Oak Park Yoga Community Rallies to Raise Funds for Beloved Teacher
Beloved Oak Parker and yoga teacher Christine Cipra is expected to make a full recovery after suffering a stroke in November last year. Friends and students of Cipra will come together in January to raise funds to help out as she recovers.
Members of Oak Park's close-knit yoga community are rallying this week to raise funds for a yoga instructor who recently suffered a stroke.
Christine Cipra, a teacher at Ahimsa Yoga and a longtime Oak Park resident, said she was sitting at home on the Tuesday evening before Thanksgiving when she felt a headache come on that was unlike any she had experienced before.
"I'd had some increased headaches over the last year," Cipra said looking back. "But this was different. It felt like a mushroom cloud in my head. I could feel it burst."
Cipra and her husband quickly drove over to Rush Oak Park Hospital, where doctors determined she'd suffered a stroke and quickly sent her to surgery.
"It was scary, but I feel very lucky that we were able to catch it so quickly," Cipra said. "Rush is one of the best hospitals in the county [for treating stroke patients], so I'm lucky that I live in Oak Park too."
Cipra said she likes to work on holidays. Each year, she teaches a special class on Thanksgiving morning to help her students relax before a busy day of cooking and entertaining.
"The holidays can be stressful, and it's nice to be able to take a step back," Cipra said. "The Thanksgiving class is always packed."
Kelly Merydith, owner of Ahimsa Yoga in Oak Park, said she got a call from Cipra's husband, Charlie, the day before Thanksgiving. He let her know about the situation, and that Cipra would not be able to teach the class this year.
"She's one of the most popular yoga teacher in Oak Park," Merydith said of Cipra. "She's a great teacher, with great energy, and a lot of students look to her for guidance."
Merydith said she was stunned when she heard the news. Her students likewise, immediately began asking how they could help.
"It's a really close community," Merydith said of Oak Park's yoga teachers and students. "[Cipra] has a lot of friends, and we were trying to come up with an answer of how they could help out."
At the suggestion of one of Cipra's fellow teachers, a benefit was called for. Although Cipra has health insurance, she's also a graduate student at the University of Illinois at Chicago and would be required to take significant time off work to recuperate. Her husband also had surgery earlier in 2012, and the bills were coming in.
"Staying 14 days in the [intensive care unit] is really expensive," Cipra said.
On Jan. 18, students, friends and teachers will come together at Ahimsa to share food and drinks and participate in a group meditation class led by fellow yoga teacher Rich Logan. The studio will also host a silent auction, with the proceeds of the benefit going to Cipra's continued recovery.
Doors open for the event at 6:30 p.m., with a special kirtan yoga class running from 7-8 p.m. Food and drink will be available afterwards until the auction closes at 9:30 p.m.
Local businesses have generously pitched in for the auction items, Merydith said. Sponsors of the auction include a number of local yoga studios, Blue Max Coffee, House Red Vinoteca, Dot Fox Clothing Boutique and many more.
Cipra said she's been in awe of all the support she's received since getting out of the hospital.
"People were dropping off dinners, which was really helpful when my husband went back to work," Cipra said. "I could feel their support. It makes you feel like you're not alone in this."
Cipra is anxious to get back to living her life as she did before the stroke, but she knows she needs to take it slow. She attributes the quick progress in her recovery to her team of doctors at Rush, the support of the community and a positive outlook from years of yoga.
"I'm excited to see everyone again and just say thank you," Cipra said.
She's already back to casual exercise and her doctors have been surprised by the quickness of her recovery.
"I'm expected to have a full recovery, but I'm still a little weak," Cipra said thankfully.
Cipra hopes to attend the event as well, so that she can thank her students for their support in person. While it may be some time still before she can return to her schedule of graduate and yoga classes, she's looking on the bright side.
"I have a lot of faith in the power of yoga," Cipra said. "I'm a believer in prayer—some people call it mediation. I feel like yoga is my physical therapy."
Donations are also being accepted from those that are unable to attend the event. Tickets cost $25 and can be purchased at BrownPaperTickets.com.
Silent Auction Sponsors:
- Symmetry Therapeutic Massage and Yoga
- Inner Gaze Yoga with Kim Wade
- YogaKids of Oak Park
- House Red Vinoteca
- White Lotus Chiropractic
- Buzz Cafe
- Blue Max Coffee
- Dot Fox Clothing Boutique
- Lululemon OakBrook
- Fly Rights Gifts
- Gabriel Halpern Private Yoga
- Chicago Symphony Orchestra
- YogaTrek Center
- CorePower Yoga
- Whispers from the Moon
- Serenity Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine
- The Juice Joint
- Gottlieb Fitness Center
- Ahimsa Yoga Studio
- Teresa Heit-Murray Yoga
- Jackie Huxel Artwork