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."