Yogic Path

This Is How Horse Yoga Can Help You Deepen Your Practice

Updated on 16 August 2020 • 5 minute read
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Horse yoga. 

It might seem like just another addition to the latest fad of adding animals to a yoga practice. 

First came Doga with dogs, then came Goga with goats, and now this. 

But there may be more depth and reasoning to horse yoga (equestrian yoga) than meets the eye. 

 

Why horses make good yoga partners

For starters, horses are typically non-judgemental creatures that are particularly good at mirroring a person’s emotional state and behavior. 

That makes them particularly good partners if you’re after a transformational experience that can help you shed light on your own patterns, beliefs, and reactions. 

Horses are also acutely aware of their surroundings – the sounds, vibrations, and energy. 

They can be alert and present, yet calm and settled. 

This is a powerful skill we can learn from them. 

 

Horse yoga can deepen your practice in ways you hadn’t thought of before

The overall purpose of yoga is to experience union and connection – within ourselves first and foremost and then with others and the outside world.

With this one key distinction in mind, it’s easy to see how connecting to a horse can help you experience a different facet of this yogic understanding. 

It’s also important to note that although we typically think of yoga as a purely physical practice, there are other limbs and practices that encompass the entirety of Classical Yoga. 

According to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, one of the oldest authoritative texts on Classical Yoga, the Yogic Path is comprised of 8 limbs or stages: 

 

  • Yamas – Self-regulating behaviors

 

      1. Ahimsa – Non-violence
      2. Satya – Truthfulness
      3. Asteya – Even-exchange
      4. Aparigraha – Non-attachment
      5. Brahmacharya – Non-excess

 

  • Niyamas – Personal observances 

 

      1. Saucha – Cleanliness
      2. Santosha – Contentment
      3. Tapas – Self-discipline
      4. Svadhyaya – Self-study
      5. Ishvara Pranidhana – Surrender

 

  • Asana – mindful body movement & meditational postures
  • Pranayama – regulation of your vital energy via the breath
  • Pratyahara – Turning the senses inward 
  • Dharana – Holding one-pointed focus
  • Dhyana – Deep meditation
  • Samadhi – Union & Transcendence of your limitations 

 

Believe it or not, practicing yoga with a horse can actually help you address many of these yogic points: 

  • By connecting with the horse in a non-exploitative, peaceful way you’re experiencing Ahimsa. 
  • Horses don’t lie or have ulterior motives so they teach you how to be true in the moment too. (Satya) 
  • The entire premise of horse yoga is based on an exchange between you and your horse and when done properly, this exchange is balanced and pure. (Aparigraha) 
  • Being near a horse helps you appreciate cleanliness a lot more, right? (Have you ever been around horse dung?) (Saucha) 
  • Horses teach you to experience appreciation and contentment in the moment. (Santosha) 
  • It can be intimidating and daunting to connect with a horse let alone saddle up and practice poses on it! Tapas is all about growth and discipline in the midst of the uncomfortable. 
  • Because they are so good at mirroring, horses can teach you a lot about yourself, your reactions, your attitudes, and your behaviors. (Svadhyaya) 
  • Because it can be intimidating to approach a horse, especially if you don’t have much previous experience, a good amount of surrender will be required. Horse yoga isn’t about controlling the horse or the situation as much as it is about experiencing the moment with detachment. (Ishvara Pranidhana)
  • Asana practice looks different on horseback – there’s much more focus on the breath and arm movements and also balancing poses on the horse’s back. 
  • A very important aspect of connecting your energy to the horse’s energy is breathing. It can be a very powerful experience to be in silence with the horse. To touch it and breathe with it. It can be very purifying. (Pranayama) 
  • Horse yoga requires your full awareness and attention. You’ve got to be aware of the horse’s state and their response to you along with managing your own experience. This requires a one-pointed focus. (Dharana) 

 

Additional horse yoga benefits

Another benefit of horse yoga is that it teaches you how to be more assertive and confident, and that’s something many of us care to master. 

Horses, like dogs, crave connection, leadership, and trust. 

We must proceed with calm confidence when managing and directing them. 

 

Horse yoga is similar to a therapeutic practice called horse therapy or equine-assisted therapy. 

