Equi Yogi: Foundation

I’ve embarked on a new endeavor. When our yoga instructor Nicole moved to Kansas City I decided to take over her position. Following in Nicole’s footsteps, I signed up for the ten month, 200 hour course at Grassroots Yoga here in Albuquerque. For years I have been doing my best downward dog in class and adding in a YogaGlo session to my work out plan. The transition into instructor should be as easy as a vinyasa flow. Although my natural flexibility and strength has carried me through many sessions, this course proved that I have mearly been splashing in the toddler pool of yoga.  

The yoga philosophy can be as intimidating as the deep end of the swimming pool with a sky scraping diving board. To even contemplate the idea of standing on that high dive and delving into the true depth of yoga, I must first learn to swim. With a head overflowing and body aching, I ended my first weekend of classes with one solid precept, everything in life must start with a foundation. In yoga that foundation is Tadasana, or Mountain Pose.

Tadasana, the act of standing… so that all other asanas can be achieved.

Tadasna, the act of standing, grounds the feet, engages the shins and thighs, stacks the pelvis, lifts the belly, broadens the collarbone, draws back the shoulder blades, lengthens the neck and aligns the head so that all other asanas can be achieved. When one element is left out the body sinks, much like swimming without kicking. No matter what plank or dancing warrior I enter into, every pose has elements of Tadasna. When I’m wobbling in a standing asana, I can refer back to Tadasana to adjust and stabilize my balance. This asnasa gives me a place to trust in order to achieve more complicated poses and the confidence to push myself through intimidating asanas, such as Half Moon.

Groundwork, the act of establishing communication between horse and rider… so all other schooling can be achieved.

As I lay in shivasana one morning, waiting for my body to absorb the practice, I started to contemplate the similarities of yoga and horse training. With any new horse I start training with groundwork, because it builds a foundation out of many different elements, much like Tadasana. Groundwork, the act of establishing communication between horse and rider, grounds the feet from rearing, engages the legs in movement, lifts the belly to elongate the back in work, and aligns the head so all other schooling can be achieved. If one element is rushed then the horse can become confused and panic like a drowning swimmer. So when my horse refuses to step into a stream, I can refer back to the elements of a well built foundation in order to adjust and stabilize the forward movement. This trust built between horse and rider will give them both the confidence to push through uncomfortable situations, such as crossing a water obstacle. 

Whether it is diving into the pools of yoga or crossing a puddle on horseback, with a solid foundation neither will seem so deep. A foundation is formed slowly, methodically, and by mastering one element at a time. Once established it will be the cornerstone of all other challenges and the basis to return to. The more I learn about the philosophies of yoga the more it coincides with my philosophies of horse training, and both can be applied to life. Live in the now, don’t be in a hurry, and kindness is the root of communication. I am excited to further my understanding of the correlation between horse and rider as I finish my instructor course. Please keep a look out for more Equi Yogini musing. 

Namaste horses

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