Happy Halloween

When the veil between the worlds thins, and the last leaves hang on the trees, we all become equal in our sins, and the darkness alters what one sees

Samhain’s a time for inward gazing, reflecting on what we’ve lost, and though some memories may be hair-raising, we must face the past at all costs

For what we don’t resolve today, will come back to haunt our soul, so through the darkness we find our way, piece by piece making ourselves whole

On this night there’s no need to fear, no need to cause a fright, think instead of those you hold dear, embracing darkness to reveal the light

Happy Halloween from me and Snowy! 

Thank You

As I make the final preparations to leave for my next adventure, I am filled with gratitude as deep as the sea. I am so thankful for the support and generosity of friends, family, and strangers.

I am deeply touched to have such amazing people in my life. This is the last week to donate to and/or share my GoFundMe campaign. Next week I leave for Barking Horse Farm in Costa Rica with much growth and learning ahead. Thank you for your well wishes, sweet messages, and support.

I feel a deep knowing that this next step in my journey will lead to amazing things—healing, new connections, open doors—things I can’t yet see, but that will enable me to do work I’m passionate about. Using yoga and horses to facilitate healing and growth is what drives me, what gives me the courage to follow my heart instead of the safe, predictable path. I hope you’ll join me and follow along as we change the world, opening hearts and minds along the way.

Why I Practice Yoga on Horseback

fallen angel

“Love is the bridge between you and everything.” ~Rumi

“Do what is healing to your spirit, and without effort you will bring the world healing in return.” ~Alan Cohen

Pain is part of life. Pain enables us to heal and grow. My journey of healing began with horses and continues with my yoga practice, both on the mat and with Snowy. I began practicing yoga on horseback out of curiosity. My passion for yoga and horses fueled a quiet, but nagging thought in my mind—what would happen if I combined the two?

Good horsemen and women learn a lesson at some point in their equestrian careers: horses are much more than recreational vehicles—they are sentient beings who deserve to be treated with kindness, respect, and dignity. This lesson punched me in the gut when I was eight years old. The equestrian center my mom managed at the time housed an athletic little Appaloosa pony named Trixie. She and I would explore trails for hours. She was every little girl’s dream come true—pretty, reliable, and fast. One day Trixie and I returned to the barn and my mom noticed with horror that Trixie was huffing and puffing and lathered in sweat. My mom pulled me aside and explained to me in a stern voice that I couldn’t just go out and run Trixie as much as I wanted to. She said to me, “Horses aren’t machines. They have feelings. You have to be considerate of them. You should never cause them suffering.” My heart ached for the way I had treated Trixie. Until that day, I didn’t realize that horses had a limit, that they shouldn’t be run all the way back to the barn even if they seemed willing. I felt horrible that I had caused a sentient being suffering. As I walked Trixie out that day, allowing her to cool down, I vowed to never cause such suffering again.

“Under no circumstance should your hand disturb the horse’s mouth. You must learn to stay calm in all situations and control your emotions. There is no room for anger.” ~Xenophon

That day proved to be a turning point in my horsemanship. From then on, I dedicated myself to learning all I could about horses and how to have harmonious, mutually respectful relationships with them. I participated in Dressage, Centered Riding, and Natural Horsemanship clinics. I read all the literature I could get my hands on. And, most importantly, I learned to listen to the horse. My horsemanship and training methods are based on a deep love for and ever-increasing knowledge of the horse as a sentient being. Do I still make mistakes? Of course, but I learn from them. I do not force my will upon any horse. I do not cause any horse pain or suffering. During my yoga practices with Snowy, I pay close attention to him to see if anything I’m doing is causing him even a hint of discomfort, and if so, I immediately stop doing that pose.

“Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darkness of other people.” ~Carl Jung

When I embarked on my yoga journey, I couldn’t have fathomed where it would eventually lead. I first tried Hatha yoga at Smith College during my first year there. I was bored and could not for the life of me understand the point of savasana. During my senior year, a friend dragged me to a Baptiste Yoga Studio in town, Shiva Shakti Power Vinyasa Yoga. I walked out of that first class feeling like I was floating on air. I had officially experienced my first yoga high. Classes with Brandon and Naima transcended a physical workout and showed me how to use yoga to look within and grow spiritually. I attended classes there daily until I moved away after graduating from Smith.