This kind of therapy involves both a therapist and a horse specialist and centers around supervised interactions between a person and the horse. 

The goal of horse therapy is to help a person develop certain skills like confidence, assertiveness, self-control, problem-solving capacity, and accountability. (1)

Studies indicate that possible benefits of horse therapy include: (1)

  • Emotional awareness
  • Empathy
  • Stress resilience
  • Flexibility
  • Impulse control 
  • Independence
  • Self-regard
  • Interpersonal relationships

 

How it benefits the horse, too

And while there are clearly many benefits that horse yoga can offer us, it’s not a one-way street. 

Horses are also benefitted too. 

Don’t forget that horses are very muscular creatures. 

That means they also experience muscle soreness and tension. 

Asanas performed correctly on the horse’s back serve as a massage for them. 

And who doesn’t like a tension-relieving massage, right? 

 

 

 

 

References: 

(1) https://www.crchealth.com/types-of-therapy/what-is-equine-therapy/

 

More Info

Less Info

Windhorse Relationship

WindhorseRelationShip is a unique equestrian experience mirroring balance and harmony in nature. It’s not goal oriented horse training, it’s about building right relationships. It’s a process that creates the experience of kinship: “Where Heart Meets Horse.”

The focus in upon creating a safe environment for communication, understanding the mustang’s language and perspective, changing fear into mutual trust and confidence as you become the leader in a willing partnership. Mary Lee teaches useful training skills acquired over fifty years of professional education and experience. However, “It’s not what you do; it’s how you do it.” That makes the difference.

WindhorseRelationShip is about working with the nature of the horse with balance, timing, and feel. The power of self-awareness and non-verbal communication with the horse allows the human to create willing relationships based on trust, which transforms fear into respect, and respect into response. When the human heart meets the wild horse in love and understanding the teachings circle back to transform and empower the man spirit.

Horsemanship should be horse/human kinship based upon a partnership of mutual respect and understanding for a common purpose. The kind of relationship will determine the enjoyment and level of accomplishment for the horse/human team. The basic skills and disciplines required cannot be mastered without harmony and balance whether trail riding, jumping, executing patterns or working cattle. Equitation is form with function and the most important function is for the human to learn how to get along with the horse and accept him as his/her teacher.

 M.E.E.T the mustangs

mustang educational, experiential training

M.E.E.T. is the development of a relationship based on trust, willingness, and respect. Most participants have little or no prior experience with horses. In fact, many participants arrive with fear of horses and learn to overcome their fear. Fear, stress, anxiety, trauma, depression, and anger are replaced with peace, strength and emotional balance. This transformation occurs within the horse as well as the human. In our M.E.E.T. workshops, seminars and trainings, participants, come to understand the horse’s perspective toward humans. They learn to observe the horse”s nonverbal language. A critical component of this training is to create a safe space for the horse and the participant. During this process the horse is never restrained and always has the freedom to flee if threatened or frightened. Our technique “working the edge” teaches the participant to bridge the distance between fear and respect. The participant begins to understand the role as predator in a predator vs. prey society and learns that aggression is a result of one”s fears.

Windhorse Relations customizes trainings based on the needs of each group and the unique needs of the participants. Here are some examples and comments from past trainings and programs.

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M.E.E.T The Mustangs

WHERE HEART MEETS HORSE – WINDHORSE RELATIONS

Mustangs, the American wild horses, are survivors, yet they are peaceful, loving animals. They teach how to empower yourself and become the creative leader of your own life.Wild horses are the “land dolphins” of healing the heart, spirit, and body. A Windhorse Mustang will guide you into a space of unconditional love, insight and renewed vision. As you create a willing relationship with your Windhorse partner, inner wounding will heal and a new perspective and wholeness will emerge.

No equine experience is needed. Mary Lee and her expert staff will guide you through this unique personal experience that provides the opportunity to discover oneself outside of the labels, expectations, or limitations.

Creating a willing relationship with a Windhorse Mustang can teach you to:

  • Set a clear intention from the heart.
  • Be an observer and learn to read the mustangs’s non-verbal language.
  • Create a safe environment for communication.
  • Allow a horse to choose to be with you.
  • Establish respect and leadership.
  • Follow the energy of what is presented in the moment.
  • Create and adjust.
  • Learn the power of intention.
  • Build resiliency by transforming fear into trust and confidence.
  • Enjoy feeling connected, peace, love, and being in the moment.

