Wanted: Cancer Kickin' Cowgirls


Yeehaw and Namaste! Cowgirls vs. Cancer, a retreat for breast cancer survivors combining yoga and horseback riding, is accepting scholarship nominees for its June 2013 retreat.

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Eight breast cancer survivors will be awarded a scholarship to attend the retreat scheduled for June 6-9, 2013 in Bozeman, Montana through Big Sky Retreats.

So how can horseback riding help breast cancer survivors? It's really about the whole experience of being on retreat, practicing yoga to connect to their bodies, connecting with the horses in nature,and sharing the experience with other survivors.

"There is an emotional component to a lot of the experience," says Big Sky Retreats founder and yoga teacher Margaret Burns Vap. "Women release a lot of emotion with both horses and yoga. We see a lot of tears, and it is a good thing." The retreat is designed to help survivors regain an internal sense of peace and balance after treatment.

The Cowgirls vs. Cancer program started in 2009 when Burns Vap received a message from someone who had a friend, a breast cancer survivor, who wanted to attend a Cowgirl Yoga retreat. Burns Vap had recently had a "very small blip on the breast cancer radar" herself, so she found a way to bring the friend out to experience the retreat in 2010.

Now, she offers a retreat just for survivors so they can share the experience with each other. This also lets Burns Vap tailored the yoga classes toward survivors by focusing on building back upper body strength after surgeries.

"Working with survivors has actually proved to be not much different from the general population," Burns Vap says. "In fact, some of them are much stronger!"

To nominate yourself or someone you know write an essay answering the questions here and submit it by email to cowgirl@bigskyyogaretreats.com. Recipients will be chosen based on the content of an essay they must submit by November 10 For more information visit bigskyyogaretreats.com/cowgirlcancer.html.