Horses and yoga. Danny Chapparo has successfully combined two things she’s passionate about to create a successful niche–so successful that she was noticed by Yoga Journal and added to their esteemed list of presenters at this year’s Yoga Journal Conference in Estes Park, September 22 – 29. In fact, her Equestrian Yoga and Horseback Trail Ride on Thursday, September 26 already sold out and a second day with Chapparo has been added on Friday, September 27.
Chapparo spent much of her childhood on her grandparents’ farm in Germany. Her grandparents didn’t have horses, but Chapparo learned responsibility for animals. She loved to ride and asked for riding lessons for birthdays and Christmas. By age 12, Chapparo became a member of an equestrian vaulting group. By her early 20s, she was taking regular riding lessons in jumping and dressage.
Chapparo bought Abraham, her thoroughbred horse, when she moved to Denver in 1995. Chapparo had a riding accident about ten years ago that led her first to pilates and then to yoga to avoid surgery. When she went through yoga teacher training, Chapparo realized “what a profound impact the breath has on myself and ultimately on riding a horse. Our emotional state and energy is mirrored by the horse. . . I started to practice wonderful yoga poses on the horse, such as deep twists and lateral bends while keeping awareness of my pelvis and sitting bones and how to keep them deeply connected in the saddle while doing them. It has helped me create a much deeper and more balanced seat, by lowering my center of gravity and ultimately keeping me safer when I ride.”
Chapparo adds “When I was riding with others, I had them practice the breathing and synchronizing it with the horse’s movement. It was incredible to see how when we calm down, the horse also becomes more relaxed. I developed a deeper connection, not just physically by opening up the hips and shoulders and becoming more balanced, but also mentally and emotionally, creating a trusting partnership with the horse. Truly becoming the ‘yoga,’ union with the horse.”
Since beginning her yoga practice, Chapparo has studied many different styles including hatha, Ashtanga, Anusara, restorative and power yoga. She has also studied with 4-Star Parelli Instructors Julie Goodnight and Ty Weber, along with several other Natural Horsemanship trainers. Chapparo has combined this training to create her Castle Rock yoga studio, Ashva Yoga, appropriately named after the Sanskrit word for horse. She created the Equestrian Yoga she’ll present at the Yoga Journal conference. Chapparo still practices her Equestrian Yoga with 23 year old Abraham.
“Having good horsemanship skills requires constant practice, just as it does practicing your asanas on the mat. . .” Chapparo reminds us that our yoga practice is so much more, however, than our practice of poses on the mat. “The benefits of yoga from a mental and emotional aspect are huge. Whether it’s while dealing with horses, your dogs, your family, your friends; having that awareness of our mental state, our energy and how it affects others around us is such an incredible gift, if we are willing to accept it!”
Join Chapparo in celebrating the grand opening of her new studio at 723 N. Wilcox Street in Castle Rock tomorrow, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Meet the Ashva Yoga Local Marketplace artists and enjoy champagne and snacks. Check out the Ashva website for the schedule of alignment-based hatha yoga classes and Equestrian events. Chapparo is also available to provide Equestrian Yoga at your special events, including a trail ride, wine and snacks.