“Blessed are the flexible, for they never get bent out of shape.”
This quote comes from Buck Branaman’s foster mother, repeated in the credits of the recent documentary, Buck.” It also makes the perfect segue into our next installment of the Midlife Horses Fitness Challenge. One of our five areas of fitness focus presented in Chapter Four, “Leg Up” of The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses is developing flexibility, balance and “relaxed strength” that comes most easily from acquiring some sort of yoga practice.
Now, I’ve said it before, I’m a fan of Bikram Yoga. Before that I practiced daily with Ali McGraw via DVD, and although I’ve flirted with other practices through the years, those are still my two favorites. There are countless good opportunities out there to develop a yoga practice that meets your time constraints, aptitude, level of conditioning, interests and personality. The best yoga for our purposes is probably Hatha yoga, because it incorporates breathing exercises into every posture that will come in handy when we ride.
But don’t take my word for it. Check out Yoga for Equestrians by Linda Benedik and Veronica Wirth.There are lots of ideas and resources online, as well, along with classes and DVDs popping up everywhere as more and more people are beginning to connect the unmistakable dots between horsemanship and yoga. The word, “yoga” after all, means “union” of mind body and spirit. Isn’t that exactly what we’re after with our horses?
On a lighter note, this topic also gives me the opportunity to post some photos sent to me by my friends at the Fort Worth Horseshoe Club who decided, one overheated summer evening, to try this idea out in our covered arena at night.
Whether this is a simple case of heat-related psychosis or a genuine interest in “horse yoga” (and whether they were really following Yoga for Equestrians or just making it up as they go along) it’s hard to tell. But I do know they had a blast and can’t wait to do it again. Here are a few of the pictures they sent. Be sure to notice the expression on the horses’ faces. Somewhere between “What did I do to deserve this?” and “Humans are weird.”
Comments, suggestions or ideas, anyone? Got some horse yoga photos of your own to share? Got video? Send it!!! We’re waiting to be inspired! (or at least, entertained;)