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Published on March 31, 2016

“Show Us Your Heart” winner keeps life in balance

“Show Us Your Heart” winner keeps life in balance

The crashing of the waves, the rising heat of the early morning sun and the presence of her family makes Stephanie Gilrein’s heart sing.Stephanie Gilrein

So when she saw the “Show Us Your Heart” Facebook contest sponsored by Cape Cod Healthcare earlier this year, asking Cape Codders to post a photo of someone or something that gives them joy, she knew just the picture she would choose.

During a week-long family reunion in Dennis last summer, family members asked Stephanie, a certified instructor, to lead a yoga class on the beach one morning. While some family members had previously practiced yoga, others were new to it, she said.

Seeing the large group in pose, a friendly beach walker offered to take a photo of them, capturing the moment when nine adult family members were aligned in the yoga “tree pose” against a cloudless sky and shimmering sea.

Gilrein’s photo captured the top spot in the Show Us Your Heart contest, winning her a Vitamix blender.

The union of the body, mind and spirit is the essence of yoga, explained Gilrein.

“Having the opportunity to practice it collectively, brought our family together and united us, our kids and our ancestors in a kind of celebration,” she recalled.

Gilrein, who used to manage Chapin’s Restaurant in Dennis, practiced yoga for four years before she considered becoming a teacher. Over the years she became proficient in many types of yoga, including the most rigorous,  Ashtanga.  In 2013, she traveled to Guatemala to study yoga with Ashley Ludman. Now a certified yoga teacher with Yoga Alliance, Gilrein teaches at Cape Cod Health & Fitness and at Power Yoga of Cape Cod in Dennisport.

The second annual “Show Us Your Heart” contest was part of Cape Cod Healthcare’s celebration of February Heart Month. Dozens ofStephanie Gilreincharming, beautiful and touching photographs of children, pets, gardens, places and things were entered during the month-long contest.

When Gilrein discovered the contest on a Facebook feed, the photograph of her family’s yoga session on the beach seemed a natural fit.

“I am very blessed with healthy parents, siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins,” she wrote in the caption she posted with the Show Us Your Heart photo. “These spirited yogis came out to practice in the early morning sunshine to take a sip of the good medicine – connection, trust and gratitude.”

Gilrein’s parents still live in the house where she grew up, and several relatives live nearby, making the neighborhood a central meeting point for the family. Over the years, some relatives and their children have moved away, but about 40 family members come together now from as far away as South Carolina, New Jersey and Maine, Gilrein said.

Last summer’s visit was made extra special by their spiritual connection on the beach, she said.

“I think it’s fair to say, we all left that experience with our hearts singing songs of love that will stay with us for a long time to come.”