Find the right balance with your horse & yoga …
While we can’t speak for everyone, one of the reasons we fell in love with the equestrian life is that feeling of bliss and calm that comes over us as soon as we enter the stable; everything else just melts away. And yet, becoming one with your horse on the trail or in the ring can also mean becoming one with your chiropractor, or at the very least, your heating pad. As winter sets in, the feeling might be even greater.
In search of some holistic answers for how to gain strength and balance and stave off injuries, we found Ann Swanson, (http://www.annswansonwellness.com) a wellness coach who has an M.S. in Yoga Therapy as well as a string of high qualifications after her name. After working with a top dressage coach in her headquarter location in Denver, she has a unique understanding for the concerns of riders. Improve balance and connection with your horse.
“I work a lot with yoga for balance and arthritis/chronic pain,” she writes. “These are two big concerns for riders long-term. Riding can lead to spinal disc issues and resulting back and nerve pain. Also, the position the body is in can put pressure on the back and knees, increasing the risk of arthritis in the long run. The good news is that through mindfulness and yoga, a lot of these symptoms can be relieved and many of the potential issues can be lessened or prevented.”
Ann’s Five Tips to a Better Physical Connection with Your Horse
- Core power has to do with finding your "center." When seated, move from side to side, wiggling to feel your weight equally (this works on your mat or saddle).
- From there, find a neutral pelvis; one that gives you a subtle curve inward in the low back. Imagine a string on the top of your head and someone is pulling it. Then imagine the space between your vertebrae opening up. Since disc issues are a concern for riders, this is important.
- As you do this, keep your shoulders down. When you lift your arms to hold the reins, relax your shoulders, keeping them from riding up to your ears.
- Relax unnecessary muscles. While you are at it, notice if you are holding stress anywhere else. Relax your jaw, hips, and even your toes.
- Finally, begin to focus on your breath and find its rhythm. Your rhythm directs your horse's tempo as well as your own reactions. Becoming more mindful of your breath will help you more present which also keeps you more relaxed. As you become more natural at this, you will also begin to notice your horse's breath and its rhythm. As you do, your connection to one another will grow infinitely.
Shop some of Country & Stable's riding tights that can take you from yoga mat to saddle with total flexibility and comfort!
Note: Country & Stable does not endorse yoga for everyone. We encourage you to check with your doctor before beginning any exercise regime.