Training the Mind of the Horse and Rider

Training the Mind of the Horse and Rider
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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Yoga and Horses

Monday, March 28, 2011

I had my first Yoga class today. Yoga and horses? Yes, Sally Swift, of Centered Riding, relied heavily on Alexander Techniques and Tai Chi for stretching and balancing exercises, and to prepare the mind. All good things when it comes to riding.

And Yoga is not easy! The stretching is ok, holding the position maybe ok, getting into position - not so easy! lol

I wasn’t the only new student to Yoga. There were at least 2 other ladies there that hadn‘t had a yoga class before. The instructor was young, but very clear and concise with her directions. She talked through the stretches and gave us time to perform the stretch at our own speed. I really liked her style a lot

The instructor had mats scattered around the room. I positioned one towards the back, and where I could see myself in the mirror. I found myself looking up and watching the instructor to see how she did a stretch and how she looked, then glanced at myself in the mirror. They were not mirror images!

Yoga is a mindset, and brings a peace and calm to your body. As the instructor talked us through the movements, I found it easier and easier to get in position and to hold the position. Breathe deeply, close your eyes, relax, and hold the position as long as you can, without overdoing it or causing strain or soreness to your body. And it became easier to hold the stretch the longer you “allow” your body to relax.

I would glance sideways to look at the instructor. I knew I was to be looking down and relaxing but I wanted to make sure I was doing the stretches properly. I’m sure I didn’t totally relax into the stretch as we were suppose to. But I wanted to make sure I was correct, as she cautioned about having a certain frame, like knee over ankle, I’m sure for balance and support. I’ll learn more as I keep going to lessons and I watching my tape.

My legs and arms were shaky at times. I would hold the stretch as long as I could, and believe me, it was not for very long. As the session continued, my arms, legs and core were being used in ways that they hadn’t been used. The shaky limbs weren’t a bad thing, and they didn’t hurt. But I realized what areas of my body I needed to build up endurance.

When we stood and faced the mirror for some standing exercises, I found that if I concentrated and watched myself in the mirror, I would hold the pose longer. If I glanced to see how someone else looked, I would lose my balance. I found that if I relaxed and just looked straight ahead without staring, I would just “be in position” and “be there in the moment” without trying to “hold“ the position. Every time, I came back to my mind and begin thinking about what I was doing, I would lose my position and my balance a little.

That was my moment of realization of what Yoga is all about for me. I need to let my mind go! I need to be in the “moment”. I need to totally relax, let me body do the position without thinking about it, let my mind go, and be calm. It’s almost like letting your mind go empty, without realizing it, until you come back to your mind and realize that you were actually not thinking about anything.

You are aware of what is around you, and then you’re not. It was like emptying your thinking process and letting go. A total surrender. And when I felt like that, I could feel the tension or tightness leave my shoulders. I only felt my deep breathing. I could close my eyes easier and be content.

As I breathed deep, closed my eyes, I let go. Not concentrating, but just stretching. Not staring, but aware. Not worried about losing my balance, but staying calm.

The breathing came very easy for me, since I’m doing the deep breathing with Centered Riding. Actually, I was breathing longer and deeper and got a little behind in the movements. But that was ok, as the movements are to be done at your own pace, and especially with stretching, should only be done as far as you want to stretch or able to stretch.

Yoga is going to help my riding! Yoga is about balance and breathing and calmness. Yoga is bringing everything that Centered Riding is bringing to my riding. Everything that horses need!

I keep going back to the difference I feel in my balance. In just one session, I know I can find an “inner” balance to rely on. That inner balance is a strange feeling as I’m thinking about it right now. I feel something inside me growing. I feel a strength.

And as I search for that inner peace and calm, I‘m feeling it. With Yoga, I feel it .

Now to put in the disk and continue on my own for a week. I feel a few muscles that need stretching. I’m sure they will be stretching as I ride, too!


JJ said...

I used to regularly take a Yoga class offered by my college (this was over 6 years ago). I really enjoyed it AND it was an incredible workout too. Good luck and have fun!

JasperGirl said...

I've always wanted to take an actual Yoga class. I used to do Yoga exercises that were on fittv, and I loved it. It's probably nothing compared to actually being in a class with other people though, lol. But, it was still nice and relaxing.

Tammy said...

You've talked me into it! Now on my bucket list....

Horses Are Our Lives said...

JJ, it is a workout! My neck muscles can vouch for that! and I almost toppled over a time or two.

JG, yes, take that class. I went, and there were actually other new people.

tv, come on over. I have a tape. But I signed up for classes in town too.


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