Sunday, January 29, 2012

Yoga for Equestrians

Today was the second class in our Yoga for Equestrians series. The instructor had tailored this class specifically for riders. In the first class I learned the difference between the way I normally breathe and yoga breathing. I enjoyed the analogy that I could live by eating Snickers for each meal, but I wouldn’t be feeding my body the same quality nutrition as if I took the time to cook a vegetable stir fry. I also learned the importance of being aware of my foundation in movements and how much easier a movement could be when I moved my belly into the space first. Today’s class built on what we learned last time. Sue the instructor was at our last horse show and Peggy’s clinic which gave her the chance to spend more time with us with the horses. She has also been researching yoga and how it pertains to our time in the saddle. She talked about how sensitive our horses are, how they can feel a fly land on their skin. She went on to explain that humans when they are really tuned in also have the same level of sensitivity. Yoga not only helps us with the physical part of riding, but it also allows us to tune back in to the energy exchange we have with our equine partners.

Today we focused on using breath to initiate movements. When I was able to use the exhale or inhale to lift a leg or lengthen my back I was amazed by how much easier it was. The strength seemed to come from my core and not from the limb I was using. I’ve always been told to breathe when I ride and to use my breath to control my rhythm which will in turn control the horse’s rhythm. That sounds good, but I’ve really only been able to utilize it at the walk. During today’s class Sue talked about how difficult it is to remember to breathe correctly when things get going fast in the saddle. She sped up a series of movements and coached us on the inhales and exhales all the way through. It occurred to me that I could start using my breath to initiate a cue in the saddle and how much clearer this will make my cues to my horse. Now I can’t wait to ride tomorrow to see if I can capture the same awareness under saddle that I found today in class. We are even talking about doing a yoga class on the horses in the coming months. I’ll be sure to keep you updated.

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