Sometimes our goals unfold in ways we would not expect. One of my goals this year was to deepen my yoga practice. When I made this goal I assumed this meant getting into my yoga studio more often, but this is not really feasible for me at this time. And over the summer I was not able to make it to the studio at all due to my work and childcare arrangements, so it would seem that I was totally failing at this goal. Yet yoga is about more than just getting your body into convoluted shapes. It is a practice of integrating your body and mind. So if you look at it that way, my backpacking adventure was a part of my yoga practice. Throughout my hike, I had to continually get past my own internal thoughts of “I can’t do this” and find deeper and deeper levels of strength to keep myself from giving up. When I first put on my pack, I thought “oh shit, this thing is so fucking heavy!” and “how I am I going to walk 12 miles today, if I can barely stand with this thing on.” I had to counteract that thought with “if I can just make it to the first mile marker, I can do this.” When I thought, “how am I going to hike two back to back 14 mile days, when two days of 13, and then 10 miles, felt unbearable,” I had to create a system of chunking the miles in my head, so I wasn’t hiking a seemly impossible 14 miles, but 2+4+4+4–I know I can hike 2 miles and 4 miles. I had to do this daily and hourly throughout my hike, because each day, each mile presented a new emotional and physical challenge to overcome. So that when I was finally able to return to my yoga mat 6 weeks ago, I arrived with all the mind and body strength that I found within myself on my journey. I found that I am practicing my yoga at a deeper level than I was before. I have a deeper awareness of when and how I can push my body to go a little bit deeper into a pose, and as equally important, when to stay where I am at or slow down. The greatest reward of this is when I can take this awareness “off my mat and into the world.” This next year I am taking on some new ventures. I will pushing myself outside my comfort zone to fully express myself in a more outward way. This is a big deal for me, because I am a very inward person, and there are certain parts of myself that I share with very few people. I hope that when I come across inward and outward obstacles over the next year and beyond, that I remember these layers of inner strength.