Cowgirls vs. Cancer 2011: Tanya's story


October is breast cancer awareness month, and we're now accepting nominations for our 2012 Cowgirls vs. Cancer scholarship program (until November 10, so there's still time!). Cowgirls vs. Cancer is healing with horses and yoga for breast cancer survivors, and next year will be its third. Also this month, I'll be sharing stories from our four 2011 recipients, about their Cowgirl Yoga experience with us this summer. Here's Tanya's story. Yeehaw & Namaste.

Yoga and horses can fix anything. They're kind of like duct tape and hay string.

- Facebook post by Tanya (pictured above with Tres)

Even though I have been riding for around 15 years, and have practiced yoga for close to 4, I will still admit to being nervous about making the trip to Montana for Cowgirl Yoga. The thought of riding out in the wide open, over mountain trails on an unknown horse is a far cry from riding in a groomed 20x60 meter arena, or a short hack on a close by trail with a horse of my own. Yoga is also an area of my life that I am passionate about, and had become somewhat set into my ways. My friend Diane, who is a past Cowgirls vs. Cancer scholarship recipient (and bona fide cancer butt kicker) assured me that it would be the experience of a lifetime. She would be returning to Montana for this retreat, along with other inspiring friends including Susanna, who had just the previous year completed a half Iron Man. How could I chicken out with women like these along for the ride?

Soon after arriving, I realized that I NEEDED to be there. Janice has such an amazing way with the horses, and I learned so much from her that changed the way I view my own horses and riding. Ron’s calming influence helped keep me at ease as I learned completely new ways of doing simple things that I had long taken for granted. Western tack is a whole new ballgame!

After the first day’s ride, I was sore and tight from being nervous throughout the day. The yoga definitely helped balance this out, and Margaret gave me a new way of thinking as she explained to let each pose flow, rather than attacking or “making” them happen. I started to practice yoga shortly after completion of my cancer treatment, and came to think of it as physical therapy and a way to stay in shape. And though yoga is both of these, it is also something much deeper, and having Margaret’s perspective on allowing flow has changed my practice in a permanent way for the better. I also kept this thought in mind on the following day’s ride, and as my nervousness melted away I was able to enjoy every moment of the long and amazing ride though the most stunning scenery I have ever seen.

It was a whirlwind few days, and also a life changing experience that I will never forget. Memories with amazing friends, plus a new perspective on life. The pink mat from Jade Yoga has been with me for my every yoga practice since returning home, and the pink cowgirl hat from Athleta has a permanent spot on the bed post above my head. It is a great way to end and begin each day with a reminder of my time in Montana! Yeehaw & Namaste.

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