EMHH 52: Secrets to Moving Effortlessly at Any Age

#equinemovement #horsemind #humanmovement aging debono moves feldenkrais injury Mar 16, 2023

Let's talk about how you - and your horse - can effortlessly improve your movement and well-being. Despite aging, injuries or even limiting beliefs!

Here's what you can learn in this episode: 

1. Keeping Mobility, Flexibility, Balance and Confidence Despite Aginng or Injury (or both!) Tips to Help (00:00 - 05:58)

2. Embracing Biological Optimism: Compounding Benefits of Attention and Movement (05:58 - 12:12)

3. Embracing Biological Optimism and Improving  Despite Age and Injury (12:12 - 18:21)

4. Enhancing Your Horse's Performance and Well-being by Improving YOUR Movement & Mindset  (18:22 - 24:43)

5. Discover How You and Your Horse Can Move with Ease:  Free Classes Now Available! (24:43 - 25:34)

💥I'm offering FREE classes! Just sign up here and you'll get an invite soon:  https://www.marydebono.com/joinhorse. This is the waitlist for our online group coaching program, Move with Your Horse. There's no obligation, just free stuff. 

Easily improve your movement and position in our FREE rider masterclass.
Feldenkrais® for Riders videos: https://www.marydebono.com/rider

All information is for general educational purposes ONLY and doesn't constitute medical or veterinary advice. 


Would you like to know how to keep your mobility, your flexibility, your balance, and your confidence as you get older, or just even in spite of injuries you may have, and also to do the same for your horse? Well, I'm Mary Debono and this is the Easier movement, happier Horse podcast. And I often get a lot of questions from people about,

like, they'll tell me, oh, I had an accident and this broke and this broke, and you know, I did this to myself, or I had this strain, or whatever it is. And they struggle with this idea that they're going to keep degenerating as they get older. Especially cuz they may have heard things about, oh, you're always gonna deal with arthritis because of such and such injury you had,

or whatever it happens to be. Or they think that, oh, bad knees run in my family, or bad backs, or, or something like that. And so they have it in their head on some level. There's a belief that they're progressing into this, sometimes rapid degeneration. So I always tell people it's really, really important to get medically checked out.

So go to a physician, have your horse go to a, you know, be seen by the veterinarian. But then there's actually quite a lot that you can do, right? To help be more, just more mobile and, and again, flexible, balanced and all the goods things despite aging and injuries, et cetera. So let me give you a few little,

little tips about that. Number one, recognize that no matter your age or physical condition improvement is possible. Okay? It is possible. So just gonna hold that in your mind and then know that compassion and curiosity is your best tool. It's your, it's such a useful tool, okay? It's such a useful mindset to be curious, number one, but also compassionately curious so that you are not judging.

So let me use, we'll use a human example and a horse example. So if you're thinking about yourself for example, and you think, oh, you know, I should be able to, you know, reach my toes or I should, you know, if I'm stretching or I should be able to sit more balanced on my horse, or I should be able to have for your hips,

or whatever it is. Or there's a often a judgment there. It's like, I want this to be better. Like, but you're, you're judging where you are now. I'm going to ask you respectfully to let that go, to not blame yourself or anyone else for where you are now, because that actually is not helpful and that will hold you back.

It's kind of, it, it, if you think about it, it's like it doesn't allow all the data in, it doesn't allow you to receive information that could help you. It doesn't allow you to be in touch with your physical sensations in the same way when you come from a place of compassion or you're not judging, you're just curious, oh,

that's interesting that this leg doesn't move the way this one does. Or, my horse doesn't bend this way, you know, this direction as much as the other direction. Or my horse doesn't round his back very easily. You know, you just, you have a sense of curiosity, but not judgment, not guilt, not blame, none of that.

Okay? That's not helpful. And like I said, it just, it actually diminishes your ability to take in information, okay? Cuz we're constantly, we're, we're taking in information constantly through the day that we have to filter out. Cuz we'd never be able to handle the billions of bits of data that are coming in through our senses. But when you have like this idea of like,

kind of like tunnel vision when you're very judgey against yourself too, most of us are very judgmental against ourselves, right? That is not helpful, okay? And it, it actually impedes your progress. So let's get that one out of the way. Okay? Compassionate curiosity is your greatest tool. So be curious, you know, notice how you sit.

