Horseback Yoga as Therapy
Harnessing the healing power of yoga, movement therapy and horses improving quality of life for mentally and physically disabled children and adults and people with chronic illness.
Do you feel bad about yourself or your body? Do you resent your illness or disability? Or maybe the child you care for is struggling to find a suitably fun and yet accessible activity? Have you tried other healing approaches but failed to see any progress? If so, read on.
I am a yoga teacher and reiki healer who first discovered the healing power of horses as a child finding that they assisted me through an incredibly difficult childhood. I spent many hours caring for horses, riding and hanging out in their company and have felt a constant pull towards them my entire life.
As an adult, I was introduced to yoga and reiki and have found the benefits to be profoundly life changing. I now combine these three to create an experience for children and their families which takes them outside of their ‘problems’ and shows them a new way of being.
Combining meditation, relaxation, breathing exercises and movement with the movement and energy of the horse is a powerful recipe for healing but best of all, it’s fun.
What are the benefits?
Something magical happens when people come into contact with horses. We know that by simply touching a horse, the hormone oxytocin is produced. This hormone is responsible for bonding and social interaction and could be one of the many reasons autistic children respond to them so positively. Therapeutically, horses in themselves are incredibly powerful before we even get on their backs so the benefits don’t stop there.
Brain activity relies on the healthy movement of cerebral spinal fluid and a good supply of oxygen. Oxygen reaches the brain through respiration and it’s carried to it via the circulatory system and the spinal fluid. Yoga boosts the supply of oxygen, improves the circulatory system and the movement of spinal fluid as does horse riding.
In fact, Horse riding is unique in that, it moves the pelvis in such a way that it corrects the abnormal movement of the spine common in many children and adults with special needs on which healthy brain activity relies. In horseback yoga, we partner this action with breathing exercises and awareness.
If that isn’t enough to think about, consider that if your mind or body are affected by a disability or illness, you are less likely to breathe effectively. This is because breathing is reliant not only on the diaphragm but also, shape changes in the body. When we are ill or disabled in some way, we tend to move less effectively. Yoga breathing exercises and postures help to rectify this. Combining yoga and horse riding, creates a powerful boost to the brain’s activity.
Yoga teaches self-love and helps us find peace and acceptance with ourselves.
Aside from the physiological benefits, children with disabilities will often reach a place where they can begin to despise their own bodies as a parent or carer, you may be struggling with stress and guilt.
As an adult, you may struggle to accept yourself and/or your body whether it is emotional or physical, due to a disability or illness. Often, a large amount of time is spent in medical situations where the focus can be on the problem and limitations rather than what we can learn from the illness or disability.
Yoga asks us to consider what positives we can take from the journey and find gratitude for what we do have, no matter how small that may be. If we aren’t careful, we can end up in a position where we end up battling the disability or illness when ironically, the healing comes when we reach a place of peace within ourselves. Yoga teaches us how to find peace in some of the most challenging situations.
One of the most beautiful emotional benefits most people find though, is that they are able to achieve so much more than they thought possible and this in itself is a powerful boost to the self-esteem.
If it sounds as though you or someone you know could benefit from a few sessions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me. I’m just here waiting