The first and most important thing we did right after being born was to breathe. If you watch infants breathe, you will notice that their stomachs rise and fall with each breath.
Somehow we soon forget how to breathe correctly, deeply inhaling from the diaphragm, and we begin to breathe shallow from the chest. In fact, many of us have caught ourselves actually holding our breath when we are exercising, or nervous, or tense–the very times we need the best supply of oxygen.
We need to practice centering ourselves, being at the same time mindful of our breathing. This is the most basic beginning of the practice of meditation, which has too many known benefits to list right now.
One of the countless things we learn from our equine companions is who we are. We are reflected back by them, and we cannot fool them. They are perceptive beyond belief.
When you approach a horse, the horse can immediately feel your emotional state and may feed off of it. If you want a relaxed, responsive, horse to ride, you must present yourself in this way to your horse.
It would be worthwhile to spend just a few minutes after you arrive at the barn to sit and spend a few moments doing the following centering/breathing technique:
Sit up with your spine straight and your shoulders back, not hunched over. Let your neck relax into a very slight bow, and let your eyes close softly.
Do not try to force them shut, as this will create tension.
With your palms facing upward make a circle with your thumb and your index
Note: In the next clinic, participants will learn variations that have been taught to Shaolin Kung Fu monks for thousands of years.
Inhale deeply through the nose to a slow count of 4 from the stomach,
causing it to fill like a balloon and hold for a second or two, and then
exhale through the mouth slowly to the count of 7 or 8, using your
abdominal muscles to push every bit of air out.
Repeat for a few minutes until you feel a state of calm.