Yoga & Horses teach similar lessons

A stunning late fall afternoon. 9 year old has a riding lesson. I decide to ride Java and grab a halter. The 3 boys in with him decide to get rambunctious and everyone bolts from me like I am the boogeyman as soon as I enter the paddock. Dammit. Horses run, stop, eye me suspiciously like they have never seen me before, run again. I pause, try to approach again, then make them run more (= work) when they turn their butts to me disrespectfully. Double dammit. Ionlyhaveanhourtorideandneedtocatchmyhorse. The sound of pounding hooves stomps out any plan I may have had in mind. 

Stop. Breathe. Make myself less predator-like. Scan my body, breathe out tension. Soften. Java and the horse he is shielding himself behind are breathing heavily, in and out, in and out. I do the same, but in a calmer manner. I keep my eyes down and walk towards them slowly. Nobody moves. There is that moment I so want to act like a predator to speed things up, to throw the halter around his neck in one fast sweeping movement. I resist that temptation and talk softly to both horses. Horse breath, in and out, in and out. It feels like slow motion as I gently halter my horse. He breathes. I breathe. We walk together. Game over.

You know that feeling when you are rushing to get to a yoga class on time? It’s almost comical how stressed we can get going to YOGA. We arrive in a frenzy and hurl our mats down, omg I have to go to the bathroom before class starts, where is my water bottle did I leave it in the car. Inevitably this frenzied state spills over into the first part of class – we breathe too fast as we attempt to center and transition into yoga mode, we race through the first few sun salutations. Then, something clicks and we remember why we are on our mat. 

Why do I spend time with horses? Not just to ride them, but to learn from them. To be reminded to run, to breathe, to live in the moment. Yoga and horses - similar lessons. I am so grateful for both. 

Photo of Java by 2014 Cowgirl Yogatographer Jana

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