Source: NorthFulton.com

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

by ALDO NAHED

February 12, 2013

From left: Carolyn Mergens, Lori Watterson, Linda Seibert-Woodward, Seva-Yoga instructor Sami Jackson, Donna Beazley, Kelle Deppa and Debbie Portwood. ALDO NAHED.
Donna Beazley, left, and Kelle Deppa during a yoga instruction class. ALDO NAHED.
Seva-Yoga instructor Sami Jackson leads a yoga class alongside rescued horses at Save the Horses in Cumming.ALDO NAHED.
Debbie Portwood, of Jasper, worked alongside Jackson in her yoga exercise.ALDO NAHED.
Donna Beazley gives Eeyore a smooch after they walked and did yoga.ALDO NAHED.
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 sami@seva-yoga.com. 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."