The Animal of Our Body

A few years ago,  I had the great pleasure of leading a day retreat at Wild Heart Horse Sanctuary, my friend Sonya Richins' wonderful ranch near Park City where she keeps a few wild mustangs she's rescued.

During the retreat we learned about these beautiful animals and we learned about ourselves. We began our day with some yoga and meditation and explored some of the mystical qualities of these beautiful animals. We then spent around 20 simply observing the horses and journaling about what we noticed. It was clear to see which one was the diva, which one was the protector, which one was aloof.

Perhaps the most profound experience for me was the opportunity we had to go and be present with the animals. We practiced holding our own ground and approaching these animals neither aggressively or in a creeping manner.

Sonya taught us to be in relationship with these horses rather than assert ourselves upon them. When it was my turn, I took a few steps slowly toward the lead stallion, Kokepelli. I noticed him slightly back away so I paused and also took a step back and waited and watched. After a few moments Kokepelli lifted his head toward me and looked at me. I took a few confident but calm steps toward him and he didn't move but remained calm as if he expected me. A few more steps and Kokepelli seemed eager for me to approach him. After several minutes, we were standing with our foreheads together, me scratching behind his ears. We were two parts of one bigger thing, man and horse.


There is a wonderful poem by Mary Olivercalled Wild Geese that starts:

You do not have to be good

You do not have to walk on your knee

For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

                love what it loves.


This reminds me that there is a part of us that is an animal. It reminds me that we need to learn to work and heal our bodies on our bodies' terms through invitation and not merely subject it to yoga asana. We must listen to our bodies and create a relationship with it and wait for it to tell us how to take the next step. If we listen, we will eventually stand in complete connection with this physical part of our being of ourselves being connected in body and mind and spirit, the goal of yoga.

See you in class