I got an invite a few weeks ago to attend a beginner yoga class with a friend of mine. I'll admit right now that it's not anywhere near the first time I've been encouraged to try yoga. Until recently, I've always dug my heels in and been too 'busy'. I've always imagined yoga to be a bit of a "spiritual-get-in-touch-with-your-inner-self" type endeavor and that scared me, being the super logical, not overly emotional type person that I am. Add to that my short and not exactly graceful stature and I was pretty sure that physically yoga would be near impossible for me. Nope, sorry, I’m much happier riding/running/biking – something with a goal, a destination, a purpose.
So, despite all my doubts, I was guilted into going. The class was going to be cancelled if someone else didn’t sign up and my friend was going to be really disappointed if that happened.
And it was good! All those things I struggle with in my riding? The instructor noticed them when I walked in the door, even before the class started, and picked a few poses/stretches she thought would help. “Keep your shoulders back.” ”Don’t turn your feet out, you’re making your stance weak and asking for ankle/knee/hip trouble.” “Eyes up!” “You need to imagine a line from ankle/knee/hip” “Get your power from your core. By collapsing your shoulders you are giving away that power” “Think strong, but relaxed.” – it was all there –every single one of the things my poor riding instructors nag me about…and it all made perfect sense when confronted with the fact that I literally cannot balance well enough to do some of the poses if I am not using my body correctly. If anything, it’s a little harder to have a weak body position in yoga than in riding. Let’s face it, at my riding level, my horses certainly let me know when I’m not pulling my weight, but the consequences are usually just that they don’t go as well as they should. If I fell off my horse every time I let my left shoulder collapse I’d have learned long ago to STOP doing that J
I’m sure many of you out there are smarter than me and incorporate yoga/Pilates/stretches/proper body position into your everyday lives and exercise routines. For those of you out there like me who only really think about it when your riding instructor is nagging you for the billionth time, try working on it outside of riding. Seriously. After a yoga class, I feel like I’ve had a really great riding lesson focusing on my position. All the same muscles ache to tell me I’m doing it right, no horses were confused in the process, and the cost is a measly $10. I think that’s a win.
That being said, I’m still not entirely convinced yoga is exactly what I was missing in my gym routine – I still have my reservations about some of it. The dark room and ‘Zen’ music is, I think, always going to give me the giggles J. Perhaps something more martial arts based or strength based will be what I end up liking better. For now though, this is an excellent intro for a beginner like me, and, as mentioned, is pretty much directly applicable to my riding - a huge selling feature for a horse nut like myself.
Anyone out there have something they’d recommend for me to try next? I heard a rumor I’m finished work and heading home VERY soon so I’ll have even more time to pursue my never ending quest to become a better rider - with a horse to ride, evenJ