I have often employed the benefits of ‘Yoga” breathing when with horses. I’m not always sure if this is to calm the horse or myself, but it inevitably has the effect of helping us both chill out. Today I was learning a slightly different form of breathing in yoga class before I decided to go out for a ride on Joker.
After an inferno of a heat wave followed by eye stinging, nauseating smoke from the too close for comfort Mosquito Fire, any horse activities have been pretty much nil. So today with a southeast wind bringing us clear skies and cooler temps we hit the trails. Yippee-ki-yay! Uh-huh…That’s exactly what Joker was thinking. Whoo-hoo, what gremlins are riding in on that delta breeze to tickle the tail hairs?
Feeling his shiftiness and unease underneath me, I found myself applying the box breath techniques we had been practicing just this morning in Yoga class at the gym. Our instructor, Jennifer, had been guiding us through our breathing with a count of 4 seconds on the deep breath in, holding this breath for a longer count of 5 seconds and then slowly releasing the breath over a count of 6 seconds. As I was doing this box breathing, I noticed right away that just as soon as I began to release my breath out, so did Joker! Each time I began a new cycle of box breathing, on the first few out breaths there he was with an audible breath of his own exhaling; sometimes even punctuated with a gentle head shake side to side.
As we rode along the trail loop I experimented with holding these counts a bit longer, for a 5 second in, 6 hold and 7 on the breath out. Everytime I began a new cycle, Joker’s sigh on the release was unmistakable; And, I could feel him softening under me. As his neck lowered his stride lengthened and his back rounded upward. Together, Joker and I had breathed our way into a relaxed momentum for a beautiful easy hack around the loop.
To all the folks affected by the Mosquito Fire and those working around the clock to stop it, our thoughts are with you!