Yoga Breath for Show Nerves
By Lindsey Memering
Show nerves and stress are something most of us deal with on a regular basis in this industry. As someone who struggles with regular anxiety as it is, I found it very hard to control the heavy feeling in my chest before I entered the show ring. At some points in the past I would even drive myself to becoming sick I would go into a panic so much.
Now between experience, age, and a new found internal peace I’ve found a system that allows me to remain serious, competitive, and even a bit relaxed when at a show ring. My biggest factor was starting yoga to begin with, this form of exercise helps you maintain a place that lets your mind relax and fix that into your body. The key piece is your breathing when doing yoga. The breath I’m going to explain is what you’d find in a “slow flow” or a “yin” type of practice or class. Here, movements are meant to fully relax your muscles, let them lengthen, and let gravity help move you rather than your mind.
I’ve been to a few classes that practice in different ways but the best breathing practice I’ve found for horse show nerves go as follows:
A deep 8 second inhale, followed by an at least 6 second exhale. This type of breathing goes straight to the brain and muscles. Often times closing your eyes is also helpful into shutting out the outside stresses when calming yourself.
This simple breathing has done wonders for me and the horses I sit on. I’m sure like many others out there we’ve heard that our bodies correlate to our horses. So now imagine if you’re relaxed and ready to enter the ring like its another day at the office how happy your horse will come to follow you.
Yoga within itself is amazing for most riders out there! It promotes lean muscle building, a calmer stress level, and a more balanced lifestyle. So do yourself a favor my fellow equestrians, take a moment to just breathe.