Tag Archives: Playful

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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New Story Just Published!

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HB-Yoga-General-FlierHere is a smaller version:

 

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June 25, 2013 · 9:59 pm

Documentary: The Path of the Horse

This beautiful and thought-provoking documentary is well worth watching!  Please enjoy.

Follow Our Horses on Facebook.

Official Website: ThePathoftheHorse.org

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Reflections on Hayloft Yoga

We have been graced with the most beautiful weather on Tuesdays since the start of Hayloft Yoga!DSC_0405

Here’s a little news from the hayloft: the owl hutches are full … of baby owls!  Come on out and peek up to see if you might catch a glimpse!

~*~

One of the most tangible benefits of yoga in such a magnificent space is that practicing in the barn offers us the opportunity to sofetn, nurture, and strentghen all of our sense organs:

VISION: EYES
We soften the gaze out toward Blanchard Mountain to give the eyes a break from close-up computer screens, or even simply from being indoors all day, where the most distant ocular point is the wall or the window.  Some of the yoga teachings offer “eye yoga,” exercises for the eyes that can actually improve vision.  There are numerous papers & articles documenting that time outdoors also improves vision, attributed by some to the ultraviolet light, or that the eye muscles get the opportunity to focus on shapes, forms, and colors at a wide variety of distances.  In yoga, the dristi is a single point of focus.  It is most often mentioned in balancing poses (helping us to maintain balance through a point of focus through which we gaze softly).  Keeping a dristi, we see that our mind calms and we can find inner stillness.

We  need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the  friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see  the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence … we need silence to  be able to touch souls.
-Mother Teresa

HEARING : EARS
Our busy lives are filled with so much noise that we tend to shut off from the barage of sensory input in an attempt at self-preservation.  This legitimate form of pollution has wide-ranging adverse health, social, and economic effects.  Cars, jets, TV, radio … it is more important than ever that we take time to give our hearing a break from the barage.  Yoga in the hayloft gives us a beautiful opportunity to listen, really listen, without being accosted with discordant sound that takes us away from our curious awareness and into a defensive state.  In a relaxation pose, we can close the eyes and soften the ear canals toward the throat, unhinging the jaw, and sinking into the support of a blanket.  We tune to the soothing sounds of the horses stirring, eating, shifting their weight in stalls below, the sounds of the songbirds inside and outside the barn, and the voices of frogs, cows, and hawks occasionally greet us.  All of these create a gentle symphony to soothe our sense of hearing, our ability to hear.  This helps us to shift our listening inward and give our inner world our full attention.  We can often be surprised at what we can learn from this simple, gentle exercise of listening in.  It is one of the most wholesome and healthy practices we can engage in.

Silence is more musical than any song.
-Christina Rossetti

TOUCH : SKIN
The yoga postures give us the opportunity to bring our awareness to the skin, which we often take for granted.

It is through your body that you realize you are a spark of divinity.
-B.K.S Iyengar

In the hayloft, we notice the temperature of the air on our skin, we feel our bodies in contact with the floor, and we honor this organ of skin which literally holds our body into one form.  As awareness spreads across the skin, we can gain a sense of gratitude and appreciation for being in this body, alive, moving, breathing, living.  We associate the hands with touch, but we can also explore the sensations of the skin of the rest of the body, stretching in each pose, expanding: the sense of breath on the upper lip, the sense of softening the wrinkles in the face, the sense of spreading the skin of the feet to find a strong yet supple standing posture.  What a glorious organ, the skin!

~*~

I look forward to more practice in the hayloft!

Namaste.

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Try Hayloft Yoga at the Free Yoga Day!

 

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SATURDAY MAY 4,2013

11:00 am –6:00 pm
Room 309 in the Co-op Building downtown Mount Vernon

Yoga instructors from across the Valley offer an entire day of free classes in the upstairs of the Co-op.  Come up to the third floor,kick off your shoes and explore a variety of yoga styles in celebration of all that is offered in the Valley.  Each class starts on the hour every hour beginning at 11 am.  Classes are suitable for all levels (including beginners!).  Bring your own mat if you have one–some supplies will be provided.  Free &Open to the public.  Preregistration not required.