So for example, you're sitting at your desk, how are you sitting? Are your feet flat on the floor? Is one leg up? It doesn't mean it's right or wrong. Just notice where is your weight on your pelvis? We get into such strong habits about this that then are reflected in our riding negatively, I'm gonna say. And also, I guess that was a judgment,

wasn't it? But in other words, it, it, it, it prevents us from riding in a balanced way cuz we're always throwing our weight to one side. So we don't wanna do that. The other thing it can do is it can lead to problems with your spine, your, you know, your neck, your shoulder, your hips, all kinds of things.

So start to notice how do you sit, you know, just throughout the day, how am I sitting? How am I standing? What am I doing? Am I leaning a certain way? Do I have more weight on one leg? You know, when you go to cross the street and you step up on a curb, which leg is leading?

We tend to be habitual about that. If you're going up a flight of stairs, which leg is leading often? Again, it's very habitual. So start to pay attention, be curious. Again, you're not judging because small things, you might think, well who cares? But small things become big things. This works both in, in a way of improvement and a way that's going to be detrimental.

So if you think about like, the idea of like compounding interest and they say, you know, you put a little money in every day, you know, it grows, it grows, it grows. So it's the same idea. If you are doing something that's slightly straining yourself, you're putting more weight on one side, using more effort in certain parts of the body and underusing others,

you are creating like a culture of strain. Like your brain starts to get used to the feeling of strain and effort and stress and tension. And over time that can lead to a lot of wear and tear damage. You might develop arthritis, you know, soft tissue injuries, all kinds of things. And it also increases the sense of, like I said,

tension, right? So you, you start to restrict your movement unconsciously. So this is really important. So small things, you know, little, little differences that you feel can become more serious issues down the road if you let them. The same way small improvements can grow over time and help you really, really improve your, your movement. You know,

balance, flexibility, all that good stuff. Same is true with your horse. So small things, whether they're in the positive direction or the negative direction, become big things, okay? So be curious where you can let go of unnecessary tension, unnecessary effort, even emotional effort. Okay? So if you're thinking those thoughts that aren't helpful, can you let that go?

Right? You wanna let that go? So be compassionately curious. So use compassionate curiosity. Another thing to remember is to embrace this idea of biological optimism. A wonderful, incredible Feldenkrais teacher by the name of Ruth Ilan, who has since passed away. She talked a lot about biological optimism. And the way I view biological optimism is this idea that we know that we have wisdom,

we have wisdom, we have intelligence in every cell of our body. And this is true for us as well as our horses, dogs, cats, et cetera, right? There's that wisdom, there's that intelligence. And it wants health, it wants wellbeing. Okay? So when you embrace that, when you recognize that that's what you, your, your,

you want for yourself on the, on the cellular level if you will, you realize, okay, there's a, there's a good chance here that if I work within this framework with this idea of biological optimism, I will improve or my horse will improve. Okay? And by the way, your two of you are Dr. Are combined cuz it's a horse human system.

You've heard me talk about that in other episodes. So remember this, because you might think, well, how do I embrace biological optimism? I'll give you a little trick. Remember that attention plus movement stimulates your brain to make better choices. Basically to have, you know, to it stimulates neuroplasticity. This idea that the brain can evolve depending on what it needs to do.

We can adapt and you can create new neural connections, new neural pathways, which means your movement can be easier, you can learn faster, okay? It's, you are actually learning how to learn. Again, I'm gonna say this is also true for the horses. That when you combine attention, which we, in my programs, my move with your horse programs,

I teach you how to do this, how you help your horse get very specific attention and couple that with movements, right? That stimulates your horse's brain as well. It's brain retraining for you or your horse. It potentiates the brain stimulates new neural connections. So one way we do that, I mean, I can't go into the very specifics here. It's,

it's all part of my program, but we use learning strategies. So we use novelty, we, and it's all done very safely. So not novelty that will alarm your horse or yourself and get your nervous system worried, but novelty meaning non habitual, right? So non habitual touch, non habitual movements done in a very specific safe way really get the attention of your nervous system.

So you get that high level of attention. And that's what you need to potentiate the brain. Also, variations in, in movement, you know, some people, they, they do things that they're, for example, strengthening their, their abdominals and they do it over and over in like one particular pattern that is not functionally helpful and actually can, can cause problems.

But when you have little variations, and again, we go into this in detail in my program, but you know, you learn to soften the ribcage, get the sternum and the ribs involved in different ways, and you make little variations in how you do it, then your brain can start to make decisions. It can start to feel differences. Okay?