Our programs can be particularly important for adolescents. Our mustangs provide safe, wise, and courageous mentoring and mirroring. Let them reflect your wisdom and goodness. They are trustworthy confidants for the private, inner struggles teens face today. Partner with these American legends who embody authenticity, integrity, courage, pride, tenacity, and curiosity. Join us for an amazing adventure in self discovery!

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There is just as much horse sense as ever, but the horses have most of it. ~ Anonymous

Riding a horse through the bad lands and red rock canyon areas of southern Utah is a unique way to enjoy true western hospitality. Pick a good steed, have a cantine and let your sure footed friend carry you through history as you experience the desert wilderness the way the cowboys see it. Quiet canyons and desert breezes are your company as you trod through the scenic back areas of this great land.

will arrange your tour and pack you a lunch. Afterwards we suggest a full body massage and a soak in our full size jacuzzi tubs available in every room to reflect on the experience.

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Meet The Mustangs

Where Heart Meets Horse – Windhorse Relations

Mustangs, the American wild horses, are survivors, yet they are peaceful, loving animals. They teach how to empower yourself and to survive the addictions in our society by becoming the creative leader of your own life.

Wild horses are the “land dolphins” of healing the heart, spirit, and body. A Windhorse Mustang will choose you and guide you into a space of unconditional love, insight and renewed vision. As you create a willing relationship with your Windhorse partner, inner woundings will heal and a new perspective and wholeness will emerge.

No equine experience is needed, only a willingness to join in a powerful, spiritual journey with a Windhorse Mustand, facilitated by Mary Lee Brighton, Marica Thayne, and Pam Russo.

The seminars follow the same pattern Mary Lee uses in gentling and teaching American wild horses as they transform into Windhorse teachers. By “Creating a Willing Relationship you will:

  • Set a clear intention from the heart.
  • Be an observer and learn to read the mustangs’s non-verbal language.
  • Create a safe environment for communication.
  • Allow a horse to choose to be with you.
  • Establish respect and leadership.
  • Follow the energy of what is presented in the moment.
  • Create and adjust.
  • Learn the power of intention.
  • Build resiliency by transforming fear into trust and confidence.
  • Enjoy feeling connected, peace, love, and being in the moment.

Mary Lee transforms these fearful, powerful mustangs into Windhorse teachers through a process guided by the intention to “Create a Willing Relationship” and using a technique she calls “Working the Edge,” which shifts fear into curiosity and opens the door to trust, confidence, and self-revelation.

Each session is unique. The chemistry of the person’s energy combined with their Windhorse partner creates a special. personal experience that passes all understanding.

Mary Lee has focused over ten years and a life time as a student, horsewoman and teacher to create this experience.

M.E.E.T. the Mustangs programs afford the opportunity to discover oneself outside of the labels, expectations, or limitations imposed by previous membership in primary or secondary groups. Autonomy, individuation, differentiation, separation and self-realization are a part of any transition experience. The journeys from childhood to adolescence, adolescence to adulthood, parenthood to empty nester, employed to retired, single to married, married to single, retired to twilight call all be a joyous adventure rather than a cycle of rebellion, self destruction, or self deprecation.

Our programs can be particularly important for adolescents. They provide the essential component of a safe, outside place without any ego investment in the paths one chooses, that produces resilience. The individual has the opportunity to try on new selves that represent their individuality. Thus, there is no need for rebellion against the status quo that is sometimes the only option teens think the have for the vital and healthy individuation and differentiation needed for successful launching. Our mustangs provide safe, wise and courageous mentoring and mirroring. Let them reflect your wisdom and goodness. They are trustworthy confidants for the private, inner struggles teens face today.

In our programs there are no labels, expectations or preconceived notions of the individual which restrict the adventures that enhace our life experiences and build life lessons that strengthen our characters and feed our souls. Partner with these American legends who demonstate what has made America great. They embody authenticity, work ethic, integrity, courage, pride, tenacity, curiosity, and wonder. Let the adventure begin!

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Deepen Your Practice

Useful insights to bring the essence of yoga into everyday moments.