I have recently started to explore teaching SomaYoga to an equine therapist, Angie Payne, with her equine therapy horses, Romeo and Fancy, nearby. We began by chatting and getting to know each other. As we were doing so, Fancy kept coming between us, she would gently nudge me at my heart and step away, then come back and nudge me again. It made me curious…
We then began with me sharing a SomaYoga practice with Angie. It was astounding how her beautiful horses responded… As I shared the movements of arch and flatten with her to release the muscles of her trunk, her mare, Fancy, responded by mirroring these movements in her trunk. As Angie explored releasing the muscles through her shoulders, neck and jaw her gelding, Romeo, began to mirror these movements through his neck and jaw. I loved witnessing how they responded to her explorations with explorations of their own. It was such an amazing experience!
Recently, I went to visit my grandma on Vancouver Island. She is 90 and has dementia. She’s been in an assisted living seniors’ home for the past 3-4 years. She has not been able to walk since last fall. A little over a month ago she managed to get out of bed and fell shattering her hip and wrist. Within two weeks of this fall my mom called me and told me the doctor had said the prognosis was not good for my grandma so I flew out the next day to spend some time with her. I wasn’t sure she would even recognize me. She didn’t at first but once my mom told her who I was then she connected with me and even called me by my middle name, just as she and my grandpa always used to do. It was so heartwarming. We spent some really nice time together for the three days I was there and it was incredibly difficult to leave her on the last day. We were both crying and she held on to my hand so tightly. I love her so much! She and my grandpa always held such a loving space for me. The photo above is of my grandparents enjoying a dance at my wedding.
When I returned home the curiosity of why Fancy was nudging me at my heart continued to be with me. I had never experienced an equine therapy session before and was keen to meet with Angie and her horses to learn more.
During our opening time for the equine therapy session the grief of losing my grandpa 12 years ago and my grandma’s failing health came up strongly for me. The horses’ responses were profound. It was a beautiful experience. Angie led me by starting out sentences and having me finish them. Grandpa, what I regret… what I’m sorry for… what I will always remember… The male horse stood proudly as I spoke to him. My grandpa had so much integrity. I loved him so and miss him always. I’m tearing up as I write this. Then, I spoke the same words to the mare. She came to me and laid down on the ground in front of me. I was in awe of her. It was as if my grandma was right there. I began to bawl. She allowed me to kneel down beside her and talk to her, petting and scratching her along her head. She would let out little moans and deep exhalations. It was so powerful. Again, it was incredibly hard to leave her and walk away once I felt I was complete in what I needed to say to each of them. Angie shared that Fancy had never responded in this way before… It was very moving and we were both in tears.
What is so beautiful about the horses is that as vulnerable as I felt, they showed such compassion for me as they held the supportive space I needed in that time to allow my thoughts and emotions to rise to the surface and be released. Now, as I reflect back on this tremendous experience with Angie, Fancy and Romeo, I see the parallels of what is required of the human spirit to support each other with compassion through the difficult and vulnerable times in our lives. When we are in pain, whether emotional or physical, being offered compassion from others and practicing self-compassion, helps to foster ease in our lives. We create connection… Connection with others and deeply connecting with ourselves.
Holding space, practicing compassion and creating connection is what I aspire to continually establish through sharing SomaYoga with others.