Thursday, December 15, 2011

This is your body and it is a process and journey

Recently a dedicated student of mine, Pattie O’Brien, resident of Pagosa Springs, Colorado wrote a blog published on the Parelli Central Blog site entitled: “The Yoga/Riding Connection”. Pattie is 59 years old, which you wouldn’t know, has an arthritic knee and chronic neck pain. She also has a Baker’s Cyst behind her right knee, a malformed pelvic and multiple neck surgeries. Pattie is one of the most devoted students that I have. In the blog she states, “What I like best was that Theresa didn’t critique my positions, just helped me get into the proper posture as best as my body would let me do.”

This took me back to when I started yoga. I was searching for a way to become more flexible and balanced in my riding so I could flow with the horse rather than get in her way. I spent one and a half years doing strength and balance training and it got me far but it was not what I needed to get the additional flexibility in my body. I went to a Yoga class and that was it for me! After only one practice I knew that I had found the answer. But before I could get the result I was looking for - better flexibility with my horse - I had a long journey ahead of me. At the time, however, I did not know that. I attended the yoga classes and really enjoyed them. Nevertheless, I was very self-conscious since others had been doing yoga longer than me and some were much more flexible and balanced than I was. I didn’t know the postures, I didn’t know the sequence. When my instructor would correct me in a posture I would sometimes feel I was doing something wrong or that I wasn’t good enough for my body to get the posture. For several months I struggled. My self-talk went like this: “Downward Dog… What was that again? Where should my hands be? How should my body be positioned?” or “She just told me to inhale but she didn’t tell me to exhale. Am I supposed to exhale or hold my breath?” and “I just fell out of crow 4 times, how embarrassing.”

So on it goes! It took me many practices to feel like I knew the postures, to understand what the Yoga instructor was referring to and to allow myself to just relax. I still remember all my struggles. This is the reason why it is important for me as a yoga instructor to “guide” a student through their practice. To me, yoga helps a student to unfold, unlock the brace in the mind and then in the body. It is truly a process, a journey for the student’s mind, body and spirit. Today’s practice will not look like tomorrow’s which won’t look like next week’s, which won’t look like next month’s and sometimes you go backwards on postures and then forward again. I believe that the student’s job during yoga, their only job is to listen to what their body is telling them. They need to take care of their body and get into alignment the best they can based on where they are at in that very moment. I want the student to unfold as their body is ready. I give specific set-up instructions for each posture and demonstrate along with the students in practice so they have a visual. In my Yoga DVD’s, I have a set-up that I believe really helps the student. They get a booklet with the key postures, so the student can get a visual. Then, in the DVD, I have a module where I help a student get aligned into most postures presented in the practice. Here the student can review the postures or do them along with me and the “video student”. The last segment is the actual practice. I love the idea of the student coming to the mat as prepared as possible so they can just take a posture and see where their body is at in this moment.

Thank you Pattie for your blog> It brought tears to my eyes because I want others to receive from Yoga what I have been able to receive over several years now… and I mean it when I say “YOUR HORSE WILL LOVE YOU FOR IT”. Please go to my FB Fanpage ZennerYoga and “like” it. You can also visit my website: to get a view of the product Fluidity Connection!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Cleansing Mind and Body

It has been a little over 2 years since I have done Bikram yoga or hot yoga. Bikram Yoga was actually the first type of yoga I was introduced to and I had a love/hate relationship with it.
It took quite a bit for me to get myself to the studio, because I knew that the next 90 minutes was going to be very hard for me… Torture! I love heat, however, being new to yoga, my ability to stay present was minimal and it was really difficult for me to make it through the 90 minute class in a 100 deg studio at 40 % humidity. The love part of the experience was that it challenged me to stay present, sweat dripping from every pore and every time I walked away from the studio I felt extreme rejuvenation and completely cleansed.
I arrived in Florida last night and did my first practice outside this morning. My practice was great, with sweat dripping from every pore my body was more pliable and with every move I felt I was getting maximum benefit in both posture and detoxification... I was reminded of how healthy it is to sweat and assist with the detoxification process.
Sandra Kim Leong talks about detoxification in an article she wrote called Hot Yoga for Detoxification Benefits:
“Your skin is one of the best waste disposal systems in nature. While it is different from your waste-extraction organs like kidneys or livers, your skin is an equally effective organ for removing waste, especially toxic wastes. It does this through sweat.
Hence, hot yoga provides the perfect channel for detoxification to happen. You would be tapping the ability of your skin to convert toxins that come from various fats into simpler and water-soluble compounds that can be easily removed. At high temperatures, you will begin to sweat. Amonia and urea is eliminated as well as sugars and salts.
By boosting circulation and metabolism through deep breathing and yoga posture, hot yoga accelerates the result of any detoxification program. Additionally, you also get to learn the techniques of meditation. You learn to relax your mind, thus addressing stress toxins. In conclusion, bikram yoga or hot yoga for detoxification is a powerful means to achieving balance between mind, body and spirit.”
I feel absolutely rejuvenated and motivated to take on the day. It also reminds me that we can get into a routine of doing what we always do, which can be absolutely right, but it is also great to step out of the normal routine and allow your mind, body and spirit to experience something different… You never know what you might find and you never know what may happen for you!
Join ZennerYoga facebook group and post your progress or write me with questions at This will help me help you and others at the same time!

