Yoga, an ancient Indian practice, focuses on techniques of connecting mind with body while allowing one to improve flexibility, increase spinal decompression, strengthen and tone long lean muscle mass and encourage recovery from other exercise forms. When practiced regularly, these techniques can exponentially improve rider mobility, functionality and fluidity. Connecting the movements shown below with proper breathing patterns can allow for more sound and peaceful thought which is essential for connecting a rider with his/her horse. The benefits of yoga are indefinite. Before your next day at the barn, give the following poses a try: Cat- Cow Stretch
- Begin in table top position with palms and knees pressed into the floor and toes tucked under your feet.
- Activate your deepest abdominals by drawing your navel into your spine and begin lowering your belly to the floor as your back arches- eyes gazing towards the ceiling.
- To alternate, release the tops of your feet to the floor and reach the center of your spine towards the ceiling. Your head will drop as your gaze shifts towards your navel.
- Continue alternating these movements as inhale and gaze forward; exhale as you shift your spine to the ceiling.
- Starting in an upward V shape with palms and feet both pressing into the floor, bring your left foot to the front of your mat, to the inside left of your left palm.
- Bend your left knee, bringing your left leg to a 90 degree angle from the floor. From here, lunge into the front leg, pressing up through the ball of your right foot.
- Repeat on the opposite side.
Extended Side Angle
- Begin in Lunge pose (above).
- Drop your left foot to the floor, angled towards the center of your mat at a 45 degree angle.
- Bring your right hand to the inside of your right leg as you lift your left arm towards the ceiling.
- Turn your gaze towards the ceiling with your left arm and hold.
- Repeat stretch on the opposite side.