Iceland is, by nature, a very meditative place. With the wide open spaces, powerful natural forces like volcanoes and waterfalls, and a history of poetry, the island invites you to slow down and take in your surroundings. Each walk through the Icelandic outdoors is like an inspired yoga class.
A trip to Icelandic nature has a lot in common with yoga and meditation, and I carry those values into each and every guest experience with our horses.
I do this for two reasons:
- Because I want guests to be able to enjoy the meditative peace of the Icelandic landscape
- Because Icelandic horses are so intuitive that a yoga-like approach is key to building a bond with them
Yoga with horses is an important step in getting to know them, and connecting with them species to species. All horses look for nonverbal cues, but Icelandic horses are uniquely intuitive to your energy, and to all the things that humans say without speaking by the way they breathe and carry themselves.
The Connection Of Yoga With Horses
Yoga and horseback riding have a lot in common. Both involve using the body to get into a particular rhythm and headspace while strengthening the core, opening the hips, and maintaining balance.
Both involve thoughtful breathwork, intention, and a sense of flow. In both practices, participants ease their way toward their goals rather than forcing. (And, in turn, have a much easier time reaching their destination. If only it were easier to remember to apply that lesson to everyday life!)
Both on horseback and on the mat, you’re following energetic cues that are so quiet that they sometimes whisper. Each time, you practice calming the mind, easing the usual rush of frantic thoughts, and getting honest with your inner being about how you really feel in each moment.
Meeting Horses Through Yoga And Breathwork
With this in mind, you won’t be surprised to know that I guide every guest through breathwork and yoga practices before introducing them to the horses. From the moment they meet you, Icelandic horses are sensing your energy, and using it as a cue for how they in turn should react. When you are allowing your own energy to flow freely, your horses will be able to understand intuitively what you want and need them to do. So energy and breathing are where we start.
Before meeting the Icelandic horse, I want each guest to feel as relaxed as possible. After some grounding and centering breathwork, I encourage a yoga-like atmosphere during your first meeting with the horses. You’ll greet them with a low face and with steady, centered breathing. Next, you’ll take the horse for a little walk, still focusing on your breathing. The energy will feel a lot like the beginning stretches of a yoga class, in those moments when you’re just getting reacquainted with your mat for the day.
Much like you look to your instructor for guidance in yoga class, Icelandic horses are group animals looking for a leader to guide them. When you are with the horse, you are that leader. Just like your yoga teacher, you’re showing your horse how to feel, setting the mood, and guiding them through which movements to take. When you stop moving, the horse should stop moving too. If the horse doesn’t fully stop when you need him to, you can lean on another yoga trick by letting out restless energy with an audible exhale. A calm release of breath will indicate to your horse that you are in charge, and that it’s time to stop.
Horse Riding In Iceland Is Meditative
When you begin riding the horse, you’ll carry these same principles with you, which will both keep you calm and help the horse understand your needs. Horses represent the wilds of Iceland, and are a direct connection to the island’s history. When you offer the horses open access to your energy and body language, you’re not only connecting with them but with all of Iceland’s wilderness. In a region known for its wide open spaces, you’ll be connecting with the vast expanse of the land. Just you, your horse, and the quiet natural world around you. It’s a feeling you’ll never forget.
From your first steps onto our farm to when we sit down for a shared dinner in the evening, each step of the experience is about slow, intentional presence. This sense of peace is the one thing we can’t just manufacture like everything else in this world – we have to go out and find it on our own. The horses and I couldn’t be happier to share it with you!
Join us for an Iceland horseback riding adventure! Book before you arrive in Iceland. Click here for more information.