SCHEDULE 

11:00-11:45 am ~ Chara Stuart
Bikram Yoga for Beginners

12:00-12:45 pm ~ Kathleen Grimbly
Healing Musculoskeletal Pain with Yoga Therapy

1:00-1:45 pm ~ Cindi Running
Viniyoga:Therapeutic Yoga

2:00-2:45 pm ~ Jessie Tierney
Yoga for Equine Enthusiasts

3:00-3:45 pm ~ Kate Bowers
Yoga for the Brain

4:00-4:45 pm ~ Jen McFraland
Finding the Grace Within

5:00-5:45 pm ~ Dawn Lee
Gentle Yoga for the Triathlete

 ~*~

CLASS DESCRIPTIONS &TEACHER BIOS

11:00-11:45 am Chara Stuart ~ Bikram Yoga for Beginners

Often known as “Hot Yoga,” Bikram Yoga instructs students in 26 poses and two breathing exercises for health and well-being.  Typically performed in a  heated  studio,we will adapt for this introductory Co-op class by explaining the benefits of the heat,while practicing an abbreviated sequence of poses. During our practice,the health benefits of each pose will also be described.

At Bikram Yoga Mount Vernon,our community of students of all ages and health conditions,practice a sequence of beginning poses in a heated room. These poses are designed to promote health and well-being through systematic contraction and relaxing of muscles with compression and extension of internal systems.  The sequence,with the added benefit of heat,strengthens the body by improving balance and flexibility;and,irrigates and bathes the body’s internal organs and systems with blood flow,which helps to reduce inflammation and stress.  This combination facilitates the delivery of oxygen and nutrition throughout the body and the removal metabolic waste.  Simultaneously, students cultivate a focused mind, infusing their body with awareness and developing the ability to be more present in their lives.  Weight loss is one of many common side benefits of practicing Bikram Yoga.  With a steady practice you will discover the benefits this form of Yoga holds for you.

Hot Yoga Matters at Bikram Yoga Mount Vernon is located in the loft of the historic telephone building,506 south second street,accessible at the east entrance on third street,just blocks from the Skagit Valley Coop.

Kathleen Grimbly

12:00-12:45 pm Kathleen Grimbly ~ Healing Musculoskeletal Pain with Yoga Therapy

Learn to unite body-mind-spirit to heal the causes of pain non-medically.  Whether your pain is chronic or acute,learn a practice that both provides  immediate relief and supports restoration of the body’s design function.  If yoga classes or physical therapy don’t work for you,if you’ve had joint replacement,if you’re skeptical or analytical…come and experience.  Dress in comfortable clothes,bring a blanket or mat and two pillows. The only pre-requisites are the desire to heal your pain and/or posture problems and taking responsibility for your own health.

Kathleen Grimbly,(BA in Education) is a certified Kripalu Yoga Teacher since 1995.

After four automobile accidents,chronic pain,fatigue,fibromyalgia and a permanent partial disability,she studied at Rocky Mt. Institute for Yoga &Ayurveda and learned the Egoscue method to restore her health.  Now she teaches hiking,kayaking,cross country skiing and yoga which balances the body to prevent injury and pain.

Cindy Running

1:00-1:45 pm  Cyndi Running ~ Viniyoga:Therapeutic Yoga

Cindy Running stresses safety first,inviting participants to explore the sensations of the poses while encouraging a non-competitive enviroment.  Cindy cultivates a relaxed,accessible atmosphere in her classes,where participants are free to be themselves,no matter what level of experience they bring.

Cindy Running is a Registered Therapeutic Yoga Teacher,Certified Personal Trainer and a Licensed Massage Practitioner.  Cindy began practicing yoga thirty eight years ago while pregnant with her first child as an effort to stay in shape while pregnant – a lofty goal.  She delivered a large baby without complication or anesthetic.  While studying to become a personal trainer she found yoga to be the single most important part of her work out.  Cindy completed a two year yoga teacher training program in Seattle taught by the acclaimed Laura Yon Brooks  MA/RYT/LMP.  Her classes are a blend of all she gleaned from over thirty years of study,practice and observation.  Cindy teaches from her heart and she hopes she can be a resource for anyone who is seeking their greatest potential.

Riverwalk Yoga Studio  is Mt. Vernon’s hub for massage,yoga,personal training,meditation classes and more.  The studio is located in the newly painted “Tuscan Gold” Carnation Building. 117 N. First,Suite 5,Downtown Mount Vernon – on the main floor facing the river.

