One of the simplest paths to health and well being is through awareness of your breath.The way we feel is directly related to the way we breathe.
When we rehabilitate our rescue horses one of the first things we practice is the release of our breath through deep intentional exhales while asking the horse to stretch his head and neck down to the ground — finding a point of balance that quiets their mind and relaxes their body.
So it was especially fitting to start our Taking a Breath Workshop for Military Caregivers with a simple yoga class that focused on breathing and stretching. When dealing with stressful life situations, our body has an unconscious tendency to pull the diaphragm in and breathe through our upper chest. So as a way to balance this out, we started the class by doing Breath of Fire — an amazing exercise that fights anxiety, nerves, fear, pain and depression. Afterward, we stretched in sun salutation and practiced our tree pose to engage our core muscles even more.
Our lunch was one of the most meaningful parts of the day — we shared our personal journeys — finding common ground and support for the path we are all on.
- Bonding with the rescue horses through grooming and learning basic touch point releases that trigger relaxation responses from the horse (licking, chewing, yawning, etc.)
- Personal reflection – through a nature walk, journaling or meditation
- Cranial-sacral massage sessions to open the healing pathways for mind, body and spirit.
We closed out the day by sharing some wonderful homeopathic remedies and self-care items. Demonstrating how to make skin balms and scrubs from natural plants and minerals and use essential oils to enhance our well-being.
There was no question at the end of the day that everyone walked away replenished – having experienced a meaningful day of respite by nurturing ourselves, each other and the horses.
As one participant put it “The Joyful Horse Project is about living and finding the joy in life through horses, through connecting with other souls, and through connecting with God and his amazing world.”