Yoga for Equestrians: Shoulders
By Lindsey Memering
I’ll start off by saying I am no where near a professional or a certified instructor, just a fellow horse person trying to keep my body from falling apart quicker than this sport already makes it happen.
Yoga has helped my riding in more ways than just physically. With the fast-paced gypsy life we all live, yoga has helped me put my body at ease for at least an hour a day. I have also learned how to practice proper breathing techniques, which I’ll explain later, that help me refocus my mind when I get anxious about a task while riding. Now onto the good stuff!
Horseback riding of most disciplines causes tension and lack of flexibility in some key areas. These I’ve found are focused but not limited to; hamstrings, lower back, hip flexors, and shoulders. I’m going to explain some nice, super simple movements that help to strengthen and relax these areas.
Now a strong key factor in these movements is your BREATH! You must breathe, breathe, and breathe again. Most positions are beneficial when holding for 5-8 long deep breaths. Try and extend your inhales and exhales to around 6-8 seconds in and out. Also remember that yoga is also the strongest the more you practice.
These are all very basic movements that can be applied into any flow or daily life. None of these require previous yoga experience or strength training, just yourself and a positive mind. My back pain has severely decreased from what it was 4 months ago from doing even 30mins of stretches like this 5 times a week and that within itself has benefited my riding career. Horseback riding is very physically demanding on all portions of our lives, so do yourself a big favor. Take some time for yourself, grab a mat, find a quiet place, and take a few breaths to bring a more positive self to you today.
Now this is an awkward pose, but it literally feels amazing. Place both feet flat on the floor and bring your flat portion of your hands to your waist. If you can’t get your feet flat, stand your feet wider apart until you can do so. Try to place the outer portion of your elbows against your knees and push your arms against your knees for a few breaths. Remember to breathe and only push your body to what feels comfortable for you rather than the image provided. You may feel a bit of a stretch right away or you may need a few moments.
Another movement just to help is to stand tall, feet together, and arms out at your sides. From this position roll your shoulders and arms in a circular motion both forward and back. I find doing both movements about 5-6 times each is beneficial but feel free to do more depending on your level of comfort.