I continued to practice vinyasa yoga at Awakening Yoga Studio near Savannah, GA, where I lived for two years after graduating from college. Classes with Lisa, the owner, enabled me to continue to grow my practice. I achieved headstand under her knowledgeable instruction. When I moved to Virginia in 2013, I discovered Yoga Time Studio and went there to sweat away all my stresses and uncertainties. Mindy, the owner and fabulous teacher, had a way of helping me focus on the present moment intensely while having a great time doing so. She told me about a teacher training that was being held at her studio, and that’s when I met Denise Moore. Denise created and led the first Open Dimension Yoga Teacher Training, which I graduated from in May of this year. I have never met anyone as knowledgeable and passionate about yoga as Denise. Through her training, I gained thorough knowledge of how to teach Hatha yoga to beginners and advanced beginners, and also learned about anatomy, pranayama, meditation, the yoga sutras, and more. You can learn more about Denise and her yoga classes here.

I came full circle, beginning with Hatha and ending with Hatha, although my yoga journey has really only just begun. I’ve been teaching Hatha yoga classes at Native Barre and Barre Buddhi and hope to return to teaching when I get back from Costa Rica. What I love about Hatha yoga is that it builds a strong foundation that yogis can practice on for the rest of their lives. If and when a yogi decides to try other types of yoga, Hatha teaches him/her how to stay safe and prevent injury through being mindful of proper alignment and breathing. The more I practice and teach Hatha yoga, the more I love it.

“Truth is a matter of perception. People only see what they’re prepared to confront.” ~Unknown

One sure thing I’ve learned about horses and yoga is that there is always more to learn, there is always room to grow. Admitting I don’t know it all enables me to keep learning, and I will keep learning, but I will never know all there is to know, and that’s okay. I will learn all I can and pass on all the knowledge I can, and that will be enough.

“The willingness to face life’s challenges before you have the skills in place—without shrinking from the fear and pain involved—is courage personified.” ~The Power of the Herd by Linda Kohanov

I’m making up this whole horse yoga thing as I go, guided by my heart and Snowy’s responses. I practice yoga on horseback for no other reason than I love it. Practicing with Snowy enables me to deepen my yoga and horsemanship skills. It has also cultivated even more trust between me and Snowy. There are no tricks in my photos. No one’s standing just outside the frame in case Snowy decides to move. Sometimes Snowy does fidget, and that’s when I pay extra close attention to see if something I’m doing is uncomfortable for him. Most of the time, though, Snowy stands quietly, breathing deeply, steadily, and slowly, enjoying the yoga high as much as I do. The deep peace I experience during savasana with Snowy is extraordinary.

“Don’t start chasing applause and acclaim. That way lies madness.” Ron Swanson

“Don’t start chasing applause and acclaim. That way lies madness.” ~Ron Swanson

Some critics have said I’m doing this for attention. Others have said it’s cruel to the horse. Allow me to address both of those concerns. I am not doing yoga on horseback for attention. I share my journey on social media in hopes that it can inspire others, and I share it to make others aware that horses are beings with emotions and depth, and that they deserve to be treated with kindness, respect, and dignity. And to those who think practicing yoga on horseback is cruel, I’ll tell you what’s cruel. Competing a horse in a sport it doesn’t enjoy because it feeds your ego is cruel. Confining a horse to a stall with hardly any time to just go out in the field and be a horse is cruel. Using any bit with a harsh hand is cruel. Using ill-fitting tack is cruel. Using spurs, whips, and harsher bits because you lack the skills necessary to have a mutually respectful relationship with your horse is cruel. Blaming the horse for your mistakes is cruel. Viewing the horse as anything other than a sentient being is cruel.

Yoga on horseback can be cruel. If I ignored Snowy during our sessions and tried to force him to stand still when he’s clearly trying to tell me he’s uncomfortable, that would be cruel. Any equestrian sport has the potential for cruelty. What matters is whether or not the horseman or woman understands the horse as a sentient being and respects its desires and emotions. I do. I always put the horse first. If you don’t believe me, I invite you to come watch, or even participate in, a yoga practice with me and Snowy.

“Success means we go to sleep at night knowing that our talents and abilities were used in a way that served others.” ~Marianne Williamson

“Success means we go to sleep at night knowing that our talents and abilities were used in a way that served others.” ~Marianne Williamson

I know that no matter what I say or do, there will be critics, but I’m not here to make everyone happy, and for every critic there are countless others who are inspired and supportive. I’m here to follow my heart and stay true to myself. I dare you to do the same.

“Worry is a misuse of imagination.” ~Dan Zadra


Burning Man: A Rebirth

BM dancer pose

Photo by Josh Winslow

I dreamt about Burning Man last night. I was relaxing at a camp, surrounded by people I had just met, but whom I felt I had known for lifetimes. My favorite thing about Burning Man is the deep connections it fosters. People have been asking me to describe my experience, and all I can say is that it was like living an entire lifetime in one week.


One of the many dust storms that rolled through Black Rock City.