So this is important. You can start to feel differences. You learn by sensing differences. If you do something over and over the same way, you won't have that opportunity. And again, we apply this to the horses as well. So, you know, another, another way to embrace biological optimism is to focus on possibilities, not problems. So you might think you have a problem,

whether it's your horse or yourself, you might be focusing, and I want to fix that. Well, in the work that I teach, we don't do that. We focus on new possibilities that can arise. And what happens is that problem tends to go away, okay? Because now you have this, you know, it's a different lens that you're looking through.

So you see more, you experience more and suddenly have more options. So the body literally has more options available to move differently, to feel differently, to, you know, respond differently. So this is really, really important. And another way to embrace biological optimism is to give yourself evidence, give your brain evidence of improvement. So that means doing,

again, going back to something small like, like my, my free writer masterclass, right? If you go to mary Debono dot com slash rider, you get three free videos. It's like one a day for three days, and you will feel different after you do them. Okay? You will feel different. So that's giving your brain evidence that you can feel differently and that you can improve.

Okay? And once you start doing that, it's like you're, you're reintroducing this idea of improvement to your nervous system. Instead of being stuck in limiting habits, whether they're habits of thought and your body, you know, movement habits. You're saying, ah, I can improve. We do this with the horses. We give them through our hands-on work,

the experience of feeling differently. That's evidence for your brain that you can be different, that the horse can be different. Big game changer, okay? So know in your body and your mind that you can improve and at any age or condition, okay? So embrace that. Another one I'll tell you that's important to remember is to associate movement with pleasure and ease.

Okay? So you really want, you want ease and pleasure to be part of the equation because if they're not, your nervous system won't want this, this new movement, it won't want to accept this when you couple, you know, if you bring ease and pleasure into this idea of exploring movement, again, this applies to horses and humans. Your nervous system will say,

I like that, and it'll want to do more of it. And you'll, this is how you improve your flexibility, your balance, your, your coordination, all the good stuff, right? And it, and it, it actually stimulates your confidence too. It helps enhance your confidence. So, super good. And I always remind people that no matter what you're dealing with,

so say I'm teaching. So right now in my move with your horse program, this is my advanced students. I'm actually opening up a new cohort of students very soon in the beginning of April. But my, my current students, they're more advanced. So I'm teaching them, actually, I'm giving them this bonus series of lessons that's really fun, but really challenging for most people.

And it's really fun to see, cuz some people have, they have, you know, hip replacements, knee replacements, fusions of their spine in different ways, you know, all kinds of injuries that they've had over the years, especially being horse people. So what I tell them, and they see the, the evidence of this is that you can take any movement,

no matter how challenging it might feel, might seem at, you know, first looking at it and you could have it feel easy, okay? All you need to do is you need to break it down so small that it does feel easy, right? It's not the size of the movement that matters, it's, you know, it's the quality of your attention and the feelings of ease and pleasure.

So sometimes that means that a person has to do it in their imagination. Like that's how much, maybe they can't be in that particular position. We're doing whatever it is, they do it in their imagination and it stimulates the brain, the same part of the motor cortex that as if you're actually doing the movement starts to get activated. So you can start improving just by clearly doing it in your imagination.

So you have to kind of feel like you're there doing it and it can help that. And then you start to do a tiny bit, just naturally it happens. It's like you, you're, you're imagining it. And if you imagine it in this way that's easy and pleasurable, you start to do a little bit of it and then it grows from there.

Okay? Now what what's really interesting is just say it's something that you have always found difficult, right? And you're imagining it. Notice if you hold your breath or tense, even just imagining doing it. So you have to, you know, be attentive to that too. Can you breathe easier? Maybe even in your imagination, you're dialing back how much you're doing until the breath comes easily.

It's not, you know, it's not interrupted and you start to get, again, this sense of ease. Very, very important. So always ask yourself, this is one of my favorite questions, how can this feel easier? And when I say this, it can be anything, it could be, you know, obviously movement cuz that's what we're focusing on.

But also just say you have to get ready for a trip and it's a hassle for you to get all the things ready to pack, to get your critters cared for, et cetera. Take a breath and ask yourself, how can this feel easier? Right? And then that really helps open up your mind to, to bring in more information that suddenly maybe you'll find a solution.

Oh, what if I did this? What if I did this? What if I called Sally? What if I did whatever? And suddenly you have more options, okay? Super important. And then lastly, remember why you want to improve. Okay? So we're talk, we're going back to our original question is, you know, how do you improve when you're dealing with aging and injuries and all that stuff?

