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Our Teachers in Training share their insights with the YogaSport community.

by Shoshannah Frank

By the time we started our 8 mile hike down to the Havasupai reservation in the middle of the desert in May, we had already hiked about 20 miles in the days prior and ridden our bikes around the Canyon Village. Needless to say, I was feeling the aches, pains and strains of roughing it. My hike became a walking meditation of sorts. I would count my steps to a rhythm and concentrate on my breath as I inhaled and exhaled. Finally, I began to feel something I never really felt before. I was grateful for all that my body was doing and allowing me to experience. I was tired and hot, but I kept moving. The day before we had met a young guy on the trail in the Grand Canyon. He was a medical student who was taking his last “real” summer break. He told us all the wonderful trips he had planned: rock climbing in Yosemite and Peru. All Dylan and I could say is do it! Do it while you have the time. Do it while you have the freedom. Do it while your body is capable. This conversation made me reflect back to what I was doing when I was around his age, late teens early twenties, and my gratitude grew even more. Back then I was fat, not fat like I tell myself now, but overweight by at least 50 pounds, lazy, asthmatic and a smoker. I would wait 15 minutes to take the bus 3 blocks. Sad. Here I was, 34, hiking, climbing rocks, camping and doing handstands in front of 80 ft waterfalls. It took a trip to paradise to realize how lucky I am. At this moment in my life, I have a strong healthy body. It is an inspiring feeling when you realize you are capable of more than you thought.

This euphoria lasted for about a week after we got home. I found myself reverting back to my old thinking patterns. I started to hear the voices of self doubt and self judgement creep back in, attributes that I struggle with on a daily basis which lead to my lack of confidence. So my challenge to myself is to figure out how to keep that feeling of gratitude and self confidence everyday, not just in paradise. When I find these thoughts arising I try to visualize myself on my perch in front of the waterfall, full of gratitude, love and accomplishment. Recently while reading The Four Agreements one specific passage spoke to me: “When you practice giving love to every part of your body, you plant seeds of love in your mind, and when they grow, you will love, honor, and respect your body immensely.” I am beginning to understand the importance of compassion for myself, compassion for where I am right now and accepting my mistakes without judgement while I work on my growth.

While the trip was awesome and we saw and did amazing things, what I got out the trip was so much more then canyons, waterfalls and crystal clear starry skies. For that one week I was able to believe in myself. Dare I say that I felt good about myself and my body? I now commit to giving love to my body not just when it is amazing me but when I am hurting as well. I will plant the seed of love not only in my mind, but in all those places in my body that plague me like my cellulite thighs, stretch marked hips and my flabby arms. These seeds will grow and I will learn to love, honor and respect my body for all that it is. This trip may have been one week of planting, but one week could turn into months, years and hopefully the rest of my lifetime. If not, then who am I to judge?