Be Blessed,

Monday, May 3, 2010

Staying Present...

I become more and more enlightened on how important staying present and in the moment can and should be. When I teach yoga you will hear me say throughout the practice: ”find and connect with your breath”, “free your mind of whatever you may have brought with you to the mat: schedules, conflicts, worries etc” or “when your mind wanders, notice where it goes, be aware of it, let it go and refocus your mind”.
In my practice I have heightened awareness of my thoughts because I am asking my mind to stay quiet. I am trying to find that place within my mind where no thought exists. Every time I bring my mind back to quiet (to present), I find myself within moments, noticing again where my thoughts are and yet again, bringing my mind back to present… This happens over and over and over again. This is a definite exercise of the mind and what I find is that it becomes easier and easier with every practice. Staying present is facilitated by using controlled breath which I engage almost immediately upon the start of my practice so I am able to become one with my breath, focusing on each inhalation and exhalation, noticing the catch in my breath just before I exhale, really just focusing on the flow of breath and how my body is feeling within the postures.
Why is this important? Why am I writing about this? For me, I am striving to achieve oneness between my mind, body and spirit, to live in the present moment, not living in the past and not worrying about the future. I used to think of future and past concerns to be larger in nature but they can also be smaller things, sometimes many smaller things that are weighing heavy on our mind, which in some cases can dominate our thoughts. One by one they generate worry, concern, anxiety etc. which creates undue hardship on our physical body, and disconnects us from our spirit.
So why do I write about this? I am on a quest to become more and more present for myself, I want to be present for my horse, staying with her, being a leader for her and staying every bit as present as she is in every moment of every day. I want to be present for the people in my life, I want to stay present for my health not inflicting undue stress onto my body through negative thought which translates into emotion resulting in stress, anxiety and tension which impacts the body.
When I am present “I AM”. In the moments when I am totally present: one with my body, breath, spirit, I recognize my true presence, my true being… in those moments. And those moments get longer and longer. And those moments occur more and more off the mat. So when you are on the mat practice staying focused on your breath, stay present with every inhalation and exhalation. Stay present within your postures, be aware of how your body feels in every movement or within a posture. When you notice your mind wander, take notice, acknowledge your thought, acknowledge the feeling it provoked… and just let it go. Also think about heightening your senses within your practice, how far can you hear, what can you see or smell..? Can you become alert to your surroundings, more in tune with your senses in the moment?
Let me know how you are coming along in your practice and what you are noticing in your everyday life and horsemanship. Join ZennerYoga facebook group and post your progress or write me with questions at This will help me help you and others at the same time!

Be Blessed,

Theresa Zenner

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Dedicating my practice to....

