What is yoga? An ancient art based on the physical and mental activity that promotes balance, harmony and and strong mental health.
As a practitioner of yoga for the past 10 years, I’ve participated in thousands of yoga classes. What started out as an unattainable activity soon became part of my daily routine. My initiation into yoga began when my spine collapsed, after decades of daily, long-distance running. Following the recommended treatment of rest and plenty of opioid pain pills my self-image quickly deteriorated as the medication side-effects took over. I changed from feeling self-confident as a well-tuned athlete to feeling like a sloth. After a few months of zero improvement I took action. Thinking surgery was the remedy, I hobbled into my neurosurgeon’s office. Examining MRI’s and x-rays the surgeon said, sure, he will consider surgery, but first I needed to sign up for either physical therapy or yoga; at least 4 times/week for the next 3 months. But…wait! I can’t move. I’m in pain. How is this going to happen?
As chance would have it, a new Bikram Yoga studio opened right across the street from my office. On February 13th, 2008, I crawled into a large heated room, unrolled my rented matt and struggled to sit upon it amidst a sea of amazingly flexible individuals–of all ages. The instructor had a militant style of teaching the class, but gratefully, he was gentle with me. He encouraged me to stay in the room and try out the poses and see what I could do. Each yoga pose was difficult (26 poses done twice) but wonderful at the same time, because, my body was moving again. Resistance, hold, strain, stretch, relax, concentrate, breathe and let it go. I felt hopeful for the first time in months. I could move my body a little bit better than when I walked into the room.
Starting out as a Bikram-obsessed yogi, I progressed to more eclectic yoga styles such as; Vinyassa, Baptiste, Haute-26, Venus or Tru Signature Series. The best part of my yoga discovery was learning from so many remarkable and talented instructors who gradually reveal to the class their unique persona and vulnerabilities. Most yoga studios showcase their instructors in dazzling photos (in the midst of impossible contortions) accompanied by a personal biography. The bios tell the tale of the instructor’s personal journey into yoga and are often inspirational and sometimes even sensational.
One particular Las Vegas yoga instructor and creator of the popular Haute-26 series, is Amelia Bruff, who simply cannot hide her stunning personality. Amelia has quite a history working in the most famous shows on the strip as a Jubilee Showgirl and now a Diver for LeReve–the Dream at the Wynn Resort and Casino.
Amelia’s story is one of wonder, brilliance and always with humor. Did I mention Amelia is special? Amelia has brought together an incredible group of talented local yoga instructors as well as the youngest certified yoga teacher in the world for her birthday celebration, which falls on 9-11, for her charity event called , “Yoga 4 a Cause.” Amelia is no stranger to emotional pain, having a birthday that falls on 9-11. She decided to turn her birthday sadness into a more positive state of mind through her yearly charity event. This year Amelia has a “double cause” of helping to prevent teen suicide.
In Nevada and throughout the country, teen suicide ranks as the 2nd leading cause of death. Her 2nd cause is helping children in Peru who suffer from terminal illness. Amelia believes that yoga is community, yoga is family, yoga is love. I’ve heard her mantra during class, “I know the tragedies that can happen to people we love. This is why I’ve made it a practice to tell the people that I care about that I love them. Just in case it’s the last time.” Amelia teaches that the essence of yoga is love and no matter how anxious or sad or unsettled she feels, when coming to class and connecting with her students she feels joy. And trust me, Amelia’s joy is contagious.
Sunday, September 10th, at 6:30 pm, on the Lawn at Downtown Summerlin, come and connect with this extraordinary woman as she leads our community in a yoga class.
This is a positive community event, sponsored by Tru Fusion, with refreshments donated by the Lazy Dog restaurant and music by DJ Dray, and a host of incredible and talented yoga instructors. Families are invited and encouraged to participate. Be prepared to laugh, learn and experience the positive that life offers. Yoga is connection.
Funds raised during this event will go to the Nevada Coalition for Suicide Prevention to be used for social and emotional learning programs for Nevada’s schools. The SEL for Prevention organization is proud to help Amelia achieve her dream of helping children discover healthy ways to express feelings, self-love and compassion—making the community a better place!
Written by: Pamela M. Goldberg, CEO SEL for Prevention
For more information about the Nevada Coalition for Suicide Prevention go to; nvsuicideprevention.org
For more information on SEL for Prevention go to; selforprevention.com