City of Hope’s fourth annual Yoga for Hope set for June 7 at Petco Park

By Kristina Houck

In an effort to raise awareness about the benefits of yoga, as well as funds for research, treatment and education programs, City of Hope’s Yoga for Hope is set to return June 7 at Petco Park. The fourth annual event will feature a master yoga class and yoga marketplace featuring more than 30 vendors.

“It’s such an inspirational day and it’s such a beautiful opportunity to connect with other people,” said Amanda Nixon, assistant director of philanthropy for City of Hope’s southwest development office.

Diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer at just 27 years old, Nixon discovered the benefits of yoga after multiple surgeries and months of chemotherapy and radiation treatments. She has attended Yoga for Hope since it first launched in 2011, but this is her first time coordinating the awareness and fundraising event.

“Because of my cancer journey, I discovered yoga, and it has really helped me so much,” said Nixon, who is now 36 years old and an eight-year breast cancer survivor. “It improved my range of motion, it helped my ability to sleep, it helped me reconnect with my body. It has helped me beyond words.”

As one of the nation’s leading centers for cancer treatment and research, City of Hope offers free yoga for patients at its medical center, which is located in Duarte, Calif., northeast of Los Angeles. The event aims to support the center’s efforts to expand awareness of the importance of the mind-body-spirit connection when battling cancer, diabetes or HIV/AIDS.

“One of the most profound things yoga teaches you is how to cancel the negative thoughts that don’t serve you and replace those with more powerful thoughts,” said Rancho Santa Fe-based yoga instructor Stacy McCarthy, who is one of four instructors who will be leading the master yoga class. Other instructors include Amy Caldwell, Michael Fukumura and Claire Petretti Marti.

“Through the use of our breath, the use of our focus and the use of our thoughts, we start to change from the inside out. For those who are healing — whatever stage they are at in healing — the postures can be as simple as sitting, focusing on their breath, tuning in and feeling what’s going on rather than trying to escape what’s going on. It’s really transformative.”

Yoga poses will focus on this year’s theme, which is strength and finding the power within, McCarthy said.

“It’s really powerful,” said McCarthy, who has more than 25 years of teaching experience. “It gives everyone an opportunity to really connect and make a difference through something that they love, whether they’re brand new to yoga or a regular yoga practitioner.”

About 700 people participated in Yoga for Hope last year when it was held at Petco Park for the first time. The event, which outgrew its original location at Hilton Bayfront San Diego, raised $70,000. Organizers expect 1,000 people to participate in this year’s event.

The master yoga class begins at 8:30 a.m. June 7 at Petco Park in San Diego. The marketplace opens at 7 a.m. and closes at noon. Advance registration costs $45 for students and $35 for yoga instructors.

All registered participants will receive tickets to the June 8 San Diego Padres baseball game. Yoga for Hope’s top fundraiser will throw out the first pitch.

For more information about the 2014 Yoga for Hope and to register, visit