In Samastihi, feet are together, palms come together at heart center, quadriceps and core are engaged, chest is open and we are lifting through the crown of the head for a nice solid posture. Equal resistance is created between the palms, closing your eyes, really connecting with the breath and taking a few moments to set an intention for today’s practice. At this time dedicate your practice to someone who may need your energy more than you: a friend, loved one, colleague or maybe someone that is weighing heavy on your mind such as someone you are having conflict with, maybe someone you have deep feelings for but can’t seem to see eye to eye or feel you are struggling in the relationship or maybe dedicate your energy to your horse. Whoever that person/horse is or whatever that situation is take the time to set an intention at this time.
Why set an intention? This allows you to focus your energy toward someone other than yourself, giving rather than just receiving and it makes me feel great to send my energy out to specific “others”. When you are in final Savasana come back to the intention you set for your practice. Pay attention to what comes up for you, don’t judge it, notice it and let it go….
For me, it is amazing what has materialized from consistently dedicating my practice, the blessings that occur from that selfless act during the 35 – 60 minute energy focus and flow especially when I repeatedly and consistently dedicate my practice to that same person, yoga or horsemanship class or when I dedicate my practice to my horse which I do on a regular basis.
Do I really dedicate my practice to my horse(s)? ABSOLUTELY! They are energetic beings that feel energy transfer. I make it a weekly occurrence to dedicate at least one of my practices to a specific horse or a few specific horse(s).
Notice what happens when you dedicate your practice to someone else, how does it make you feel, do you feel fulfilled? Do you see anything different occurring with the recipient? Make this a regular part of your yoga practice and just notice what happens.
Let me know how you are coming along in your practice and what you are noticing in your everyday life and horsemanship. Join ZennerYoga facebook group and post your progress or write me with questions at This will help me help you and others at the same time!

Be Blessed,

Theresa Zenner

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Staying in the moment...

I have lived with fear of riding for years. It started when I took about a dozen riding lessons with a lesson horse and bought my first horse when I was 32 years old. She was a 16.3 hand 3 year old horse that had only a few rides on her. Additionally, this horse was primarily a left brain extrovert that could easily go right brained. She was strong physically, strong spirited and strong willed, playful and very dominant. I did not know what I was getting into and let’s just say within the first few rides I was terrified. It took only one incident to shake my confidence so much that I could not ride without shaking for over one and a half years. That one instance ignited fear that lasted in varying degrees over 4 – 6 years. My riding instructor that sold this horse to me, held her for me to mount, because she wouldn’t stand still, the horse bolted with me on her several times, and this horse had her own ideas of what we are doing, I had my hands full. What happened to riding on that school horse… UGH! But this learning experience was the best thing that could have ever happened to me, it caused deep personal growth over time.
I kept a diary for over a year on my day to day journey with this horse because I wanted to document my feelings and progress. I was determined to become a leader for her, but I knew I had to become a better horseman before I could help her when she got worried. I found the Parelli program and focused on taking my time to not only go through the program, but take it slow so that I could build my confidence back, one day at a time. It took me over a year to get on and ride without being absolutely terrified. I started primarily playing with another horse that was a bit older, had more experience and was a left brain introvert. She had a different set of challenges for me. She bucks when she disagrees J. So… one runs off and the other bucks.. GREAT …… So, I found myself in a couple of bucking fits which brought fear up yet again. But, what I will say is as I became stronger as a horseman I also processed how to beat the fear because as it minimized it still resided. What I found was that I was not staying in the moment. I was projecting what “could” or “might” happen. What if she bucks? What if she wants to go to fast and I can’t ride it? What if I can’t ride it period” etc… So, my thoughts and focus were holding me back, causing me not to enjoy what my horse was offering because I was too worried about what might happen. It’s like not giving yourself completely to your significant other because you’re worried he’s going to cheat on you.
Yoga is a practice of staying in the moment, staying present in mind, body and spirit, which is a challenge to us all. During your practice not only exercise your body but exercise your mind. Can you stay present within your postures? How often does your mind drift in a posture, how long does it take for your mind to drift after you have refocused your mind? Do you find as you are consistent in your practice that you are able to stay more and more present? This exercise of the mind transcends off the mat. As your yoga practice is consistent and your mind becomes more and more focused during practice, notice how you are able to stay more in the moment with your horse, in meetings at work and in conversation. One of the vehicles to staying present and in the moment is the use of breath. I use Ujjayi Pranayama, controlled deep breathing, see Fluidity Connection DVD’s, which helps you engage your breath, deep inhalations and exhalations through your nostrils with a slight constriction in the back of your throat. It is audible breath and it has an ocean like sound. Engage this breath to gain calmness and clarity of the mind. Continue to focus on your breath, bringing your mind back to present on and off the mat.
Breath has facilitated my ability to stay in the moment when I am in the saddle and alleviates my mind from drifting to the “what if’s” and allows me to stay more focused and present for my horse.
Let me know how you are coming along in your practice and what you are noticing in your everyday life and horsemanship. Join ZennerYoga facebook group and post your progress or write me with questions at This will help me help you and others at the same time!

Be Blessed,

Theresa Zenner

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Take the time it takes!

