May 07, 2020

Why Yoga? with Lisa Bauman

Photo courtesy of Lisa Bauman.

I'm broken, like most eventers. Duct tape, bute, and get on with it, right? We, as riders and competitors, treat our horses significantly better than we treat ourselves. A few years back I was gearing up for a fun season with a nice string of younger horses when I got kicked in the side of the knee. Yoga was a large part of my rehab for it and I came back stronger and faster than my orthopedist thought was possible. I also became acutely aware that my collective injuries were causing some minor (or not so) imbalances in the saddle. For example, I struggled with canter half pass right because I was perpetually sitting a bit heavier on the left side. I was out of balance - mentally and physically.

One of the things I love about Yoga is that you can ramp it up and kick the #!(#%! out of yourself, or you can slow it down and it feel like active stretching. Anything you do has a direct impact on your time in the saddle: get fitter, get softer, get kinder, get stronger. This is why I started Om Riding. We combine Yoga geared specifically for equestrians with traditionally formatted clinics (ie. dressage, show jumping, cross-country, gymnastics, etc). As a result, we are able to address the mental and physical side of riding before we even get into the tack as well as get insight into some of the rider imbalances prior to beginning the gymnastics.

Here are three basic Yoga poses you can try at home that will help increase your flexibility and strength, in and out of the saddle.

Plank Hold

  • Strengthens core - improves literally every aspect of riding.
  • Reduces back pain - frees usage of your back in aids, transitions, sitting trot, half halts, etc.
  • Improves posture - improves your position in the saddle, increased effectiveness of your seat.
  • Improves balance - the goal is to stay on and in the middle, front to back and left to right.
  • Strengthen shoulder girdle - increases your ability to ride the horse off your back. Effective use of half halts, plus you will stop getting yelled at to sit up and bring your shoulders back!

    Goddess Pose

    • Tones core and glutes - stabilizes your position in saddle.
    • Stretches hips/groins - gives you a more stable, quiet, active leg without pinching.
    • Strengthens muscles of legs - increases effectiveness of your aids.
    • Lengthen spine/improves posture - improved posture/pelvic tilt to increase correct seat.

    Crescent Lunge

    • Strengthen/tones thighs, hips, butt - effective use of your aids, specifically lateral movements and the two point position.
    • Balance - develops flexible stability, increases your ability to follow the horse's movement, independent aid application.
    • Backbend/heart opener - helps front of body expand, increase energy, use of breath, improved posture/seat in the saddle, reduces fatigue.

    Here is a quick 10-minute flow video for people to do before they hop on their horses. It's short, sweet, and to the point. It focuses on loosening the hips, back, and shoulders. It's light impact and you do not need a yoga mat for this flow!

    Currently, I am unable to travel for clinics due to COVID-19 so we have moved to an online platform. It's been a fun shift and a great way to stay connected with riders nationally. As we hope to begin to travel again, we will continue the online classes as a way to help riders get more time on the mat. Anyone is welcome to join! Classes are Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7:00 p.m. More information is available here.

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