Tag Archives: Hayloft Yoga

Babies at the Barn!

This is one of the best times for babies in the Hayloft!  Come out to class tonight and get your fix!

We have baby horses, baby barn swallows, baby barn owls, baby bison …

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Can you spot the owls?

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Cuteness alert!

An inspiring quote from last week’s practice:

“Every yoga posture involves a ‘push’ and a ‘yield.’  Pushing is an active force that moves the body further and deeper into the posture, gently exploring areas of tightness.  Yielding is a passive force with which you wait and listen to the moment-to-moment feedback from your body; it’s a letting go of resistance that allows the active force to be successful without being aggressive.  The pushing and yielding elements occur simultaneously, as in a dance.  Done properly, therefore, yoga is a matter of pushing and yielding, of ‘doing’ and ‘not-doing,’ at the same time.”

-Erich Schiffman
Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving into Stillness

1.Supplies-provided

We have all the supplies you need! Just come on out!

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Yoga at the Loft

Tonight’s practice at Hayloft Yoga will be inspired by the hens … We will be attempting “Ruffle-the-Feathers-Between-Your-Front-Legs-Pose. Any takers?

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PS-drive with awareness … the fog’s rolling in!

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Is there a Chicken Pose?

Is there a Chicken Pose?

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Come on over to Hayloft Yoga at Double S Quarter Horses in Bow to find out!

Every Tuesday from 6-7pm. Sure to be the most unique soundtrack in any yoga class you’ll encounter!

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Songs in Savasana

Free_National_Yoga_Month

What an amazing evening in the hayloft!  Tonight’s class was free of charge, in celebration of National Yoga Month in the spirit of making the transformational practice of yoga accessible to all.

There are countless benefits of yoga, and the Yoga Health Foundation offers a list of research-supported, evidence-based findings, supporting the relief of conditions ranging from fatigue to cancer, inflammation to menopause, anxiety & depression.  Quite extensive!

What the list doesn’t quite get at, however, is the depth of connection we can cultivate in practice to our Inner Self, or our deepest truth.  It’s hard to measure the subtle qualities that we get in touch with and develop through a yoga practice.  Tonight’s class was guided by the heart center, opening both physically and energetically to our highest potential in our asanas and, ultimately, in our lives.

“The heart is the hub of all sacred places.  Go there and roam in it.”

~Nityananda

At the end of class, as we settled into Savasana, placing support under our knees to nourish the low back, lengthening our necks, relaxing our shoulders, our arms, opening our hearts and palms to the sky in a gesture of receiving via letting go.

Even the horses got quiet.  Matney brought out her guitar and sang till our hearts were as full as the moon …

Savasana_Sweet_Singing

Om shanti shanti shanti.

Thank you for a beautiful practice.



 

Mudflat_ReleaseMatney’s band, The Mudflat Walkers, will be playing at their CD Release Extravaganza (kid-friendly!) upcoming on Friday, September 19th from 5-9pm in Fairhaven.  I hope you will join me in celebrating (bring carrots for her four-legged co-star, whose Debut Performance will be featured during the Mudflat Walkers set)!

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Push & Yield

What a perfect evening practice in the hayloft … inspired and guided by this sweet quote by Erich Schiffman:

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Every yoga posture involves a ‘push’ and a ‘yield.’ Pushing is an active force that moves the body further and deeper into the posture, gently exploring areas of tightness.  Yielding is a passive force with which you wait and listen to the moment-to-moment feedback from your body; it’s a letting go of resistance that allows the active force to be successful without being aggressive.  The pushing and yielding elements occur simultaneously, as in a dance.  Done properly, therefore, yoga is a matter of pushing and yielding, of ‘doing’ and ‘not-doing,’ at the same time.”

~ Erich Schiffman

How can this concept apply to your riding?

Your relationship with your horse?

With other people?

Your life?

Fletch_Jess_Smiles

Wishing you all a blissful and happy evening! 

Namaste.

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Quote this Picture …

… for a Free Hayloft Yoga class!

I was horsin’ around with my dear friend Codi and her movie-star (as in the most camera-aware, perky-eared horse I’ve encountered!) Palomino Quarter Horse, Cajun, when this perfect photo op arose.

What do you think they are saying?

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If you’re curious, we were at the impeccable and magical Wild Marmot Ranch,
and they currently have vacancy for boarders!

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I can’t wait to read what y’all come up with!

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Reflections: Retreat to the Hayloft

Blanchard_ViewAbove, the view of Blanchard Mountain; beyond, the sea, just outside Double S.

