‘My horses gave me clear signs that they enjoyed it, lowering their heads, letting their lower lips hang, eyes softly shut, relaxed and in a zen zone’
By Angela Nunez Bailey
Special to the Rappahannock News
“You do what?” This query is the most common response when I tell people what I do, which is teach yoga with horses.
I founded Solaris Stable & Yoga Studio in Flint Hill last November, and through it I offer, in addition to “Yoga with Horses,” training, horsemanship and riding lessons, Equine Facilitated Learning Programs, and a variety of yoga classes and workshops.
From a young age, I dreamed of creating a place where humans and horses could interact on a deep level and where humans could reconnect with nature. I never could have predicted landing in Rappahannock County, but I am so glad I did.
I learned to ride with my mom ponying me as she exercised hunt horses in the Blue Ridge Hunt territory. My love for the Virginia countryside was instilled from my very first ride out at age three. When I was five years old, we moved to Garrett County, Maryland to be closer to my grandmother. I spent most of my formative years there, riding through the Appalachian Mountains, my love for nature never waning.
A former member of the Blue Ridge Hunt suggested I consider attending Smith when it came time for college. I enjoyed two years on Smith’s Equestrian Team, and experienced riding in Spain during my semester abroad.
Once I graduated from Smith, I attempted to take a traditional route to success, holding various corporate jobs, but I never felt fulfilled and I missed horses like crazy. My yoga practice was the only thing keeping me sane, so I decided to pursue my 200-hour yoga teacher training and become a yoga teacher. I wanted to share the benefits of yoga with others. I have since also become a certified Advanced Buti Yoga instructor. Buti Yoga is a soulful blend of power yoga, cardio-intensive tribal dance, conditioning and deep abdominal toning.
One day I had the idea to combine my two biggest passions — yoga and horses — and see what happened. I moved gently and slowly on my most trusted equine partner’s back, and he went into a state of bliss. He enjoyed the massage on his back muscles and hindquarters, as well as the peaceful, centered energy of the practice.
Wanting to be sure I would not cause my horses harm, I consulted with their vet, chiropractor, and massage therapist, and they all assured me that the movements I was doing were beneficial to the horses. When I practiced, my horses gave me clear signs that they enjoyed it, lowering their heads, letting their lower lips hang, eyes softly shut, relaxed and in a zen zone.
I started to receive requests to teach horse yoga, and I was happy to oblige. The practice connects horse and human in a unique, deep way. The more I opened my heart to the horses, the more I knew I had to share with the world their sentience, depth, and wisdom.
From that desire, Solaris Stable & Yoga Studio was born. I settled in Rappahannock County in late July of this year at Standing Rock Farm (formerly Whitcairn) in Flint Hill. I am honored and grateful to be able to share the magic of yoga and horses with others. This is just the beginning, and big things are coming.
Solaris Stable & Yoga Studio is located at 13316 Crest Hill Road in Flint Hill. Phone 571-969-9782 or email SolarisStableAndYoga@gmail.com.