Jessie Tierney

2:00-2:45 pm  Jessie Tierney ~ Yoga for Horses &their Riders

Horse Lovers will unite with our breath and practice poses to open our bodies,fostering flexibility,balance,strength,and fluidity. This practice attunes the mind,helping us sharpen focus and deepen the ability to communicate with our equine (and human) friends.  This class is suitable for horse enthusiasts across disciplines with all levels of yoga experience.

Jessie Tierney is a Yoga Alliance Certified &Registered Yoga Teacher.  She studied with Om Ananda Yoga in the Shambhava Tradition.  She teaches yoga to children,leads Yoga-infused Outdoor Education Hikes,Horseback Yoga,Hayloft Yoga,and a variety of studio-based classes.  She works as an aide and teaches yoga at Sedro Woolley Physical Therapy,and also teaches a fun,non-intimidating,riding-inspired yoga practice in the hayloft at Double S Quarter Horses in Bow.

3:00-3:45 pm  Kate Bowers ~ Yoga for the Brain

Yoga for the Brain is a class for all ages.  This class provides a zippy challenge to the brain and body in surprising ways.  We’ll use crazy props like blow pipes and hula hoops.  We’ll clap,tap and rap.  Prepare to laugh.  Bring friends ages 5 and up.

Kate Bowers

Kate Bowers, owner of Cascades Yoga &Neurotherapy,has taught yoga for 16 years and practiced for 32.  She trained extensively at the Integral Yoga Institute in San Francisco,CA and since has been an ardent student of yoga.  For 15 years she studied neurotherapy with neuroscience pioneer,Judith Bluestone.  Bowers obtained HANDLE (R) Institute certification to work with people aged 5 and up with mild neurological and neurobehavioral challenges such as ADD,ADHD,learning of disabilities and mild brain injuries.  Bowers works as both a yoga teacher and neurotherapist with groups and individuals.  Bowers uses gentile humor,compassion and mindfulness to help others explore the self discovery offered by both practices.  She hosts the Yoga Minute radio show on KSVR’s 91.7 FM on Mondays at 5:25 PM.

At the Bow Yoga Club, Bowers teaches small group, private yoga and neuro yoga classes where small dogs Cracker and Godzilla keep it real and inspire loving kindness.  Bowers teaches yoga in Anacortes at Island View Elementary School,the Anacortes Senior Center and the Anacortes Center for Happiness where she currently teaches Neuro Yoga for Kids.  Yoga classes combine traditional and obscure yogic practices with Ayruvedic and neurotherapeutic influences.  Visit the website or call 766-4282.

Jennifer McFarland

4:00-4:45 pm  Jen McFraland ~ Finding the Grace Within

Finding the Grace Within with Jen McFarland of Crescent Moon Yoga is a multi-level yoga class with energy building kriyas,pranayama and inspirational words.

The benefits of yoga,strength,flexibility,and relaxation techniques,are far reaching and promote healthy living. Crescent Moon Yoga offers a variety of classes from Hatha and Vinyasana flow,Anusara,and Iyengar.  Believing in community,our studio utilizes local talent to facilitate special events,workshops and classes to pamper!  Our Yoga studio is located at 521 Morris Street,the Yoga Bliss Building,in La Conner,a quaint little town in the Skagit Valley.  Our focus is yoga for every body.

Dawn Lee

5:00 ~ 5:45 pm  Dawn Lee  ~ Yoga for the Triathlete

Gentle Yoga for the Trialthete is a needed addition for healthy muscles,reduction of injury and prime recovery.  Whether you are seasoned,brand new,or a triathele at heart,yoga is a vital part of training.  We will focus on stretching all the muscles that are used during swimming,riding and running.

Hailing originally from Columbus,Indiana,Dawn Lee combines the midwestern sensibilities of her upbringing with the progressive ideals of the west coast to offer a holistic,attainable approach to wholeness and fitness of mind,body,and spirit. She blends her innate love of the outdoors with her academic training in nutrition and fitness to assist her clients in developing an individualized plan for whole body wellness.

With twelve years experience as a fitness instructor and four years as the owner/operator of Expressive Fit,Dawn has extensive expertise as a yoga instructor,having worked with individuals and groups in a variety of settings. An avid marathoner,cyclist,swimmer,and tri-athlete,Dawn works in team situations to promote individual wellness and team cohesion. She also offers themed workshops to small and moderate sized groups.

