Horse yoga: the new trend coming to Dubai

Connect to the equine world while getting deep and meaningful at Bab Al Shams

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Looking for connection (that isn’t wi-fi)? You need to get yourself down to the stables – or more specifically, Bab Al Shams. The desert resort is putting on a one-day yoga retreat, including a “horse human connection” session, where you’ll be able to get deep and meaningful with a couple of equines.

The retreat is taking place on Saturday November 24, and focuses on the theme of connection, which will be achieved through a combination of meditation, yin yoga and an up-close-and personal experience with a four-legged beast.

It may sound a bit daunting, but there’s no need for a long face. The retreat will be led by yoga expert Amanda Cunliffe-Smith and Master Certified Equus Facilitator Kelly Eide, who will be making sure all horses (and humans) behave themselves appropriately.

“Yoga and horses may at first glance seem like they’re really different but there’s actually a great amount of overlap,” says Eide. “They both come under the umbrella of connection.

“The work that I do with horses is about how do I connect with somebody.”

The equestrian session will start with participants being introduced to a horse, during which they’ll be encouraged to analyse the animal’s response to them, and the stages that lead up to a connection being made.

Eide says, “When you meet a horse, they look at you, there’s an awareness and they make a decision on how they are going to react, whether they are going to meet you or back away. There’s communication that happens all the time without words.”

The idea is that you’ll take away an awareness of non-verbal exchange, and learn to be more aware and connected to the people around you and in your relationships.

Kelly first became interested in equine-assisted therapy when she met a horse whisperer in Arizona while working as a photographer ten years ago, and was so blown away by her experiences with the animals that she gave up her high-flying job in performance and strategy to follow the horse whisperer around the world.

But it was during a somatic movement workshop in Dubai earlier this year that she met yin yoga expert Amanda Cunliffe-Smith.

“In yoga you step back without a phone or computer and then you find out who you really are, and we have lost the art of that,” says Cunliffe-Smith. “The more connected we are with ourselves, the more we can connect in our relationships, with our families and kids, and that for me brings me happiness.”

For Cunliffe-Smith and Eide, the benefits of combining their two disciplines seemed obvious, and the location at Bab Al Shams was the perfect destination to host the session.

“It’s so serene and just far enough for you to feel like you’re out in the wilderness without being too far away from the city,” adds Cunliffe-Smith.

The resort is also located just 3km from Emirates Equestrian Centre, where the horses live. Participants will arrive between 7am and 8am before a 90-minute yoga flow session.

There will then be breakfast followed by a two hour and 45 minute horse-human connection session, followed by yin yoga and meditation, with Rais Khan accompanying the session with sitar music.

After lunch there will by a 30-minute closing circle for the group of 15 to 20 people, with the day ending at 4pm.

“Horses can teach you how to trust and how to trust yourself,” adds Eide.

“I think the people that come will leave feeling rested physically, and I also hope they leave feeling excited and empowered and curious to further the connections in their own lives.”
Dhs1,420. Sat Nov 24, 7am-4pm. Bab Al Shams Desert Resort and Spa, Al Qudra Road (04 809 6167).

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