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After her first round of chemotherapy for breast cancer, Christina Phipps wanted to give back to her community. She developed a form of gentle yoga specifically for cancer patients and offered these yoga classes for free to people living with cancer. She was selected as "the best yoga instructor" by Jacksonville Magazine. Shortly before her death in 2010, she was still leading as many as 12 yoga classes a week. The Christina Phipps Foundation was founded in remembrance of Christina that year.
Christina and her family conceived the foundation in 2010 with the idea to train yoga teachers to take over the yoga classes Christina had started in Jacksonville for cancer patients. Her father Ben Phipps was the founder and continues to serve as the President of the Board of Directors. We have worked with over 50 organizations since 2010. Some organizations want to learn more about the foundation and help us in our mission of training yoga teachers and some go on to host free CPF yoga classes. Sometimes the host organization only wants a class for a short time, some are longer term, and some of our classes have been running uninterrupted since Christina taught them in 2010. Pre-pandemic we had classes running at the Mayo Clinic weekly for free since 2010 and classes at Flagler Health Care in St. Augustine that have been offered weekly for free since 2012. During the pandemic in 2020 we began offering Zoom classes and classes by video on the CPF YouTube channel.
The facility hosting the class will determine the students allowed in the class. Some facilities limit classes to their own cancer patients. Some allow the staff to attend. Other facilities open classes to all cancer patients in the community, survivors and their supporters. Each facility knows their needs and resources.
The CPF is invited in and provides a volunteer yoga teacher, or a team of teachers, but the facility markets the class to their constituents. We typically have 25-30 classes running each week. Classes are always free. Yoga teachers are volunteers. The facility that invites us in agrees to never charge when the yoga class is implemented.
The CPF recruits qualified yoga teachers, reviews their qualifications, coaches them through the admission and certification process, and after graduation assists in locating appropriate volunteer placement enabling the yoga teacher to serve the cancer community. Some teachers only teach the required six months and others have been with us over 10 years and still come back to help. We have many requests for our teachers each year. We have trained over 200 teachers to date.
CPF Training and Certification:
The CPF training for yoga teachers is an advanced training with multiple objectives. Doctors provide up to date medical information/research to yoga teachers about cancer and working with cancer patients in their yoga teaching. CPF training is conducted over one and a half days. The program of speakers includes physicians, nurses, physical therapists, social workers and other healthcare and yoga professionals. All the doctors, nurses, physical therapists, and other medical faculty involved in our training certification are volunteers.
We do not say goodbye to our graduates after the training is over. We immediately work together with our graduates to place them in yoga teaching positions where they can teach what they have learned in training, advance their knowledge in a real world setting and gain new skills working with cancer survivors. Some facilities go on to hire our graduates and many people around the community call us for referrals when they are hiring yoga teachers. The foundation provides this service to the community free of charge.