Dawn is excited about her latest venture in personal wellness,Skype yoga appointments. Using the flexibility and accessibility offered by current technology,Dawn now offers personal internet yoga sessions,allowing the client the comfort and privacy of their own home while offering the benefit of an instructor led encounter.

See you there!

~*~

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What is Hayloft Yoga?

IMG_9183HAYLOFT YOGA:

This accessible yoga class is specifically designed for horse enthusiasts across disciplines with all levels of yoga experience—beginners are welcome!

On the physical level, practicing yoga improves balance, posture, strength, and flexibility, all translating to a better seat, efficient cueing, and an overall better ride.

On a more subtle level, yoga teaches riders how to address and work through our fluctuating mental states, enabling us to find balance and focus.  From this place of equilibrium, we connect more deeply and communicate more effectively with our equine partners.

Yoga and horses speak the same language: the language of the body.  By learning how to move and breathe consciously in a yoga practice, we are practicing the very skills that allow us to “talk” to our horses through our bodies.

THE LOCATION:

Practice yoga to the sounds of munching horses and that infamous smell all true horse people love. This unique class meets in the upstairs hayloft of Double S Quarter Horses, a beautiful open-air training and lesson facility in Bow, WA. Sue Sultze and Tom Pasma have graciously opened this space where horse enthusiasts can meet for a fun, non-intimidating, riding-inspired yoga practice.  Ample parking is available.  Visit JessieTierney.com for directions.

            Double S Quarter Horses
15213 Colony Road
            Bow, WA 98232

Jessie Tierney, CRYT

Jessie Tierney, CRYT

THE TEACHER:

Jessie leads an alignment-based, intuitive class, responding to the needs and concerns of participants, offering hands-on adjustments and variations that suit each practitioner’s needs. You don’t have to be a pretzel to do yoga!

Yoga gave Jessie the same type of emotional and physical benefits that horseback riding had given her for years when she discovered this powerful practice during college.  While she didn’t have the resources to ride in Chicago during school, she could dedicate a few evenings a week to her yoga practice.  Once she graduated and started riding again, she recognized that despite her time out of the saddle, she was a more balanced, focused, and effective equestrian.

Jessie has taught yoga in the studio, on the trail, in a hayloft, on horseback, to kids and adults.  She is a Certified & Registered Yoga teacher and  an equestrian of 18 years.

BROCHURE-HAYLOFT-YOGA1

Click to download the Hayloft Yoga Informational Brochure.

Please feel free to contact Jessie with any inquiries.

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Benefits of Yoga for Equine Enthusiasts

The practice of yoga benefits riders and their horses both subtly and obviously.  Here are some things we can watch for and celebrate as we learn and grow in our practice.

FLEXIBILITY

This benefit is perhaps the first one we recognize.  After a well-rounded practice, our bodies have moved in all directions, we have created space and heated the body through conscious breathing, and we have stretched comfortably within our limits.  Over time, flexibility increases and we notice our physical limitations expanding.

I can’t recount how many times I have heard, “Oh I can’t do yoga–I’m not flexible enough!”  Yoga isn’t about showing off how flexible you are; it’s about gently coaxing your body toward suppleness and gaining flexibility over time.  It is a practice, and it may not happen overnight.

Flexibility is beneficial in the saddle.  Even though we aren’t exactly riding in a specific yoga position (though some–myself included–would point out that sitting on a horse is yoga), a flexible body has fluidity: it moves efficiently and gracefully with the dynamic movements of the horse.  Try sitting a trot with your shoulders scrunched toward your ears and you will feel a dramatic example of how a lack of flexibility impacts your riding (then be sure to pat your horse afterward and thank him for letting you experiment).

With flexibility comes ease: notice the difference between a limber horse who has warmed up and a stiff horse who has just stepped out of its stall, or a horse who will bend easily to slight pressure and a horse who resists the bridle.  Visible grace arises out of flexibility, and this concept applies to both horses and humans.

BALANCE

Physically, as we age or through lack of practice, we lose our balance more easily.  This can be remedied simply by engaging in balancing activities.  All Hayloft Yoga classes have a balance component, with modifications that are accessible to anyone.