It’s about the process! Not the end Result!
We can put so much pressure on ourselves to be able to do a posture. We can judge ourselves and think during our yoga practice, “why can’t I do the full expression of side plank? Why doesn’t my eagle look like hers? Why do I have to modify in each practice? When will I be able to do crow?”
Why do we expect ourselves to immediately see results? Why do we place that expectation on ourselves? HMMMMM….
Yoga allows you a forum to come to the mat, where you are at, without judgement, without comparison. It is interesting that once we let go of an “expectation” of ourselves and allow ourselves to just “be” to just exist in THE moment on the mat how our bodies and mind slowly unfold and unlock. I think the expectations we place on ourselves when we are on the mat creates brace or tension in our body and mind and as we release to what IS and exist in the moment our brace and tension fall away and our body and mind become more pliable.
I was extremely rigid in both body and mind when I began yoga. I went to yoga training with 40 others students, many were much more flexible than me and had more body awareness. I remember immediately judging myself, “these students are younger than me, look at how open their hips are, my lord all the guys can do handstand”…. On and on it goes… It was part of my journey to realize that it does not matter where I am in comparison to someone else. It is about having the right attitude. The attitude that this is where I am at RIGHT NOW, in this moment…. PERIOD! Making no projections on where I should be, or want to be, but where I am right now and it is OK! When I began to let go of judgment and expectations of myself, and began to in the moment feel what I feel, existing in who I am right now, really focusing in my postures. It resulted in noticing my body parts, breath, and both comfort and discomfort in varying postures, it facilitated staying present for myself and caused personal, mental and physical growth.
And how about with our horse? How often do we set an unreasonable expectation or judgment on our horse? Why do we pressure our horses to do something they have not been prepared for? Looking for the end product rather than working on the foundation with our horse. So, just MAYBE our unrealistic expectation is causing a brace in our horse’s mind and body and when we focus on the process rather than getting the result right now, release to what is and exist in the moment their brace falls away, their body and mind become more pliable….. HMMM???
The quality of the result will come much better if you stay in the moment, take the time it takes, allow yourself to be with “you”, allow yourself to be there for your “horse” preparing moment by moment, having peace, love and embrace and just letting go of any judgment of yourself or others.

Let me know how you are coming along in your practice and what you are noticing in your everyday life and horsemanship. Join ZennerYoga facebook group and post your progress or write me with questions at This will help me help you and others at the same time!

Be Blessed,

Theresa Zenner

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Allowing Ourselves to Just “Be”......


Yoga facilitates clarity, stillness and quiet of the mind.
It is so interesting how we carve one hour of time out of our busy day for our yoga practice with the purpose of nourishing our body and mind and what happens? Our mind is immediately off to the races. We focus our mind in the initial posture in integration series, Childs Pose, and the next thing we know we are thinking about all the tasks we need to accomplish, the bill we forgot to pay, the conflict we are having with someone, the event we need to get ready for after practice and on it goes….

One of the hardest things you will find once you get past an understanding of postures is keeping your mind in the moment, really present within the posture. I find it interesting how we are so willing to give of ourselves; to charities, work, family, friends, and to our HORSES but when we take only one hour for ourselves we struggle with staying present with ourselves we are still thinking of all things we need to do or solve but not allowing ourselves to just “be”.

Yoga facilitates the practice of quieting your mind, if you can get better and better at staying present in your postures it helps you off the mat to stay more in the moment. How often are you present when your husband is telling you about his day, how about when you have a deadline for work and an associate needs 5 minutes of your time and HOW about when you are with your horse? How present are you with your horse? Are you asking your horse to go forward and at the same time thinking about “I’d rather him not go” or “I’m fearful if he goes” or “when we get done here I need to run to town” are you staying clear with your intention in everything you are communicating to him or are you sending him mixed messages? HMMMM…..

On the mat, I tell my students to pay attention to what comes up for them, acknowledge it and let it go. Refocus their mind back into the posture and each time that occurs acknowledge and refocus. This is not only about staying present for yourself during the practice, but also practicing so that you can become more and more present, clear, in the moment off the mat. It is an exercise of the mind!

During your practice, increase your awareness of where your mind goes, don’t judge it, be aware of it, let it go and notice over time what that does for you and your horse and in your daily interactions.

Let me know how you are coming along in your practice and what you are noticing in your everyday life and horsemanship. Join ZennerYoga facebook page and post your progress or write me with questions at This will help me help you and others at the same time!

Be Blessed,
Theresa Zenner