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Yoga lessons combined with horse rehab

Seva-Yoga teams up with Save the Horses incorporating horse therapy, yoga exercise

From left: Carolyn Mergens, Lori Watterson, Linda Seibert-Woodward, Seva-Yoga instructor Sami Jackson, Donna Beazley, Kelle Deppa and Debbie Portwood. ALDO NAHED. (click for larger version)

Donna Beazley, left, and Kelle Deppa during a yoga instruction class. ALDO NAHED. (click for larger version)

Seva-Yoga instructor Sami Jackson leads a yoga class alongside rescued horses at Save the Horses in Cumming. ALDO NAHED. (click for larger version)

Debbie Portwood, of Jasper, worked alongside Jackson in her yoga exercise. ALDO NAHED. (click for larger version)

Donna Beazley gives Eeyore a smooch after they walked and did yoga. ALDO NAHED. (click for larger version)
February 12, 2013
FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. When approaching a horse, be sure to leave negative energy at the gate.

"You can't lie to horses," said Sami Jackson, owner of Seva-Yoga. "If you are bringing negative energy to them, they are going to pick up on it."

Jackson held her first yoga class alongside rescue horses on Wednesday, Feb. 6. The horses are being rehabbed and cared for at Save the Horses. Each has a story of neglect, abuse and near death, but are now cared for at a beautiful nonprofit farm and haven in northwest Forsyth County near the border of Cherokee County, 1786 Newt Green Road in Cumming.

The partnership blossomed after Jackson and Save the Horses founder Cheryl Flannigan were taking yoga together and connected the similarities of caring for the horses with breathing exercises needed in yoga.

"The two calming elements together was so natural, a seamless connection," Jackson said.

So the yoga classes serve two purposes.

"[It] helps the person, and it helps the horse," Jackson said, "and it's all good."

Jackson, who runs a home-based studio, 3056 Cypress Cove in Ball Ground in the Laurel Lakes subdivision, said the relationship between the yoga class and rescued horses has a flow.

"You want to center yourself and be of calm energy before you are working with horses," Jackson said. "You don't know what they have been through. Horse therapy is people therapy."

Many of the class participants had volunteered at the Save the Horses organization, including Linda Seibert-Woodward, of Roswell.

"The interaction is very fulfilling," Seibert-Woodward said. "This is so cool. I love the combination."

The horses have all been socialized and are safe to work alongside, Jackson said.

At the Wednesday class, horses Jackson, Sparky, QT, Patch, Smudge and Eeyore (like in Winnie the Pooh) were brushed by the six yoga class participants, had sweet things whispered in their ears and went for a calm stroll afterward.

The ladies then left the stable and found a nice grassy area to set up their yoga mat and continue their two-hour exercise class.

Natalie Richardson, who has worked at Save the Horses for 12 years, said the farm offers training classes and everything else. But this is a first.

"Yoga? Never thought about it," Richardson said, "We'll see how it goes."

The ladies-only class will be held every Wednesday from 10 a.m. to noon. Visit www.seva-yoga for more details or email If men show interest, a Saturday incorporated class will be added.

"Right now, we want to let the ladies get comfortable," Jackson said. "To 'Save the Horses,' we'll do whatever it takes."

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Tags: Community & Outreach

  1. report print email
    Something similar near me?
    February 13, 2013 | 03:21 PM

    I am in middle Georgia in Crawford county. I am about 20 minutes west of Macon, very close to Roberta.
    Is there anything like this in my area that you are aware of? I have wanted to join a yoga class (for beginners) and having the class with rescue horses, or ANY horses would be something I would LOVE! I can see how it would be especially calming!

    Claire Dunn
  2. report print email
    Horses in Therapy
    February 13, 2013 | 09:56 PM

    There is an organization I believe in Arizona that uses rescue horses in psychotherapy; their sensitivity to the mood of the patient, however well concealed,has proven to be a huge asset in therapy.

    Julia Bryan
    Trenton NE
  3. report print email
    You Yoga & A Horse
    February 15, 2013 | 10:01 PM

    Claire in Knoxville,

    I am not aware of anywhere else in the SE area incorporating yoga classes with horses. I wish you were closer, I know you would love it!
    Sami Jackson

    Sami Jackson
    Ball Ground
  4. report print email
    February 23, 2013 | 11:49 PM

    Sami, I am so happy you have found your place in life. Please let me know how you are doing. It looks great and am proud of your new project. Keep up the good work and stay happy. You look great. Namaste....

    Ronda Chedotte
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