“You mean you do yoga ON your horse?!” A shocked query is usually how news of my practicing horse yoga is received. I prefer to say I practice yoga with my horse—he serves not merely as a prop, but as my partner. The horse bug bit me before I was even out of the womb, my mother being a lifelong equestrian herself. I grew up competing in local hunter/jumper shows and trail riding in the beautiful mountains of western Maryland. I soaked up as much knowledge as I could, reading articles and books by George Morris, Denny Emerson, Sally Swift, Linda Kohanov, Pat and Linda Parelli, and many others. I rode in Dressage, Natural Horsemanship, and Hunt Seat clinics. I continued to compete during my time at Smith College, joining the Equestrian Team and learning the ins and outs of the IHSA. After college I continued to ride, but just for fun. Competition was no longer fulfilling or fun for me. I wanted to dig deeper, into the soul of the horse-human bond.
Yoga found me during my college years. A friend dragged me to a hot yoga class, and I felt pretty sure I was going to die as puddles of sweat gathered on my mat, but at the end, I felt great, like a new person. During savasana (the final relaxation in a yoga class), I found peace and quiet in my mind, which usually raced with to-do lists, worries, needs, wants, wishes, and other noise. I kept coming back to the studio, learning to enjoy the sweat, the movement, and the moments of total stillness within. Yoga gave me a peace I had only ever found in the presence of horses. I continued to practice yoga and explored numerous styles, including Hatha, Power, Vinyasa, Yin, Restorative, Jivamukti, and Aerial. I received my 200-hour teaching certification in May of 2015.
Combining yoga and horses came naturally to me. They were and still are my two biggest passions, and they complement each other. Yoga is a journey of getting to know yourself deeply; horses reflect back to us whatever is within us. In this way, both yoga and horses help us along on our journey of self-awareness and growth. I learn something new every time I step onto my yoga mat. My horse teaches me something every time I see him, whether we go for a ride, practice yoga, or just hang out together in his field. My greatest joy now comes from sharing horse yoga with the world. As a lifelong horsewoman and an RYT-200 (200-hour Registered Yoga Teacher with Yoga Alliance), I have the knowledge to teach others how to combine yoga and horsemanship. My safety and horsemanship standards are unparalleled in the industry. If you’re looking for a unique horseback riding vacation, horse yoga may be perfect for you. Practicing yoga with a horse is exhilarating, humbling, challenging, and rewarding.
If You Go:
Dream Catcher Equine
Horse yoga classes are by appointment only by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The yoga on horseback classes are held at Dream Catcher Equine at Little Heron Lane in Marshall, Virginia. Currently, the cost is $75 per person for 45-60 minute private class. This is a guest post by Angela Nunez. You may learn more about Angela here and more about the facility at http://www.dreamcatcherequineva.com.