Is your back killing you after riding your horse?
Do you feel any discomfort during your ride?
Yoga has the answers to help ease out the pain and develop more balance, flexibility, fluidity, rhythm and connection between you and your horse. Yoga poses that were designed specifically for horseback riders targets the hips, lower back and shoulders. This allows for a more fluid ride.
Horses are sensitive to emotions. They feel the horseman’s emotional state during the ride. Practicing Yoga poses along with breathing exercises ensures that a horseback rider can control his emotions, especially during times that fear may arise during a ride. This depends on his awareness of his body and thoughts, which creates synchronicity between him and his horse.
Once you become familiar with conscious breathing, it can help you find your seat easier. Conscious breathing allows your body to relax. For horseback riders, this plays a role in relaxing the sacrum, creating a deeper seat by properly sinking into the saddle. Practicing Yoga also allows horseback riders’ hips to open more, creating a better balancing surface within the sitting bones. This is very beneficial in keeping a healthy lower back. When the hips are open, your weight is equally dispersed throughout your whole body. This saves your lower back from carrying all the strain.
It opens the shoulders, freeing the arm from any restrictions when controlling the reins. Yoga is also very effective in creating a deeper and stronger bond between the equestrian and the horse.
Like practicing Yoga, riding also requires you to focus on the present movement. It demands a strong core, balance, alertness and awareness whether you and your horse are in sync. Follow these simple poses to help improve your overall performance on the track, and nail your next race!
Tree Pose/Tadasana. This pose helps improve balance and focus. It also stretches the inner thighs and helps improve leg strength.
To do the pose: Start by standing with feet together and hands on sides. Bring your hands in prayer and lift your right foot. Let it rest on your left inner thigh and extend your arms up to the sky. Stay in this position for 3-5 breaths, and repeat the same technique on the other leg.
Standing Forward Bend/Uttasana. This pose is a great stretch for the lower back. It also aids in increasing the flexibility of the hamstrings.
To do the pose: Begin in a standing position while maintaining your spine’s natural curve. Take a deep breath in and fold forward by the waist, reaching for your big toes. Do not look up to avoid straining the back of your neck.
Camel Pose/Ustrasana. This is a gentle backbend that gives the whole front of the body an amazing stretch by opening the chest and shoulders. It also increases the spine’s mobility. Practicing this pose opens the hips, creating more space for the sitting bone for a more fluid ride.
To do the pose: Start by planting your knees on the ground hip-width apart. Suck your stomach in as you lift your body, elongating the spine. Keep your hands on your waist as you send your hips forward, keeping your gaze in the sky. Then roll your shoulders back and place your thumbs on your sacrum. Inhale, and then send your hips forward and your head back while your thumbs push into your sacrum. Create more space by lifting your body and elongating your spine and reach your palms to your heels. Do not lift your head. Let it relax to avoid any strains. Hold the pose for 3-5 breaths. To release, press through your knees and bring your thumbs back to your sacrum and inhale as you lift your whole body up.
Follow these easy poses and relieve any pain in your back and improve your strength, flexibility and relationship with your horse. Practice with good intentions and be patient. You will feel the difference in no time. And most importantly, have fun while practicing both on the mat and on the track.