Yoga and horses: A deeper connection
Sharon Hodson interacting with a horse, photo by Leah Dietzen

There’s something magical that happens when you interact with a horse. It’s almost as if you step into a place that is timeless, untouchable, and pure. When I moved to Utah, finding a friend to whom I could connect with horses was at the top of my list of must-haves. It took almost a year to find that kind of person who was working with her horses on a deeper level that transcends the thinking mind and steps into a connection that, when done correctly, is like watching telepathy in action.

I met Walter, an older man with a gentle disposition and a crooked smile, at the yoga studio. He heard that I was teaching an animal communication class, and we struck up a conversation. He mentioned he had horses, and I basically invited myself to come out to visit. As we sat and talked, we both realized the similar path we were on: A path of peace, the realization that energy was a common thread that connected us all, that animals are not meant to be dominated but to form partnerships with and are beings with a connection to a natural element so many of us have lost.

Walter had spent years studying gentle and natural horsemanship when his horse Scarlet began showing him an even better way, a way of working with an animal that was honest and pure. I had spent the previous years studying the vast and varied arts of healing after finding myself at a dead end in life at the age of 27. Through my journey into healing foods, meditation, energy medicine, yoga, nature, and animals, I had healed from a near-death experience brought on by addictions, chronic pain, and crippling depression and anxiety.

From this unlikely friendship with horses along with yoga and energy work, a workshop was born. We called it “A Deeper Connection: Empathic Horsemanship, Yoga, Mindfulness, and Breath.”

Today, as we stood beneath the red rocks of Apple Valley surrounded by a group of amazing people, I felt us all stepping into that timeless space together.

We began our day with some intentional breathing, for when we are aware of the breath, we are aware of and can exercise better control over the mind and emotions. Learning how to breathe can seem deceptively simple, and yet our breath is one of the most powerful healing techniques we can master.

All animals innately have the ability to connect telepathically, and it is how they most often communicate.

We then gathered to practice some gentle yoga with the intention of keeping our breath steady and consistent throughout the practice. I remember the incredible shift that happened a few years ago when I moved from just doing a series of repetitive postures to actually learning how to consistently breathe throughout my practice. Yep, I am that person you hear in many a yoga class who sounds like Darth Vader. Breathing mindfully changed my life. I’ve learned to breathe through discomfort, transition, and joy in my yoga practice and have now extended that into my life. Mindful breathing slows our thoughts down so we can reach that place of inner peace despite outer circumstances.

After our yoga practice in the beautiful sunshine of a perfect fall day, we gathered to learn how to feel and sense the energy fields not only of ourselves but of others as well. In doing this, we learn how to recognize that we are truly all connected and constantly communicating with one another without the use of words. At one point, one of the women mentioned she had a pain in her neck. As I reached out my hands to touch the painful spot, a woman across the room shared that it felt as if my hands were on her shoulder as well. Sensing the energy of others and having the awareness of where we are all connected is a powerful and often startling realization. Hearing about it is one thing, but experiencing it can be something very different.

As we walked out to the horses, Walter shared with the group about the power of honesty. One woman in particular was feeling anxiety in her body but not expressing it. As she walked up to the horse, it backed away. Walter asked her to pause, become aware of her anxiety, and breathe through it. As she became accountable to herself, the horse turned its head gently towards her. It was the power of mindfulness and authenticity in action. Horses do not demand perfection, but they do invite us to be honest about where we are.

All animals innately have the ability to connect telepathically, and it is how they most often communicate. Subtle shifts in energy tell powerful stories to everyone around them. As humans, we have discovered the power of words, a double-edged sword. While words have the ability to transmit information far and wide, words can disconnect us from our feeling and intuitively energetic bodies. How often have you heard someone tell you one thing but their body was telling you something else? Because of words, we have learned to lie to each other and to ourselves. We might say “I’m fine” when internally and energetically we are nervous, frustrated, unsure, or angry.

In order to be 100 percent accountable to ourselves and others, we need to feel more and think less. Animals have the power to show us what we seem to be missing.

It was a powerful workshop teaching universal lessons: to be mindful, honest, and present with ourselves as well as everyone around us, to breathe purposefully through all of life’s ups and downs, and — most importantly — that we are all connected. We are all in this together, so treat others as you would wish to be treated.

This is the gift that all animals and nature provide and why we can feel so timeless and pure when we are with them. They truly do offer us a deeper connection. If you are interested in this workshop, I invite you to join us for our next one, offered Nov. 19 at 11:30 a.m.

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