From the 31th of March until the 4th of April Christophe Mouze, Ciara Cullen and I were teaching the workshop “Connecting with horses through Sati Yoga & Horsefulness Training” on Clare Island, an island on the west-coast of Ireland. It’s the place were Christophe and Ciara live and run their yoga retreat centre and organic farm.
The goal of this workshop was to let people experience how to work with their horse on a deeper and broader level and how to connect with horses through Sati Yoga and Horsefulness Training.
Why the combination of Sati Yoga & Horsefulness Training?
When you are with your horse, the way you use your body is of great importance. If you know that horses are masters in reading body language, then it’s easy to understand why you better keep your body fit and develop more body awareness.
But, that’s not all: also on the mental, emotional and spiritual level it’s important to be balanced, in connection with yourself. Because horses are magnetically attracted to people who are in connection with themselves, to people who are aware and have inner peace.
So being with horses and training horses is developing yourself on every level and also practicing yoga is developing yourself on every level. That’s why the 2 complement each other so well. Christophe also talks about that in his article “Yoga and horsemanship, two practices that support one another”.
In that article he says:“The most important parallel is that both disciplines offer a path of self development through awareness and kindness.”
So much styles of yoga, why Sati Yoga?
Sati Yoga is a form of yoga in which the asanas (body exercises) are combined with pranayama (breathing exercises) and mindfulness meditation in such a way that there is a good balance between those 3. Most forms of yoga that are being thaught in the West are mainly focussed on asanas. The emphasis is on the physical, often creating an imbalance within the practitioner. However, as a human and especially a horse(wo)man, it’s important to be in balance on all levels. That’s why Sati Yoga is so valuable!
So the goal of this workshop was twofold. In the yoga-part, Christophe and Ciara (both experienced professional yoga teachers), helped the participants to develop more mindfulness and awareness: Self awareness, body awareness and awareness of the breath.
In the horse part we worked with the first 2 training components of Horsefulness Training: liberty training and groundwork. In every lesson we made the link with Sati Yoga and how you can integrate the body and breath exercises to connect with horses and develop a clear communication when handling them.
For novices and advanced people
The level of participants ranged from novice to advanced, with some people having no experience with yoga nor horses, and people with a lot of experience with both yoga or horses and even, with both. This, however, was never a problem, because the emphasis of this workshop was connecting with yourself and with the horse. And that’s something that everyone can benefit from, whatever their level!
We worked with Christophe and Ciara’s horses, so the participants didn’t need to have their own horse to take part in the course.
Lessons with Ciara
Asanas and mindful movements
The goal of the asanas and mindful movements is to make your body more supple and stronger and improving your coördination and balance. Next to that they help you to develop more body awareness, control your breath, generate energy (depending on the exercise) and learn to focus. And not to forget, they can help you to develop acceptance, perseverance, patience, not judging, softness towards yourself and many other qualities. All the qualities that you develop by doing asanas, you can use when you are with horses.
Surya Namaskar – Sun Salutation
The participants also learned about Surya Namaskar, the Sun Salutation. Surya Namaskar exists of a sequence of 12 asana’s and can be considered as 1 of the most valuable yoga sequence. Because when you would do the Sun Salutation every day and nothing else, you already have a very good daily yoga practise that will develop more soupleness, strength, balance, focus and inner calmness. So you can say that the Sun Salutation is truly a “key exercise”.
Lessons with Karine
Communicating and connecting @ liberty
During groundwork we worked, amongst other things, on how to connect with a horse through touch, leading with awareness, guiding your horse in a difficult situation with softness, …
Silent walking is a powerful way to connect with nature and the horses. Awareness of the breath and the body, inner calmness, being present, mindfulness, … Everything that the students learned during the workshop, came together during silent walking. It was a wonderful experience for every body.
Lessons with Christophe
Christophe explained that the practice of Mindfulness exists of 4 foundations: Mindfulness of Body (awareness of breath and body), Mindfulness of Feeling (awareness of bodily sensations and emotions), Mindfulness of Mind (awareness of mental states) , Mindfulness of Dharma (awareness of the inter-existence of all things) .
As a beginner you start with “Mindfulness of Body” where you first observe and learn to know your breathing and then move to the awareness of your body. The other foundations follow when you meditate daily during a long period of time and when you are ready for the next step.
In the pranayama lessons the participants learned, amongst other things, how to balance the breath, how to lengthen the breath and also how to apply alternate nostril breathing. This breathing technique
– balances the and right hemispheres of the brain therefore also balancing logical thinking with emotions and intuïtion.
– calms and centers the mind
– brings you back in the present
– releases stress and relaxes the body
– purifies the subtle energy channels in our body, thus helping prana (life force) flowing smoothly through your body.
To be continued!
A big “thank you” to the participants Tina, Evelyne, Bridget, Lucy, Anastasia, Linda, Brid & Joan, who showed a lot of curiosity and openess towards this way of being and working with horses!
Teaching together with Christophe and Ciara was a great experience! Also because the 3 of us, as teachers, could participate in or listen to each other lessons. So not only the students were learning. We, as teachers, were learning a lot too!
If you also want to experience what this transforming workshop can do for you, then I’m very happy to announce that from 9 till 14 july we will be giving a second “connecting with horses” workshop on Clare Island. Click here for more info and to register.
More atmospheric images…
Interested in following a “Connecting with horses through Sati Yoga & Horsefulness Training”? You can find more details if you click this link!