Yoga teacher and life-long equestrian (27 years!!), Vicky Smith, wants to let you in on a secret: Daily stretching can take your equestrian game to the next level.
“Practicing has totally changed and benefited my riding,” Smith says. “From balance, strength, fluidity with the horse, to focusing in the present moment and just breathing through the challenges and the pre-competition nerves.”
If you’re not sure where to start, you’re in luck: Vicky is sharing her top poses to practice when you’re outside of the ring. Try incorporating into your daily routine—even if it’s just 15 minutes—and reap the benefits of a stronger, leaner body.
“By focusing on poses that can open our hips, we'll be able to develop a deeper seat, a lower center of gravity, and thus have better motion in our bodies to move with the horse.”
Poses to try: Child's pose, Butterfly, Eagle, Lizard pose, Shin to Shin and Pigeon pose.
“While we want to be soft through our core, it is just as important that our core is strong. Think about when you make a transition, its all through the core. The better our core strength, the more balanced and grounded we are.”
Poses to try: Any variation of Plank, Boat Pose, Chair, or Dolphin.
“Open shoulders means better mobility in our arms to the movement of the horse. We need our arms to be fluid at every gate. In order for our arms to be fluid, our shoulders need to be open. Secondly, when our shoulders are open, they relax down the back thus giving us a better seat on the horses back.”
Poses to try: Child’s pose with blocks, Thread the Needle, Backward hand clasp,and Eagle arms.
Mind & Breathe.
“Breathing is the answer. You can calm your nervous system, and tell your brain to focus, simply by changing the way you breathe. This is so helpful before going into the competition ring.”
Poses to try: Balanced Breathing (Inhale for 4 counts, exhale for 4 counts. Close your eyes. All you need is 1 minute.)
“I focus a lot on lengthening through the body. Lengthening through the spine, through the legs, the arms, thus helping our seat and our position.”
Poses to try: Cat/Cow, Cobra, Upward Dog, Warrior Variations and Fish pose.