Especially since this was my first time at Burning Man, I feel like I entered as a child—innocent, ignorant, curious, open—and left as a new person—experienced, a little wiser, still curious, and wanting more. Burning Man certainly does not make you more adult-like. If anything, you become more childlike. The Playa encourages playfulness, curiosity, open-mindedness, spontaneity and joy.


Of course I found the only horse at Burning Man.

The artwork was moving, thought-provoking, and sometimes interactive. You can’t go to Burning Man and just observe. To get the most out of it, you must participate and engage. The art cars were creative, funny, beautiful, and musical. The dust was not as bad as I thought it would be, even though it seems this was one of the dustiest years in quite some time. The theme camps were diverse. There’s something for everyone. I especially enjoyed an aerial camp that happened to be right across from Distrikt, so after taking flight on the rings, I shook my booty over to the music and got lost in the many sick beats.


There was a dust storm during the Black Rock City Hash House Harriers Red Dress Run. We still managed to find trail. On-on!

I tried acroyoga (loved it, of course), drank a margarita at the end of the world, stopped by a bad advice booth, stargazed, watched the sunrise, went to the movie theater, rested on mushroom benches, hopped and danced on colorful LED lily pads, felt awe during the Man burn, released grief at the Temple, became entranced in the primal energy at the Thunderdome, then found myself utterly spellbound by the Serpent Mother.

Center Camp always had something fun going on, from live music, to acroyoga, to spoken word poetry, and more.

Center Camp always had something fun going on, from live music, to acroyoga, to spoken word poetry, and more.

What I didn’t do was take many photos or videos. I wanted to be wholly present in every moment, so I found myself taking out my camera a lot less than I thought I would, and I’m okay with that. Immediacy is palpable on the Playa. It’s now or never. You can’t do it all at Burning Man—there’s artwork, events, camps and more that I missed—but all you can do is allow yourself to be drawn to whatever speaks to your soul while you’re on the Playa. Going with the flow is so important. I’m grateful for everything I experienced at Burning Man and I absolutely plan to return.

Not my photo, but I am in it. I went to the Reddit meetup and had a blast.

Not my photo, but I am in it. I went to the Reddit meetup and had a blast.

As you enter, the greeters say, “Welcome home!” I think one reason Burning Man feels like home to so many people is because radical self-expression is encouraged, so you can be the most authentic, weird, quirky version of yourself and, as long as you’re not harming anyone, you’ll be accepted, because radical inclusion is definitely a thing in Black Rock City. If you’re interested in reading more about what makes Burning Man such a loving, open place, I recommend starting here.

Sounds like fun.

Sounds like fun.

Burning Man isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Extreme weather happened. Drama happened. Misunderstandings and miscommunications happened. Sadness, disappointment, and anger happened.


But so did love, healing, joy, and acceptance. Burning Man tested my limits on many levels, and I left a stronger person because of it. I left more open, accepting, curious, and loving. The difficult task is holding onto all the goodness created and shared at Burning Man. How can you cultivate that same love in the default world? I’ve learned it comes from within. Love and accept yourself, and that love and acceptance will naturally extend to others. Burning Man is so much more than a music, art, or yoga festival. It truly is another world where outward exploration leads to inward discoveries. Oh, and one last thing—burners definitely give the best hugs. 


When I got home, I just wanted to curl up in my pink furry jacket and sleep until Burning Man 2016. Unfortunately, that's not an option.

When I got home, I just wanted to curl up in my pink furry jacket and sleep until Burning Man 2016. Unfortunately, that’s not an option.

Costa Rica, Here I Come

Today is my birthday, and the universe has given me an amazing gift! I’ve been accepted to the volunteer program at Barking Horse Farm in Costa Rica. I discovered the farm on Instagram this summer and instantly fell in love with the place. Their focus is Natural Horsemanship. I felt drawn to this farm right away and began looking into ways to go there. I received confirmation that I had been accepted to the volunteer program shortly after I returned from Bolivia. There are so many things I’ll miss, including my horse, Snowy, who will be staying here in Virginia, but I know this opportunity will enable me to grow in ways I can’t even predict.


Treks on the beach? Yes, please! (photo from Barking Horse Farm)

My dream is to one day have a facility of my own where people come to experience healing and growth through yoga and horses. I know volunteering at Barking Horse Farm is a step in the right direction. I feel like I’m finally making a career choice that speaks to my heart. I’ll be at the farm from November through the end of January. If you’d like to help support me in this endeavor, feel free to donate to my GoFundMe campaign. And even if you can’t donate, sharing the campaign to your social networks would also be a big help.


I am so excited to take this next step of my journey and to share it with you through this blog and social media. We all have the power to make this world a better place. We all have unique gifts to share. I encourage you to follow your heart, to listen to it daily. An authentic path is not always an easy one, but it’s so worth it.