Yoga for Equestrians: Hips and Hamstrings
By Lindsey Memering
For the Hips:
Butterfly pose is probably a position we may have all encountered once in life if you’ve ever exercised. Here try and remember that you may not be able to get your knees to your mat but as long as you feel a stretch you’re working your muscles!
From butterfly I tend to move into rock the baby. Here keeping your sits bones on your mat, extend on leg straight out in front, and bring the other into a cradle in your arms. Remember to sit up here and keep your foot flexed to protect your knee. Alternate between legs.
Oh my all time favorite stretch here! I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t stretch into this pose for no apparent reason, other then it feels wonderful! Pigeon pose is something I can’t get enough of. Stretching your leg back as far as you can, bend the other leg in front of you while keeping your knee in line with your hips. Keep your foot close to your body and chest lifted open. You may not be able to get low with your butt towards your mat just yet but don’t worry about that.
For the Hamstrings:
Standing forward fold is a basic movement for even the most experienced yogis. Standing feet together, lift your arms up above your head with your inhale. As you exhale, bend at your hips forward reaching towards your feet. Now you may not be able to touch your feet or you might be so tight that this feels very uncomfortable. To ease that you can apply a slight bend to the knees. Hold this position for at least 5 good breaths.
From your standing position take a step forward so that your legs are about 3ft apart. From here forward fold over your front straight leg, placing your arms on your hips or mat along either side depending on what your capable of. Again try and hold this for 5 breaths.
Open lizard is also a wonderful stretch for tight hamstrings. Get into this pose from cobra or downward dog. From these poses you’re going to take a step forward beside your hand of that leg (right to right, left to left), press your chest forward, and try to lower your hips as much as you feel comfortable.
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.