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Yoga for Riders

Yoga for Riders

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Published by Samantha Huston

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Published by: Samantha Huston on Jul 19, 2012
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Yoga for Equestrians
February 15, 2011
Back hurting? Moving a bit gingerly the day after a ride? Yoga stretches may be just the answer forbetter flexibility both on and off your horse.
YogaFit instructor and medical massage therapist Risa Jackinsky has developed a yoga program specifi-cally for riders in partnership with the Mind and Body center at Hidden Creek Ranch in Harrison, Idaho.She is pleased to share a basic stretching program and yoga poses with Equitrekking.Jackinsky grew up conditioning endurance horses. Her long-time passion for movement and how the bodyworks, its challenges and limitations led her to Idaho to integrate yoga into the centered riding program atHidden Creek and believes equestrian exercises are important.Her yoga classes at the guest ranch focus on how to prepare the body for riding and subsequent movementafterwards. Hour long classes are geared towards a wide range of fitness levels, suitable for everyone.
“Yoga is a dynamic connection between body parts that is strengthening but also fluid, a strong and  soft aspect important in riding," says Jackinsky.
Risa begins her sessions by demonstrating breathing techniques. “The first and mostessential step in yoga is getting in touch with your breathing. I suggest my studentsimagine the spine as a tube drawing the breath up into the body, feeling the bodyexpand and then relax as we expel the breath with each exhale."“Relaxed breathing visualization transfers to riding," Risa emphasizes. “If you havetrouble finding your seat, bring your mind back to concentrate on the breath.You'll find slowing your breathing helps shift your weight to a deeper seat, allow-ing your low back and sacrum to relax, sinking correctly into the saddle."
“Horses respond in kind to our attention and our degree of relaxation," she notes. “If we greet our horse with stress, the horse feels our stress. Getting in touch with our breath slows us down and gives us a more peaceful approach to the greeting of our horse."
 
The yoga stretches pictured concentrate on opening the back, hip and inner thigh areas and also help buildcore strength and flexibility. Practiced daily, you should find a difference in how your body feels duringand after your equestrian pursuits.Always consult with your physician before you begining any new excercise programs to make certain theyare right for you.
 #1Sunflower
Flowing movement to warm up the body. Begin with inhale in upward position.Exhale as you lower to second position. Repeat ten times.
#2 Modified Pigeon
This position encourages hip openings and addresses the low back and lateral portion of the leg. Begin onback. Extend left leg. Cross right leg over left above the knee. Lace hands through opening and grab up-per leg under the thigh. Lift head, pull and hold for five breaths. Repeat with other leg. Gradually work to-wards holding the pose for ten breaths.
#3 Modified Butterfly
Concentrates on hips and inner thighs and relaxes the sacrum. Lay on back, put feet together and let theknees drop. Hold through five breaths. Set a goal of holding the pose for ten breaths.
 #4 Cat-Cow
 
A great stretch for the back and abs. Become aware of the flowing move-ment of the spinal column throughout the entire exercise. Begin on allfours. Inhale in flat back position, exhale, and stretch your back up likea frightened cat. Hold briefly.Exhale and let back sink. Repeat four to six times.
#5 Seated Spinal Twist
Excellent for core strength and flexibility. In a sitting position, extend leftleg. Bend right leg and place it over the left leg at the knee. Wrap leftarm at elbow around right knee. Twist body to the right. Hold both rightand left twists for 5 breaths, working up to ten breathson each side.
#6 Kneeling Camel
Opens chest and front of the body. In this stretch, contract your abs, chin onchest, hands on front of thighs. Exhale. Inhale as you lift your chin, rollyour shoulders back and stretch backwards; exhale as you drop your handson the back of your thighs, flowing with the breath ineach exhale. Use the breath to work deeper into thepose.Inhale and move back towards the front, exhale as youmove your hands towards the front of the thighs. Re-peat five times, working up to 10 flowing move-ments.
About the Author
Susan Seligman is an equestrian and adventure travel writer fromNew Mexico.

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