Ask yourself why you want to, why is that? Now for many of you, you're probably saying, well, I want to, so I can continue, you know, playing with my horses, riding my horses, doing all the fun stuff. And that's great, remember that. And also, why do you wanna improve your horse? Well, I think I know the answer to that one,

right? You love your horse. You, you, you, the relationship is very important. You want the best for your horse and yourself. Remember this, the most effective thing you can do to improve your horses' suppleness balance, you know, and, and confidence is to improve your own. Remember that. So improving your movement and mindset is the best way to enhance your horse's physical and emotional wellbeing.

Because the way we, the way we move, the way we breathe, the way we think are, are taken up by your horse. Like your, your horse recognizes them and they all play a role in shaping your interactions with your horse. Okay? Your horse notices this and your underlying sense of either ease or effort is also definitely felt by your horse and contributes to the type of interactions you have.

Okay? It, it influences your horse greatly. That's why this whole horse human system, I talk about that's H squared horse human is so important to remember that when you move with greater ease, right? So will your horse, right? And when your mind is un worried and you are in the moment, you can help your horse feel that ease as well.

That's why, again, I'm gonna mention my program again, move with your horse program. So I have like two arms of the program. One is, and this is what a lot of people do, is they want to improve themselves and they want to improve their horse. Okay? So they're in, they do that. I do have another option for people who only want to improve themselves and I'm fine with that,

right? I'm fine with that. They don't wanna learn the hands on work with their horses, you know, they just wanna focus on improving themselves or maybe they wanna improve themselves first, right? Instead of like at the same time simultaneously with their horse. Those I allow, like those, I encourage people to choose one of those options. I never teach the hands on work with the horses without teaching the human component.

The human movement lessons or, or exercises, feld in Christ's work that we do with the humans because you, you can't transmit that sense of ease and pleasure unless you've done the work for yourself. Okay? Your horse will feel that underlying sense of effort that so many of us have because it's so habitual. So this is really important. So again, it's your option whether you wanna go for,

you know, helping you and your horse and learning both the hands on work and the, the human work, which is movement lessons or just doing the human movement lessons, but never one where you, I don't have an option where you would just learn the horse stuff because it wouldn't work that well, okay? It would not, you would not be able to be that effective.

So, and I've been teaching this work for about 30 years. So, okay, so remember, so your your last key takeaway here is this idea of remembering your why. Why do you want to do this? Why do you want to do it? And I'm going to tell you that when you improve your ability to move, you have this sense of efficiency,

right? It, it feels so good. And it gives you that sense of, you know, potency, strength, vitality, you have more stamina, you know, all the good things as well as you just, your coordination is better. You, you, you move with more elegance and you're helping your horse. So I hope you found these helpful.

Let, let me just wrap up real quick. Okay? So how do you deal with this idea? You know, this reality that aging happens, injuries happen. How do you improve? Okay? Remember that compassionate curiosity is your greatest tool, okay? Be curious without judgment. Notice things, remember that small things become big things, so you wanna notice them.

Notice the stuff that you would prefer to change as well as the stuff that you're improving already, right? Build on that. Build on that, okay? Embrace biological optimism. So again, you know, recognize that you have incredible intelligence in yourself and so does your horse and that, and you and your horse want to feel well, you want to feel good,

you really do. Like, in other words, the intelligence wants health and, and wholeness for you both. So get the attention of the nervous system through, you know, being mindful, right? Remember that high quality of attention plus gentle movements, you know, done in these specific ways we teach. So attention plus movement, potentiates the brain, it stimulates neuroplasticity will help you improve.

Okay? Very, very important. And, and at the same time, you're focusing on new possibilities rather than problems. Okay? Remember to associate ease and pleasure with movement, okay? Not straining and struggling, right? We want to associate ease and pleasure with movement. And remember, you can break down any movement, whether for you or your horse,

to make it feel easy and pleasurable. Okay? Now the last one is remember your why. Remember why you want to improve. And I'm gonna give you this one. I'll tell you why you wanna improve because you and your horse deserve to feel great together. Okay? If you want more information about my upcoming program, we're gonna be opening soon. And again,

you've got the two options there, whether you and your horse, and it's all online, by the way. I work with people all over the world, it's fantastic. And it's a small, intimate group of people. Program is called Move With Your Horse. And all you have to do is sign up. Well you, well, best way to sign up is marry Debono dot com slash join horse.

That's all one word, all lowercase cuz I'm going to be doing free classes before we kick off the new program with no obligation. You don't have to join the program, but free classes just to introduce you to more of these ideas and to help, help you experience how you can improve yourself and your horse. Okay? So let me know if you have any questions and I just wanna thank you so much for listening and sharing the podcast.

I so appreciate it and I can't wait to talk to you again soon. Bye for now.