Yoga 4 Horse Riders
“True riding mastery can only be reached by the person who, for years and years, has kept his mind open to new ideas, and even he should always be prepared to admit that there is still much to be learned”
Have you ever contemplated why, as equestrian lovers, we spend hours learning how to warm up, bend, flex, extend, engage, strengthen, shorten, balance, calm, energize and cool down the horses we ride, often never considering the same for our own bodies and mind? The horse senses and mirrors our every breath and movement, including the subtle changes in our body’s that result from thoughts. No rider exists in isolation from the horse, even with a saddle in between, so maybe it’s time therefore, that we spent a little more focus on the rider?
The unique approach of Yoga 4 Horse Riders merges two very ancient disciplines, horsemanship and yoga, and focuses on teaching you, as the rider, awareness, flexibility, balance and correct breathing in rhythm with movement, to generate a relaxed focus in your own journey towards Union with the horse. Whatever your riding goals, by tapping into the potential of your subconscious mind, using meditation and visualization and control of your own breath, you will be able to fully succeed in creating the harmonious balance, where horse and rider merge into one.
Yoga 4 Horse Riders will also help you to achieve a balanced seat and better understanding of how your own body functions as a communicative tool to the horse. As you begin to understand the bio-mechanics of your own body, you will be able to develop the necessary sensitivity and refinement to fully tune into the animal beneath you.
Learning and practicing yoga routines designed as simple 15-20 warm ups, some of which can even be done on the horse, or in riding clothes before you ride, better physically and mentally prepare you to cope with the reactions of your horse by loosening blocked or tight muscles and calming and stilling the mind. The 10 minute cool downs following, will leave you in a perfect state of well being for the next day’s activities. Both yoga and riding are timeless studies that involve journeys of self-discovery and growth, breathing and movement, cultivating balance, suppleness, flexion and mental focus, until Horse Riding actually becomes yoga!
What is meant by Union?
The word yoga means Union or “to make whole” and refers to the ultimate alliance between mind, body and soul. Hatha yoga, seeks balance of masculine and feminine energies in the physical and mental body, through a series of tested postures (yoga asanas) practiced with full self awareness and use of the breath. By improving your own mind and body awareness off the horse, performance and connection to the horse when mounted is positively and significantly enhanced, creating bonds of trust, communication and synchronicity between horse and rider, and the full understanding of the meaning of Union.
Basic meditation techniques will move you into stillness by quieting the constant chatter of the mind, help you to accept and not judge your own abilities and to be more present in the moment to listen, understand and be one with the horse. Self understanding is possibly the most intricate journey to becoming a great rider, and yoga can be the path to helping you fully achieve your desired equestrian goals.
- What physical benefits will I experience if I follow this program?
The positive and immediate effects of the holistic practice of yoga are endless and this small investment in your own self is worth a little attention. Reducing tension, lowering blood pressure, relaxing and soothing body and mind while increasing energy and mental clarity, and helping tight and blocked areas to relax and stretch without force or injury.
Locked joints create blocks of tension in the body, preventing you from being able to absorb the horse’s movement. Inflexible joints contribute to a loss of connection with the horse and instability in the saddle. Practicing yoga asanas (postures) will gently keep your joints lubricated and the surrounding muscles and ligaments supple, enabling you to develop greater flexibility in the saddle. Yoga 4 Horse Riders generates a more balanced tone in your large working muscle groups, important for stability and maintaining a secure position on the horse. Consistent yoga practice can help correct asymmetries in your body and contribute to a more balanced alignment, helping your ride with more poise and grace. By learning to use parts of your body independently, by using only what is needed, you will be able to fine tune riding aids and eliminate access physical movement. Learning to control and isolate the parts of your body, by operating more skillfully as an integrated whole, you will improve awareness and be able to maintain the integrity of your riding position through all the horses gaits and transitions. In the strengthening of this body and mind connection, a heightened level of awareness will directly affect your ability to influence the willingness and cooperation of the horse you are riding.
- In summary
Your yoga practice will not only benefit your equestrian pursuits, but can also influence changes throughout your life, at home, work, school, or play, resulting in a better physical and mental performance in all that you do.
Because of its holistic nature, yoga’s benefits reveal themselves on subtle levels, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. By incorporating the Yoga for Horse Rider program into your equestrian life you will;
· find you can fully participate in the moment, both on and off the horse
· have a mind that is liberated from unnecessary activity to better tune in to yourself and the horse
· allow yourself to reverse escalation of out of control situations by returning your attention to the simplest common denominator: breathing
· clear your mind, embrace silence and better incorporate powerful meditation and visualization techniques into your riding repertoire
· create a quiet mind, enabling you to achieve dynamic, rhythm and stillness on the horse
· be inspired to observe your emotions objectively, encourage the release of blocked emotions through the use of breathing and gentle movement, creating lightness and emotional health
· nurture inner harmony, and overall sense of wellbeing and peace of mind
· increase sensitivity and develop intuition, both on and off the horse
· be encouraged to take responsibility for your own development as a rider
· foster an attitude of compassion and acceptance toward yourself and the horse
The reasons for addressing the rider’s mental and physical states in order to be in a position to clearly reflect our intentions to the horse, slowly become obvious. If the rider is tense, the horse becomes tense. If the rider is relaxed, the horse becomes relaxed. If the rider’s movements are abrupt and unbalanced, how could the horse’s movements flow? Only when the rider has achieved sufficient levels of self-awareness, mental clarity, and physical balance, to enable him to communicate effectively, will the horse reflect the rider’s proficiency and skill. Isn’t it time therefore that we shift our constant focus from how the horse is performing, developing and progressing, and divert this attention more to the rider?
For more information on the Yoga 4 Horse Riders program, which is now being offered as weekend workshops around Iceland, Switzerland, Spain and Italy, as well as to riding individuals around the globe, contact Nicole Gibbard, firstname.lastname@example.org, or www.yogactivity.ch