Physical balance translates to staying centered in the saddle through every gait and transition.  Yoga develops muscles that aid in balancing through seated, standing, and moving postures.  In the saddle, we find greater ease and stability as a result of the yoga practice.  Our horses will appreciate our integrity and ability to support their movements through our heightened sense of balance.

BODY AWARENESS & COMMUNICATION

Unlike humans, who primarily use words and tone of voice to express ideas, horses rely on what we consider subtle physical cues.  As a prey species, horses are far more sensitive to physical messages.

As we practice yoga, we heighten our awareness of the messages we send through our bodies.  We become more intentional in how we move.  We begin to notice the impact of posture, the energy in our seat, and the awareness of our breath.  In these ways, we learn to communicate with our horses with more clarity and effectiveness.

CLARITY & A HEALTHY MENTAL FRAMEWORK

By focusing our attention on the physical body and the breath, a yoga practice clears the mind of distractions and makes this mental state more readily accessible.  We gradually realize that mental clarity is a choice: it is a matter of taking a moment to breathe rather than getting wrapped up in external circumstances.

Yoga can teach us patience, persistence, grace, humility, courage … the list goes on.  When we’ve had a rough day and arrive at the barn frazzled, we often find after just a few minutes of grooming or riding, our troubles have melted away and we’ve gained a healthy perspective again.

Yoga empowers us to create the same impact: no matter how busy or chaotic the day has been, a few minutes of breathing deeply brings us to center.  It only takes a moment.

This mental clarity can benefit us before we enter the show ring, as we get prepare to mount a nervous horse, on the trail, in the arena–virtually every circumstance we encounter.

AN INVITATION

I invite you to share some of the benefits you have found in  your practice in the form of a Comment or Reply, below.

Thank you and Namaste.

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Yoga on Horseback, Really?

Yes!

But it’s definitely NOT about turning yourself into a pretzel on your horse.

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At first glance, yoga on horseback may seem like an impossible and potentially unsafe merging of opposites. However, it is important to consider some of the core principles of yoga: in these principles we find what truly unifies riding and yoga.

Yoga is not the simple act of turning oneself into a pretzel; it combines mindfulness with breath and a myriad of other subtle practices in hopes to achieve Union (of body-mind-heart-spirit). Horseback riding, when done with mindful, embodied intention, truly unites horse and rider through its own subtle techniques. Both yoga and riding are a practice–not to be mastered overnight.

Being horseback is NOT like riding a motorcycle.  Your horse has a mind; it has its own personality, its own need for safety, for connection, for oneness with its herd.  Attaining trust and understnding to the point where a horse allows a prey animal–the human–to ride astride is miraculous.  It requires that the rider is in tune with her body, with the energy she emits, with her thoughts.

In the study of equestrian arts and the science of yoga, I have found more similarities than I could have imagined. After having grown up on horseback, then finding yoga when horses were no longer a part my life, I now find a union of this art and science to be natural and intuitive. Consider alignment, for instance. It is virtually the same in Sukhasana as in sitting in a saddle: rooted through the seat bones, spine tall, shoulders back and down, chin parallel with the earth. The more subtle elements of a yoga practice–the breath, quieting the body, centering the mind–are equally applicable and in fact instrumental in achieving a focused, unified ride with an equine partner. As I began teaching Horseback Yoga in the foothills of Pikes Peak, Colorado, my perceived limitations floated away on nearly every exhale–my riders were able to do virtually anything they set their minds to.

I currently offer Horseback Yoga classes at Double S Quarter Horses. Please contact me if you are interested in setting up a Horseback Yoga Workshop.

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HOW HORSEBACK YOGA WORKS
Here I will offer a simplified step-by-step outline to paint a picture of one shape Horseback Yoga can take. This is by no means meant as an instructional piece. Practitioners and riders should seek the guidance of a professional before attempting these exercises on their own.

So sit tall, take a deep breath, and enjoy this step-by-step approach to Union with the horse.

HORSEBACK YOGA

1. SET YOUR INTENTION

  • Remember that the objective of Horseback Yoga is to achieve Union with the horse, with your bodies, minds, hearts and souls (not necessarily to do some crazy pretzel pose on horseback).
  • Your intention can be anything you wish to cultivate in the practice. Some examples could be Boundaries, Courage, Oneness, Stillness, Friendship, Strength, Growth, Inner Peace, Serenity … anything that comes to mind.
  • Take a moment to strongly identify with your intention. Feel it in your cells, your body. Then allow it to float away on the exhale, trusting that the acknowledgment is enough to keep it with you throughout the practice without grasping onto it. You may seal your intention by saying “OM.”

