Something New in Town: Yoga on Horseback

yoga webWOOLWICH TWP. — The historic Swedesboro and Woolwich Township area is steeped in history and offers a variety of unique experiences. The recent growth of this area has brought in many new businesses and has created a diversity of shops and activities.

Opening on May 31, will be a new addition to the area’s eclectic resources, and something not available anywhere else on the East Coast. Majaka Yoga is presenting the unique opportunity:  Yoga on Horseback. Majaka is introducing this activity through their Open House and will introduce the equine partners and allow anyone interested to give it try.

The newest trends in Yoga have included beach Yoga, Yoga poses in the serenity and grandeur of a mountaintop and even Yoga on boats and paddle boards.

So what would inspire one to try Yoga, paired with an equine partner? While the benefits of Yoga can be traced back thousands of years, recent studies have indicated horses also provide benefits to the human body.

Studies conducted by the Institute of HeartMath have determined there is a bidirectional “healing” that occurs when people are next to horses. The magnetometer is an instrument that measures the heart’s energy field, and it has determined this field radiates 8 to 10 feet around the human body.

While this is significant, it is dwarfed by the electromagnetic field projected by a horse’s heart, which is five times larger than a human’s. The horse’s electromagnetic field is so strong, that it directly influences people’s heart rhythms.

How does this impact us? While many people feel a sense of wellness and peace just being in a horse’s presence, research shows there are physiological benefits to being in a horses presence that include:  lowered blood pressure and heart rate, increased levels of beta-endorphins (pain suppressors), decreased stress levels, reduced feelings of anger, hostility, tension, improved social functions and feelings of empowerment, trust, patience and self-efficacy. The combined benefits of Yoga and horses together, are powerful and healing, and must be experienced to be believed.

While Yoga on horses is offered at high end spas and retreats in other parts of the country, it has not existed in our part of the country, until now. A truly unique combination of a Yoga instructor with a love for horses, and the only equestrian vaulting program in the state of New Jersey, have combined to offer the program.

Lumi, the founder and owner of Majaka Yoga in Pitman, NJ was born in Tokyo, Japan and moved to the United States. As a top graduate in her class, she earned a degree in the health care profession.

Faced with the stress of working in a hospital based healthcare profession, Lumi dreamed of pursuing a career that reduced stress and anxiety. Beginning with Bikram Yoga training, Lumi was immediately drawn to the sense of calm that she experienced while in these classes, much like her experiences in the beautiful gardens in Tokyo.

Lumi was later introduced to Vinyasa and Power Yoga which became her inspiration to become an instructor and live her dream of bringing the peace she learned from the serene gardens of Tokyo, to her students, one class at a time. During her childhood, Lumi also had the opportunity to ride and experience horses, and was captivated by their power and healing presence.

Vaulting Visions 4-H club has participated in the sport of equestrian vaulting, gymnastics on horseback for 20 years. The club has been successful at the national and international level and has a large group of children that are engaged in this growing sport.

Their horses are used to vaulters mounting at the trot and canter gaits, doing handstands, cartwheels, rolls and various other moves, while the horse keep their steady rhythm and pace. While there are no trained Yoga horses anywhere in the country, these proven safe and well-trained horses are masters at standing while participants move and relax in Yoga poses, as it is exponentially easier than their real jobs.
“These horses are perfect for this program because they are used to movement all over their bodies. We train on them weekly and it is almost a peaceful break for them, because they love people and they are very in tuned with when people are happy around them,” says Alison Gieschen, the coach and trainer for Vaulting Visions.

“What is also fortuitous is that we have the specialized equipment, thick back pads and giant handles for the horses that are perfect for Yoga. These pieces of equipment are very expensive and it wasn’t for having a vaulting club for 20 years, we wouldn’t have all this equipment. It isn’t even made in the United States and has to be shipped in from other countries.”

Majaka Yoga will be hosting their Open House on Saturday, May 31 from 1 to 5 p.m. at Swedesboro Riding Stables located on Asbury Station Road. People are invited to come out and meet the special group of horses being used for this program, give Yoga on horseback a try, and witness the peace and serenity of the equestrian environment.

There is no age limit for this program but there is a 200 pound weight limit for the safety of the horses and instructors. During the Open House, there will be vaulting demonstrations, games and contests. Donations for the 4-H Club Vaulting Visions will be accepted.

For more information or to sign up for the Open House, visit www.majakayoga.com.

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