Updated: Jul 4, 2019
If you can’t do something on the ground, how would you do it under saddle? The concept of “body awareness” is extremely difficult and I think as riders we get frustrated with ourselves over things that yogi masters work their whole lives trying to master.
Breathe and go easy on yourself there is a way to make this all easier.
Yoga is about mind and body awareness, while we ride aren’t we doing just that? Trying to calm our mind and control our bodies? You are not alone, but it isn’t something that comes without work. So let’s make that work fun!
When you watch professional athletes it is almost like time slows down for them and they have more time to react, well the good news is you can feel that way while riding with some mental and physical training.
Benefits of yoga on your riding:
This is the number one benefit I have found with yoga and my riding. Trying to force things never works especially on a horse, you have to be in charge but without anxiety. Yoga decreases your overall anxiety and increases your confidence, that alone makes for a better rider. When you let go of the judgment of other riders you naturally find yourself improving and staying calmer in difficult situations.
Yoga Nidra and meditation are two methods that really help calm your mind and focus on the ride.
The core is responsible for everything, position, the mobility of the limbs, EVERYTHING. Can you even engage your core while sitting on a chair? If you don’t know the proper feeling how will you feel it on top of a horse? Most riders don’t realize that if they pinch with their knees their core is not engaged, horse inverts, core not engaged. We try to fix these things independently when really it is one “simple” fix. We all know the core is important but do we really know how to use it? Ask a yoga teacher how to actually engage the core.
One exercise I like, to make sure that I am actively using my core: Stand against a wall and try to make your back touch the wall by tucking your pelvis and lifting your ribs. Your back will not make it all the way to the wall but use this feeling whenever needing your core. “Back against the wall” I will repeat that to myself to keep pressure off of my lower back.
We are athletes, despite what some of the clueless people may think, and we have to treat our bodies as such. If your hip flexors won’t stretch then your hips won’t open and you will shut your horses' movement down. Ever feel as though every horse has a weaker side? Maybe you do. How can we expect our horses to move with balance if we have none!?
Those are the three main reasons that yoga benefits riders, but truthfully yoga helps in every way. Sometimes while listening to a yoga instructor something your riding trainer has been trying to explain to you will click when hearing it differently and without the distraction of a horse.