2. BECOME CONGRUENT: BE PRESENT WITH YOUR SELF

  • Tune into your inner state and feel what you are feeling. Your horse already senses your deep emotional state and is waiting for you to become congruent with your emotions.
  • Be patient with yourself as you look inward. There is no rush.  This moment is the point; the journey is the point. Often your horse will let you know that you have aligned through a lick of the lips or a lowering of the head.

3. BE PRESENT WITH YOUR HORSE

  • Observe your horse. Horses speak in a language that is totally body- and energy- aware. Watch for some of your horse’s signals:
    • Ears–your horse’s attention is where his ears are pointing. Is your horse listening to you? To the other horses? To the fly biting his right side? Is there a threat? Ears relaxed and to the sides with one following your movements is what you can be looking for.
    • Eyes–with observation you can see fear (whites of the eyes showing), calmness (eyelids drooping), and many more emotions through the eyes
    • Licking lips–processing, agreement, “I get it!”
    • Lowering head–listening, relaxation
    • Nodding head–urging you to speak, agreement
    • Swishing tail–annoyance
    • Resting one leg–relaxation

4. INTERACT WITH YOUR HORSE

  • Your horse will respect you if you respect him. Respond to the signals he gives you throughout the grooming process. Scratch his itchy spots. Rub his sore spots.
  • Take your time grooming to really get to know your horse’s favorite areas. Grooming is a conversation between you and your horse which can solidify a connection before you mount.
  • SOCIAL GROOMING is essential for the well-being and survival of horses in the wild. As you scratch your horse’s withers, don’t be surprised if he turns around and nibbles your shoulder in reciprocation!

5. LEAD YOUR HORSE TO THE PRACTICE SPACE

  • Your Practice Space can be an arena, pasture, trail, or roundpen.
  • Establish boundaries with your horse by playing the Stop and Go game—Your horse should anticipate when you stop walking and freeze all four feet when you exaggeratedly halt. If he does not, ask him to back a few steps before walking on.
  • Your horse should respect your space by walking behind you. If you need to remind your horse of these boundaries, turn toward the horse and tug or shake the lead rope back below the horse’s chin until your horse backs a step or two. You may need to continue to work with this until you have learned to establish your boundaries and your horse learns to respect them.

6. WARM UP

  • Halt your horse in the Practice Space.
  • Tune into your breath. Flow through some gentile warm-up postures beside your horse to warm up your body.
  • Possible poses: Surya Namascar, side bends, chest openers, Trikonasana, Virabhadrasana I and II.
  • Observe your horse as you flow through your warm up.

7. WARM YOUR HORSE UP

  • Horse-Asanas: Bend your horse’s head/neck to the right and left without moving his feet, arch his neck, stretch his neck, lift and sink his belly (horse version of Cat/Cow).
  • Gently extend your horse’s legs through their safe range of motion, one at a time, with attention to your horse’s breathing: pause when you horse inhales and lengthen when your horse exhales.
  • Massage your horse’s withers, neckline, back, rump.
  • Move your horse’s tail: pay attention to his reaction, only go as far as he is comfortable with.

8. MOUNT

  • We ride bareback for greater ability to feel your horse beneath you.
  • Mount gracefully, on your horse’s exhale, using whatever method is most appropriate for your body (mounting block? leg up? railing?) and most kind to your horse (while it may be thrilling to take a running leap, what would your horse most appreciate?).
  • Find your seat bones. Sink deep.

9. SYNCHRONIZE YOUR BREATHING

  • Listen and feel for your horse’s breath.
  • Here is part of why we ride bareback: your legs will gently expand with your horse’s inhale. It is extremely subtle; it is helpful to close your eyes.

10. SLOW AND LENGTHEN YOUR BREATHING

  • Deep, slow diaphragmatic breaths.
  • Watch for your horse to lower his head or sigh; notice if your horse relaxes one leg.
  • Pat your horse or scratch his withers when he has relaxed with you.

Click below to enlarge the photos and to view as a slideshow!

