The marketplace will be open from 7-11 a.m., with the class at 8:30 a.m.
For more information or to register, visit www.yogaforhope.org/sd