By Becca Husselbee
This woman is not horsing around and has taken yoga to the next level by performing moves on the back of her horse.
Angela Nunes, 29, from Hume, Virginia, has combined her two passions of horses and yoga to create a whole new style she has termed ‘horse yoga’.
The yoga teacher and ‘horse listener’ is now starting her own business introducing ‘horse yoga’ to the masses as well as teaching traditional yoga and boarding and training horses.
Angela said: “My mother has been an equestrian her whole life, and as soon as I could, she had me riding bareback on trails.
“I started doing yoga in 2007 and became a qualified teacher in 2015 but combined the two after my yoga class ran a photo-competition.
“Now Snowy loves it, I started trying yoga flows on him and it was like giving him a massage — it triggers their relaxation reflex.”
Angela has been riding since she was three-years-old and bred her Appaloosa horse, Snowy, now 11, and adopted arab horse, Delilah, 12, in August last year.
The move into horse yoga came about after the studio where Angela took yoga lessons launched a photo competition.
She said: “The competition was to see who could come up with the best yoga-based photo and whichever image got the most likes on Facebook, won the person behind the picture free yoga classes.
“So I thought why not give it a go on my horse? and that’s how it all started, I won the competition too.”
This lead to Angela exploring new poses with her horse, Snowy, who initially got a friend to hold him until eventually, he was comfortable standing on his own.
She said: “Snowy has always loved our yoga sessions, even in the very beginning.
“He’s always been happy to stand still, I never had to ‘train’ him to stand, he does so of his own free will.
“As you can see in many of my pictures, he has no restraints on his face, sometimes I have just a neck rope on him, but lately I’ve stopped using that, as well.
“Snowy is content to stand, as the yoga feels good for him, and when something doesn’t feel so good, he will fidget a little bit to let me know, and then I stop doing whatever it is that is causing him discomfort.
“Sometimes he will move a bit to shift his weight and actually help me balance better.”
Angela believes that ‘horse yoga’ has plenty of benefits for both horse and rider and can help improve the horse’s relaxation.
She said: “The benefits of horse yoga are a deeper bond between horse rider and increased trust.
“There are also physical benefits to the horse, as the yoga is similar to equine massage and chiropractic work.
“The benefits for the rider are increased strength, balance, and flexibility, as well as increased breath awareness and control, which are very beneficial no matter which discipline you participate in.
“The connection and trust you experience with the horse is also very special.”
Angela is now in the process of starting up her own horse and yoga business after recently leasing a farm which she plans to open in June 2018.
She said: “My business will be boarding and training, some horse sales, Buti Yoga and Hatha Yoga classes, as well as, of course, Horse Yoga classes.
“I’m not sure how many people I’ve inspired, but I’m honored that I get to inspire anyone at all! It’s always been my goal to be a voice for the horse and to show people that horses are sentient beings who deserve to be treated with dignity, kindness, and respect.
“Horses have much to teach us if we’re willing to listen.”