The physical practice of yoga makes me strong and bendy. I feel close to the wind and sky when I practice outside in my yard. The fading scent of Winter Daphne is a strong motivator for inhaling.
At the barn, I hold King Dancer and hold Albert like he is the wall. With no fear of falling out of the pose, because my horse has my back, I breathe deep and look around. There on a high, dead limb climbs the red-headed woodpecker – my favorite.
See, the immediate and sensory rewards of yoga postures keep me practicing. It’s the deeper practice of yoga – the yoga of still mind and easy breath – that challenges me.
I have a busy mind. I forget things. I forget to uncrinkle my brow. I forget where I left my shoes. I forget to breathe. I rush, I skim, and I move on to the next task sometimes unaware of the task I’m in right now.
But is life really to be made of up tasks?
Saturday morning, busy mind went with me to the barn. The sky was blue, the sun was out, the woodpeckers were pecking, and my mind was racing. I had exactly one hour and fifteen minutes to spend out there. I needed to get home, shower, and dash back out for a meeting.
I showed up late for my riding lesson with Levi, a black Appendix with one sock. I rushed through grooming him. I bonked my head against his when I lifted his foot. I brushed most of the crud off of him, but our turnout mightn’t have won any awards. Busy mind had me moving fast, yet falling behind.
I got Levi tacked up with just ten minutes left to ride before my trainer’s next student. We agreed to skip my lesson. I would ride Levi in the covered ring alone.
Levi’s a good guy – a calm horse, an accepting horse. He doesn’t hold a grudge, and he knows his job. He’s twenty, and he still possesses the athleticism of the eventer he once was. Levi did everything I asked him to do, just like he always does. He went where I wanted him to go. He turned in pretty circles. He halted, and he backed, and he responded to every aid…except the gas pedal. He did everything but go fast enough, and busy mind wanted the fast Levi to show up on Saturday.
Levi plodded along. Only one of us was working in this trot, and it wasn’t Levi. I posted faster. I loosened my hands and lightened my seat. I checked my contact; I collected the reins.
Hurry up, I thought. I’ve got places to be. Go ahead; get to it. I gave him more leg.
Slow down, he seemed to tell me. What’s hurry up? You’re here right now, aren’t you?
Go! Horse! Go! I tried to say in every way I knew how, without clucking. No clucking at Levi allowed.
Slow down, just slow down.
Frustrated, I gave him a loose rein while we walked, and I tried to figure out a new plan. I took in my first good breath since waking, and then I took another and one more because I like the smell of horses. I patted Levi on the shoulder, collected my busy mind, and we moved into a nice working trot.
Levi knows his job; he did everything I asked. Levi seems to know something about yoga, too.