Last night’s class at the barn was spectacular ~ the warm summer breeze, baby swallows peeping their blue tiny heads over the edge of their nest, horses and cows grazing in the almost impossibly bright green pasture.  It was the type of night that subtly reminds us, through the way that the evening light settles into the grasses and trees, that this ~ here ~ is exactly where we are meant to be.  Not many years ago, when I lived in the beautiful tremendous bustle of Chicago, I would never have ever imagined that someday I would be teaching yoga in a gorgeous horse barn at the base of a mountain, just steps away from the salty sea.

Here, it is like a retreat, a respite full of nourishment that we can access just by opening our eyes.  Or closing them, and feeling ~ the cool breeze on our warm skin, inhaling the aroma of horse hair and hay.  By noticing.  It is simple here, easier to let go and truly be present.  The horses help, in how they “experience the simple energy of [their] emotional state of being,” as Hamilton explains (I am reading his book.  It is brilliant.  Thanks Cody!).  In the presence of the horse, we settle into our bodies, into our simple energy and re-remember how to just be.

“We are human beings, not human doings.”

Pasture

It was the kind of night where you’re driving home and your heart just explodes open in the way that a flower blossoms open, gently and all at once.

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Carpool to Hayloft Yoga Classes

Please feel free to use the “comments” section below to coordinate car pooling arrangements out to the Hayloft, and know that the air you inhale deeply is a little sweeter if you ride out with a friend!

Or even better … ride your horse to class!

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Hayloft Yoga: Compassion

Tonight was our first Fall-feeling Hayloft Yoga class of 2013, and the crisp air brought some friendly new faces!  I was struck by what a sweet community of horse- and yoga-lovers I am so fortunate to be a part of.

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Horses and cows grazed outside in the field to the backdrop of the Olympics, and the sunset was lovely as usual.  The weather has changed and is a bit more brisk, but nothing some conscious breathing and active poses can’t warm us through.  I noticed, after having been out of state for a month, the incredible impact the horses have on our practice of yoga.  In the hayloft, we can gaze down into their stalls and watch them (and they often watch us!).  We are enveloped in the sweet smell of hay, the sounds of them breathing, chewing, the taste of the dusty air.  Most importantly for me, horses help us to be present, in the moment, in our bodies.  Their way of being in the world–whether standing in the pasture or ridden under saddle–shines a mirror to our deepest selves and helps us to access that depth in ways we wouldn’t otherwise know how to.  Simply being in the presence of a horse is healing, calming.  They patiently, persistently show us how to be our best selves.  It is an honor and privilege to share a space with these equines, the true yogis!

Tonight’s theme was compassion, and we began class in a restorative pose while I shared a quote from Jack Kornfield:

“True compassion arises from a healthy sense of self, from an awareness of who we are that honors our own capacities and fears, our own feelings and integrity, along with those of others.”

This practice of having compassion toward ourselves is one of great import in yoga and in our lives.  On the mat in asana (posture) practice, we can approach each breath, each movement, with a sweetness in our heart toward our body, its capabilities and its limitations.  With this intention of loving-kindness, we find that we avoid injury and can go deeper into our practice, learning more and more about our physical, energetic and spiritual bodies.  Cows-Chickens-Double-SAs Kornfield says, before we can be of service to others, we must first gain a healthy sense of Self.  Yoga is a system that offers us tools to develop an awareness of who we are, with honesty and patience, allowing us to purify our body/mind with continued practice.  Only then, from a space of clarity and self-awareness, can we truly serve others.

As we refine this compassion practice on the mat, it begins to seep into our lives.  We can consider: what if we awoke each morning brimming with a joyful sense of self-awareness?  What if we lived every moment of the day with a sense of compassion toward our selves?  What if we cultivated unconditional self love, so that no matter what, our hearts stayed open?  What might our day look like?

The horses we love never criticize themselves for having a lameness, or being overweight, or aging, or feeling pain.  Perhaps that is one of the gifts they can offer us: a reflection of how to stay present, how to be compassionate, without judgement or harshness.  With honesty, truthfulness, nonattachment, these equines offer us an approach to living.

I encourage you, as you move through your days, to check in with yourself and see that you are approaching your thoughts, your actions, with compassion.  With acceptance.  With a genuine sense of self love.  You may notice that honing in on this practice enables you to become more compassionate toward others.

I would love to hear about your experience.

ॐ The highest potential within me honors the highest potential within you: Namaste.  ॐ

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Birdsongs, Breath and Rainbows

No, this is not the title of a cheesy love song.  These are the three words that perfectly sum up tonight’s Hayloft Yoga class at Double S!

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I was thrilled to have been joined in the hayloft by some friends from Big Lake Stables!  Sue & Tom’s exchange student from France also joined us, and in addition to a few other familiar faces, the hayloft was full!  What a sweet sense of community.

