After our post and exercise about allowing yourself to breathe through releasing the ribcage somatically the other day, I’d like to add another layer.
Taking a breath is both physically and emotionally and mentally restorative. We give ourselves a break for a moment. We relax a little deeper. Each time we breathe deeply, we change the stress (or threat) response to one of a relaxation or perhaps a challenge response. We prepare ourselves to cope and to enjoy.
Taking a breath can also give us a moment. It can give us a moment to reflect, or to shift our perspective, or to shift something else. It can give us a moment to smile, or to think before we speak. It can give us a moment to soften.
With our horses, taking a breath encourages not just ourselves, but our horses too, to relax, to soften. Whether we’re in a place of challenge or in a place of relaxation, these systemic responses in our bodies initiate neural mechanisms that call for connection. When we’re in positive stress, eu-stress, or a challenge response, we are relaxed and confident and equally ready for action, more likely to collaborate, to seek help and support, and to ask questions. Even in moments where we are in positive stress that is not currently relaxed and confident, we are more open to input and teamwork. When we’re in a state of relaxation, we are more likely to join with others, to have communion, to share and reflect. Being mammals and herd animals whose survival and wellness depends on others, I can’t imagine horses being any different.
Each time we take a breath, we reinforce these states that allow us to connect more deeply with our horses. Each time we take a breath, we soften our bodies a little more, inviting our horses to join in our space and dance with us. Each time we take a breath, we can increase our level of awareness that allows us to have soft and giving hands with the reins and be more aware of and connected to our bodies. Each time we take a breath, our awareness can help us join more with our horses in movement so that we can also support them to move better.
Don’t just take a breath for your ribcage, or for your balance–take a breath for you, at your core. Take a breath for your horse. Take a breath for each other.