Lessons Learned from Yoga and Horses

CORRAL horse

Our guest blogger today is Katelin, a local registered yoga teacher, lifetime equestrian and real estate advisor, broker and realtor. She is teaching our first Mindfulness Series session on Wednesday 5/13 at 6:30pm. Register here.

It’s funny how the things we love show up for us in times of uncertainty, even if we are forced to be far away from them. Today, I want to share some of the ways that both yoga and horses teach such valuable life lessons, and ones that we can certainly carry throughout uncertain periods and even in this transition back to ‘normal’.

  1. Breathe: It sounds all too simple, I know, but most often it is the seemingly little things that are the most powerful. When you feel worry, doubt, fear, anxiety, anger…pause, take three breaths. This little act will pull you directly back to the moment you’re in, and the only one you can truly control. It will calm your nervous system and give you a chance to refocus your energy on what can be done now — sometimes that means intentional action, and sometimes that means stopping to hug a loved one, trust in God, and remember that this too shall pass. With horses, when we breathe and relax, they do the same. You have ownership over your being, and you can choose to positively affect everything around you by choosing to be present; your breath is a beautiful segue there.
  2. Move: In whatever way you can, move your body. Horses show us that movement is freedom, be it a toss of the head, or a gallop through fields. Yoga shows us that movement is freedom, be it seated stretches, slow and gentle, or powerful flow. We hold both physical and emotional tension in our bodies, and when we release it, we feel good. We feel better, so move in whatever way feels good and right to you.
  3. Dance: This is a continuation of movement. If you’ve ever seen a horse kick their heels up, throw their head, jump around, and well…dance, you will have seen the joy that exudes from that space. They teach us to let go, even just a little, even in the midst of chaos, and to be silly and to allow ourselves time to play. Put on your favorite song and let it rip. It’s not about how you look, it’s about how you feel. I promise you will feel lighter when it’s over!
  4. Find strength: Be it in your body, your mind, your spirit, or all three. Believe me when I say that there is a deep reservoir of strength and courage that exists inside of you, inside each one of us. Humankind has a remarkable way of persevering, and of doing the unthinkable. I have watched so many yoga students grow from not believing in themselves an inch, to trusting themselves and moving in ways they never imagined they could. We learn from horses the essence of quiet power, and of power that is able to rage like an angry ocean; we are no different. When we turn inside, we can draw on the quiet power. I urge you to trust it.
  5. Forgive: What a beautiful space to forgive. As so many of us are urged to stay home and to be with our closest, we find time to reflect. What have you been holding onto? What is causing you undue stress…can it be time to let go? I will never forget learning about herd dynamics; the way that a horse will bite and kick at another if provoked – this is merely the horse way of saying, “That didn’t feel right.” Thank goodness for spoken language! Every time, almost immediately, as soon as the issue is resolved or the pressure is taken off, the horses just let it go and move on. They get back to their grazing, their playing, their simple being. They don’t hold onto grudges, they don’t carry anger along with them as we tend to. I find that to be so beautiful. Yoga also teaches us that when we forgive, we leave space for new light to come into our lives, we leave space for our own genuine healing, regardless of who is right or wrong.

These are just a few lessons that the things I love have taught me; I hope they will mean something to you. Maybe after reading this, you can ask yourself, “What do I love? What has this love taught me, and how can it make me better now?”

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The CORRAL Riding Academy is a non-profit group operating out of Cary, North Carolina dedicated to bettering the lives of troubled teens and rescued horses.

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