The birds were especially vocal today, and they sang to us throughout the entire practice!  The horses chewed their hay, the cows grazed outside, there was a single hang glider riding the wind off Blanchard Mountain in the distance.  As the sun began its slow descent across the summer sky, the hayloft was alive with color.  I couldn’t help but think that I have landed in the most perfect moment I could imagine as we began class.

In tonight’s class, we considered the difference between judgement and observation.  In yoga, judgement involves  the ego, like when we think our breath is “too shallow” or “not full enough,” or we how attach to what we think a pose should look because we saw a picture of a bendy person in a magazine, or when we criticize ourselves for having a busy mind and not being able to relax.  Tonight, we collectively set the intention to leg go of judgement and instead honor our power of observation.  When we observe rather than judge, we soften.  We don’t have to be so hard on ourselves.  We notice what is happening in the body, whether it is a sensation or a physical limitation, or the quality of our mind, and instead of attaching to it, we simply watch it in the pose.  If there is pain, instead of getting involved in the story about where the pain came from or how we think it should feel, we simply acknowledge it, and see if we can get into a position that is happier and healthier for the body.  If there is a busy mind, we watch the thoughts come in, acknowledge their presence, and then let them pass, like watching a leaf float down a stream.  SS-RainbowIf there is limitation in a pose, we go to the point of sensation and breathe with intention into the space that is feeling tight, consciously releasing tension on the exhale.

“…imagine what would happen if you started feeling tremendous love for all creatures, for every plant, for every animal, and for all the beauties of nature.  Imagine if every child seemed like your own, and every person you saw looked like a beautiful flower, with its own color, its own expression, shape, and sounds.  As you went deeper and deeper, you would start noticing a phenomenal thing–you are no longer judging.  The process of judging has simply stopped.  There is just appreciating and honoring.  Where there used to be judging, there is now respecting, loving, and cherishing.  To differentiate is to judge.  To see, to experience, and to honor is to participate in life instead of standing back and judging it.”    ~Michael Singer in The Untethered Soul

 

We can go further and take this practice off our yoga mats, into the saddle.  I think of a time when I was younger, riding a horse who had a history of being terribly barn sour.  I was determined to make this horse carry me on a trail ride (ego!).  I started calmly, turning her head side to side, giving her all the rein I could, clucking, squeezing, and leaning forward.  When none of this worked, I kicked her in the sides.  This backfired and she backed up instead of moving forward.  Frustrated, I redoubled my efforts to make her do what she was supposed to.  Instead of recognizing that I had exhausted all the tools I had at the time, ego kicked in.  I am embarrassed to say I kept wailing on her, even using the ends of my reins to force her to move forward, and she just kept backing up toward the corral where her other horse friends were.  She backed up so far (with me still on her, flailing my legs and arms and at this point, even yelling at her) that her rump was touching the fence.  And me, so involved with my ego’s idea of how things should be, kept kicking and clucking and getting nowhere.  It finally took another person coming over to me and saying “maybe it’s time to get off and take this to the round pen,” for me to give up on trying to make it happen.  I was so embarrassed: it was the first time in my life I’d beet told to get off a horse.  And even then, I was reluctant to give up.  I’d thought I had failed at riding, and instead of working with the horse in the roundpen, a new tool for me at that time, I un-tacked her and put her back in the corral, frustrated that she had “won.”

If I hadn’t been so invested in the way I thought things “should” have gone, I might have created an entirely different experience.  If I’d had the mind of observation rather than judgement, I would have noticed that I was having trouble dealing with this horse on my own, and observed that I needed help.  This would have changed the experience into a learning opportunity!  I could have asked for assistance (later that summer, we realized that if someone hand walked this mare away from the barn, just about 50 yards, she was fine).  I could have engaged in a roundpen session under the guidance of the person who suggested it.  I could have gotten off and hand walked her away from the barn.  This could have been a transformative experience for both me and the horse, but because of judgement, I’d shut off that possibility.

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At the core of this teaching: be honest with where you are.  Balance effort (sthira) with ease (sukha).  Notice rather than judge.

I think if we all followed these guidelines, our inner lives and the world we create would be quite a bit more peaceful.  What do you think?

“The essence of bravery is being without self-deception.  However it’s not so easy to take a straight look at what we do.  Seeing ourselves clearly is initially uncomfortable and embarrassing.  As we train in clarity and steadfastness, we see things we’d prefer to deny–judgmentalness, pettiness, arrogance.  These are not sins but temporary and workable habits of mind.  The more we get to know them, the more they lose their power.”                           ~ Pema Chodoron

At the end of class, when we’d all rolled up our mats and headed down from the hayloft, the sun-setting sky greeted us with a fully formed rainbow, just outside, perfectly arcing over the barn!  With the sunset painting half the sky and storm clouds darkening the other, we celebrated joyfully under this symbol of promise.

Namaste.

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