Wednesday, January 30, 2013


I went to my first yoga class in what feels like, and is realistically probably close to, 6 months last night. My love for yoga is pretty sporadic, and is often limited by time. Ie. If i'm not at school, i'm working. If i'm not working, I should be riding. If i'm not riding, I should be studying. If i'm not riding OR studying, I'm feeling guilty and moping around and being lazy. However, my flabby stomach, and my utter lack of respect for my body by pumping it with as many carbs as humanely possible lately, has reminded me that maybe I should start being a litttttle healthier, okay a lot healthier. I'm trying. That's all that matters.

Anyways, I managed to make it to Yoga, and our instructor was getting us to start deep breathing/inward thinking/all that yoga jazz. I am a mental drifter, and so my mind was drifting around my life when I heard her voice say, "What do you think about when your given nothing to think about?".... well, what do you guys think I think about? Horses. Namely - one big pissy-pants Paint horse.

My only reason for getting my butt into that class was the fact my back feels like one big ball of tension - mainly in my right shoulder blade. I'd been doing so much physiotherapy in the spring and fall that once my physio ended, I think my back felt a little stranded and tightened waaaay up. The class was a flow class, so, we would practice certain movements, she would ask us to isolate certain muscle groups, "open" up others, etc. Then, you put it all together and move through the positions in a flow.

I was doing my thing, you know... sweating buckets and probably looking like a semi-drowned Moose clambering onto shore. The class was close to over when she had us on our backs doing some easy stretching. We were doing some pose probably called "Praying Eagle eats Grasshopper" or something, so one leg was propped up, with the other leg over top, and you were suppose to pull your legs toward your chest - easy. I thought.

She came over and reminded me to arch my back a bit more - so I did. She told me I was arching my chest, and asked me again - to arch my back. I tried. I failed. She put her hand on my chest and her other hand poked my back in an attempt to get me to isolate it. I tried. It kinda worked but not really. She asked me to "draw down my pelvis" - Yoga instructors always say things like this that make you want to throw something at them - how the heck does one "draw down their pelvis"? I attempted, my back caved. She poked my back again and asked me if I knew how to isolate my back? Well, apparently I do not. In the end I kind of figured out the pose... but it wasn't great, and it wasn't easy.

As I was being poked and prodded my mind drifted to Jingle, and suddenly - I realized that I had switched roles with my horse. Someone was basically lightly encouraging me with small pokes (spurring), and although she knew what she was asking of me - I just couldn't get it. All through the class I had been asked to isolate certain muscle groups, work in ways that didn't entirely feel natural, and then put it all together and just "flow". More often than not my flow wasn't as beautiful and ethereal as I had wanted it to be.

So, it's an interesting lesson in patience, in asking for certain things one must remain patient. I often have the tendancy to completely release pressure when he does something really well - exactly how I want it done, but I often forget to give him that bit of a release when he achieves the steps towards the greater goal.

It is also a lesson in listening, there was many poses in that class that other people struggled with that I found easy-peasy, and then there were some, like my aforementioned stretch, that should have been a cake walk, and suddenly I found myself really struggling with. That's because before, I was cheating the pose, afterwards, I was doing it correctly - but it was hard. Hard enough that it didn't feel natural, and so why would I continue practicing it? Oh right - because my Yoga instrcutor was there to be confident, and tell me it was okay, and that it was good for me. Sound familiar? So often, we as riders, and our horses "cheat". You see this a lot with fake collection/poor headsets, but I think "cheating" appears all throughout riding, and often - it's not obvious your "cheating" when you are.

So, maybe this new found "Zen" mindset will help remind me of patient, and clear confident communication in my rides from now on? Now, if only I could figure out how to harness Jingle's pissed off energy for good and not evil.... ;)

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