Riding Fit

Staying Relaxed

April 9, 2012

Learn to relax and calm your showing nerves with yoga breathing exercises.

Are you a nervous rider? Try this four-step yoga breathing exercise from your saddle.

Question:

I get really nervous before I show, which makes my horse tense up, too. What are some exercises I can do to help me relax?

Answer:

From Linda Benedic, co-writer of “Yoga for Equestrians

Improper breathing affects your horse. It’s your horse’s nature to reflect what the rider brings to it. If you’re stiff and distracted, more than likely your horse is as well.

I suggest yoga! This ancient practice can deepen the connection with your horse through proper breathing. Correct breathing creates relaxation in both body and mind, enabling you to focus and maintain your balance and rhythm while riding.

Try an exercise called “conscious breathing.”

Work on your breathing in a slower, non-pressure environment. This exercise from “Yoga for Equestrians” is great for regaining a sense of calm in times of anxiety. It can be done sitting in a saddle or chair, or standing with your back straight, feet together and your arms at your side.

Centering Breath Exercise

  1. Place your dominant hand on the front of your body one to two inches below your navel. Place your other palm against your lower back. Close your eyes and take several deep breaths.
  2. Think of your hand as possessing a magnetic pull to draw your breath down into your abdomen. Breathe slowly and deeply, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. Feel this entire area become energized as it expands and contacts with each centering breath. As you inhale, allow your abdomen to expand under your dominant hand. As you exhale, use that hand to assist the abdominal muscles in pushing out all the air.
  3. Continue breathing fully with an eve, regular tempo as you reposition your hands lightly on your thighs.
  4. Allow yourself to enjoy the combination of feeling relaxed and energized. Stay here for as long as you like. To finish, slowly open your eyes and breathe normally.