Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Hatha yoga on horseback
Put away any expectation of going riding, at least for now.
From the back of your horse, let go of any preconceived notion of riding alignment, just let the legs drape, soften, be supported by the barrel of your horse. Feel your breath, feel the breathing of your horse through your inner leg. Observe your thoughts. Notice how you feel, your emotion of the moment.
"Good horse training is boring to watch (unless you understand what you are seeing)".
I wish I could remember the exact quote by Ron Meredith of Meredith Manor but that's the essence of the quote. In lieu of having that exact quote at hand, check out the training articles over at the Meredith Manor website, or any of the articles over at Desert Horse Equestrian. Not flashy, just sound application of logic with compassion when it comes to working and playing with your horse. Being in this yoga of relationship with a horse, whether you are riding or being with the horse on the ground, doesn't look like much to the casual observer.
In yoga with your horse, we are including ourselves in this logic with compassion as means to explore what it means to be human, what it means to be human in relationship with horse.
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali tell us that our posture should be 'sthira sukha' - stable and comfortable. So our yoga on horseback is finding that balance where both the rider and the horse are sthira sukha.
A good place to start is by releasing the agenda of riding, at least for awhile, and replacing it with the objective of simply finding stability and comfort while on the back of the horse. No place to go, nothing to do, but to feel your sit bones connecting with the back of your horse. From here, you can notice if there are areas of tension in thighs, back, shoulder, neck, jaw. Whose? Either. Engage your inner calf - what happens? Enter in to the exploration in a spirit of play, just for awhile.
Sure, we can do some pretty interesting and helpful hatha yoga postures while on our horse, but just as you would do in a yoga class, we start with finding out just where we are.