Monday, October 31, 2011
Sunday, October 30, 2011
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.
Friday, October 28, 2011
Sunday, October 23, 2011
October is breast cancer awareness month, and we're now accepting nominations for our 2012 Cowgirls vs. Cancer scholarship program. 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 Kelly's story. Yeehaw & Namaste.
I’m wearing my pink Athleta cowgirl hat, channeling a ride in the Bridger Mountains as I write this.
We’re winding through the pines of a mountain forest, a line of women and horses. The smell of the pine, carried on a soft breeze, is intoxicating. I can feel the warmth of my horse, Dillon, beneath me and the sun above me. I hear the sounds of the leather saddle squeaking and the birds trilling, the laughter and low murmurs of my fellow riders and I am happy, completely happy.
I recall turning to Margaret and saying that this moment would become my “happy place”, envisioning it for years to come. She replied, “Just wait, there’s more.” And there was more, so much more.
The Cowgirls vs. Cancer scholarship was a huge blessing in the midst of a challenging time. There is not enough praise or gratitude enough to thank the Cowgirl Yoga team and those who support it. Although my chemotherapy and radiation treatments had ended months before, I still felt like I was holding my breath. Cowgirl Yoga released that breath, and I breathed deeply of calm and confidence.
Confidence returned to my body and mind, as I moved from timid and rigid in the saddle to synching with Dillon’s stride (and what a good and patient horse he was with me!), so that I could finish my week with a gentle gallop up Yeehaw Hill. The yoga classes reminded me of how amazing the human body is as I felt its every muscle and nerve, the air through my lungs, the silent place in my mind - and I thanked it for its service .
For the first time in over a year, I slept straight through the night, no hours of tossing around, no anxious moments. The days of fantastic food, beautiful weather and amazing women were a balm for my soul.
I was especially grateful to be with such a special group of people, yoga lovers, horse lovers, adventure lovers, lovers of laughter, my best friend, Becky, who nominated me and joined me at the retreat, and fellow cancer thriver, Su. I felt at ease, joyful, silly, comforted, relaxed and full. There was no room for worry or what-if’s because I was so completely full…stuffed, in fact, with positive, healthy, happy emotions.
That ride up the mountain is still my “happy place”. When I let the busy-ness of life avert my attention from its real purpose and meaning, when I forget how blessed I am to be here, when I feel like I’m at the end of my rope, I close my eyes and breathe in the pine.
Yeehaw & Namaste.
Photo of Kelly and Dillon by Larry Stanley
Friday, October 21, 2011
I think I finally slowed down this week. I'll admit, some of it was by necessity...I've been sick and lost my voice (still am croaking vs. talking)...which I decided must mean that it's my turn to listen instead of talk for a bit. Although I've been irritated by the lack of my usual energy, I've noticed that I'm losing that jumpy feeling. I'm appreciating more time and space in my life right now, and savoring some blessings I might not have lingered on during my busy season. Here are a few of my fave October things:
- My horse. yeah I know, you've heard it before, but the blanket of soothing energy he wraps me in never ceases to amaze me. When I touch him I feel anxiety leave my body. When I ride him I forget whatever I was obsessing about, at least for awhile. And I love that knowing look he gives me, like, what's with you now? forget about it and just hang with me.
- Lessons from little ones. It's hard not to get excited about Halloween and pumpkins when there's a 6 year old in the house. My daughter and I gleefully went over our plans for baking some October-inspired treats this weekend, and it would be hard not to catch her enthusiasm. I also had an unplanned riding lesson from a young girl who rode with me today...she seemed to sense that I needed some nurturing. Sometimes it's really nice to not always have to be the grown-up.
- The Power of Myth. Myths haunt this time of year...and this darn book has been haunting me for a long, long time. I keep starting it and stopping. I've committed to reading it through, so maybe I'll have to hold myself to that by promising a book review here. So it requires a bit more concentration than a vampire read, but I'm up for it. And when something Joseph Campbell said clicks with you, it's a beautiful, inspiring thing.
- Viparita Karani. Thank God for legs-up-the-wall. It's been my yoga prescription all week...I self-medicate, in a good way. This pose is perfect when you need your yoga moves to be on the slower side.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Saturday, October 15, 2011
Monday, October 10, 2011
Thursday, October 6, 2011
October is breast cancer awareness month, and we're now accepting nominations for our 2012 Cowgirls vs. Cancer scholarship program. 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. To kick things off, here's Su's story. Yeehaw & Namaste.