~*~

11. HORSEBACK ASANAS

  • Maintain the awareness of your breath and your horse’s breath throughout the entire practice helps keep both species focused yet relaxed and receptive to the Aśva-pṛṣṭhasanas (Poses on horseback).

Practitioners and riders should seek the guidance of a professional before attempting these exercises on their own.

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Yee-Haw, Namaste Part I

Written by Jessie Tierney, Certified Yoga Instructor and Summer 2011 Wrangler at Sanborn Western Camps.

HorseYoga2By far the most gratifying part of my third summer at Sanborn has been the opportunity I’ve been offered to teach girls yoga on (and off) horses.

On our four-day pack trip, seven ladies and two counselors joined me in a quest to find a deeper connection to Horse and Self through yogic principles.

Many people associate yoga with postures and flexibility (the asanas), which, while an important part of this practice (and especially photogenic), is not the entire picture. Through four days of waking up early to let the horses out to graze, practicing breathing, long rides on and off-trail, technical riding practice and games in the arena, discussing qualities of exceptional humans and horses, practicing patience and persistence, we began to explore some of the more subtle aspects of Yoga and how Yoga can apply to our lives on and off the horses.

I was inspired by this group of ladies–they were eager to learn more about their mounts and had a deep commitment to strengthening their bond with their horse over a short four days. They all succeeded. One of the horses who was often skiddish and would often pull back on the lead rope, shying away when approached by a human, seemed to settle into his skin, so to speak, and actually watched for his rider, following her with calmer eyes than I had seen on him since I met him. Another horse who is known for prancing on the trail and rarely flat-walking seemed to melt under his rider as she practiced slow, long breaths. The sweet mule on our trip who did have a mule-like stubbron tendency when she was away from her buddy in the herd seemed to replace that horse-partner with her human-partner, nickering when her rider walked near. These were subtle differences that might not be noticed if we weren’t watching for them, but the nature of this long trip allowed for us the extra time and space for observation and reflection.

HorseYoga3

Not only the horses benefited from this trip. Each girl in turn seemed to more willingly take on the responsibility for her horse than I have seen in my years of leading horse trips. Her investment in the welfare of her horse was great, and I heard not one single “are we done yet?” while we let the horses graze for four hours (instead of three) each morning and each evening, under steady watch of their riders. Girls willingly volunteered to contribute to our small community’s well being–”Should I take down these tents?” “Do you want me to collect the dishes?” “Can I let my horse graze some more?” “Do you need to borrow my headlamp?” The counselors and I honored these qualities in the girls by awarding them aspen leaves, a GROW STRONG tradition at Sanborn, naming qualities like LeadershipHelpfulnessOptimismGreat Attitude in each girl and writing the instance down on a leaf. The ladies cheered for one another in our evening circles, and we discussed ideas like Community, Leadership, and Integration.

The entire feeling of this long trip was serene. I don’t remember ever feeling over-tired or stressed (common sentiments Grazingon any typical long trip). Yet it was not any small feat; this four-day trip that took the ladies and their mounts off-campus. I think what made the difference between this trip and others I have led was our strong, unified Intention that we took the time to set at the beginning of our journey. I think it helped that we practiced yoga in various forms throughout the trip: Meditation, an active Asana Practice, Partner Yoga, “Hawking Yoga” (in the field next to a grazing horse), Bareback Yoga. We had an excellent discussion on GRATITUDE, and how the simple act of waking up in the morning and listing off five things we are grateful for can totally set the stage for the day or pull us out of any funk. We spoke about how attitude is a choice and that we can choose, literally, to be joyful. HorseYoga1One of the girls started out the trip rolling her eyes at a lot of these ideas, but after our Attitude discussion, she was all smiles and seemed to get a lot out of the activities she’d previously felt were juvenile.

I am so proud of these girls. They trusted one another, they slowed down and allowed themselves time for reflection, they became vulnerable to one another and shared their inner and outer observations. These are all things that our culture rarely allows time for. Even camp, which is meant to provide for these opportunities, can feel cramped for time and space when we have so many objectives and goals in mind. I am so grateful to the folks “in charge” at Sanborn for allowing such a trip to happen, for their encouragement!, and for trusting that it is truly not the destination but the journey that matters.

YEE-HAW, NAMASTE!

Click here for more Tails from the Barn.

 

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Filed under Horseback Yoga Workshops, Inspirations