Guest post by Alanna Jurick. Horses and horseback riding have been a part of Alanna’s life since she was a very small child. As a long-time horseback rider, she has a thorough understanding of the physical demands of horseback riding and the need to keep your body and mind in top shape. She has recently started her journey in getting certified for yoga teacher training and is excited to integrate yoga poses and teaching into her horseback riding passion. Follow her on Instagram for yoga tips and to learn about her certification journey.
I’ve been riding since before I could walk. I’m not an active competitor and I don’t do shows anymore, but I love the connection that you get with your horse when you are riding! Now I am working towards my 200 hr. yoga teacher training (YTT), and I’m finding all these great connections with yoga and horseback riding! Throughout the years I’ve heard “shoulders back” more times than I can count during riding lessons. I always remember after a long ride my inner thighs and hips were always tight or sore, and sometimes this pain would go up into my lower back. If you find this happens to you, or you are looking for more connection in the saddle, yoga poses could help. Try these postures before your next ride, or after, as a recovery practice. Remember that yoga is a practice, there are many levels. Be kind to your body, and don’t push too hard during any of these yoga poses or stretches. Be proud of your accomplishments and have the courage to continue!
Sit on your mat with your legs crossed in front of you. Inhale and exhale a few times. Get comfortable with your body on the floor and get relaxed. This will help your muscles prepare for the upcoming stretch and get your mind working with your body, instead of fighting it.
Start your practice with a few seated cat-cow yoga poses to increase spine flexibility. Place your hands on your knees, arching your back, and bring your belly button to your spine. Exhale. As you inhale, push your chest forward and pull your knees closer to your body to deepen the stretch. Feel the even connection with seat bones to floor. Try for 3-5 cycles, but stop at any time if you feel uncomfortable.
As a variation for the seated cat-cow yoga pose, you can cross your hands so that the left-hand goes to the right knee and your right hand is on the left knee and continue flowing with cat-cow motions.
From here unfold your legs and make your way to the child’s pose, knees as wide as comfortable toes in, heals out, with arms stretched overhead, elbows by your ears, and breath 3-4 deep breaths. Don’t force your hips down if they are tight. Let gravity work with you and try to relax down rather than pushing down.
Lift your arms and bring them to the front right corner of your mat, hands resting on top of one another or side by side. Trying to keep equal pressure on your hips on the mat. After a few breaths move your arms to the left side and balance out your body. For an added stretch you can reach your opposite arm up towards the sky and turn your head to look at your fingers. Reaching to the left? Raise your right arm to the sky. Reaching to the right raise your left arm to the sky.
Now your spine and shoulders are warm. You can rotate around onto your back and work on yoga poses for hip tension. Lay flat on the mat. Keeping your hips loose not only aids in your potential riding abilities but will also aid in body recovery. If you’re feeling low back pain, leg or hip tightness these stretches should help to alleviate some of the discomfort. When you get into a saddle and your hips are tight the ability to move with the horse becomes more difficult. These stretches will help open up your hips and loosen the tension in your low back, hips, and legs.
Laying flat on your back, bring your right knee up to your chest. Hold your leg by the back of your thigh and gently pull your leg down compressing your body, leaving room for your knee near your shoulder. Do this for 3-5 breaths. Now repeat on the other side and then with both legs together.
Lying on your back, bend your right leg, place your foot on top of your left knee. Then, lift both legs towards you. Lace your arms through the hole in your legs and grab the back of your thigh to gently pull towards your body. Do this for 3-5 breaths. As a variation, you can gently swing your hips from side to side in a windshield wiper motion. Make sure to complete this stretch on both sides. You can also straighten your right leg to get an added stretch on the back of your leg.
A happy baby is not only a hip opening but a hip stretching posture. Lying on your back pull both knees into your chest. With your arms on the outside of your legs, grab your feet. Gently bend your knees to a 90-degree angle and position your knees down into your armpits. Then, rock yourself from side to side. This is a gentle posture if you feel any pain or discomfort at any time, just relax the pressure, and move to a more comfortable posture.
Have fun with these postures! You already made a huge step by making it onto your mat today. This is your practice so make it your own. This guided instruction is merely a starting point for you. Remember to never push your physical body to the point of pain or discomfort.
I’ve been around horses my entire life, but my Friesian journey started just over 20 years ago. Our horses have always been a part of our family. They have traveled with us as we relocated from Vermont to New York to Iowa and finally, to Arizona. I can’t wait to share our story with you!
Apr 5, 2021
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