what 30 days of yoga can do for your horsemanship
Is it worth the commitment and time?
I originally set out to do yoga for thirty days and share with all of you how it helped improve my riding. But after starting my little yoga experiment I realized there were so many more aspects of my horsemanship that were changing. Many of these added perks were too good not to tell you about so I’m filling you in on everything from shifts in riding to having an easier time doing chores to being a better human.
I’m not a total newbie to yoga. I’ve done it in the past, taking a class here and there. I even tried to stick with it for thirty days before. I knew I liked it and I would always feel great after each session. But still never made it enough of a priority to create a consistent daily practice. I had no idea about the cumulative benefits that I was missing out on.
Before we dive into the benefits that I’ve experienced some of you may be wondering what made me stay with it this time? Two things, the first was telling people I was doing it. There is something about stating your commitment out loud to other people that make it more binding. The second was the right program. I chose to do Yoga With Adrian’s thirty-day program called True (you can find it on youtube for free). I’m not affiliated with the program in any way but I highly recommend it. She does an amazing job of making each practice meaningful and interesting, plus she is incredibly down to earth and entertaining.
Namaste, the divine in me honors the divine in you.
How 30 days of yoga transformed my horsemanship
The way that True is set up is that each day has a theme that builds on the previous day to help you become the truest most authentic version of yourself. For me starting off each day by setting an intention of how I want to feel, spending the next twenty minutes focusing on it in the practice, then letting it go changed my entire day. It brought awareness to my feelings throughout the day and made easy to recall to my intention and approach each situation with that in mind. Something would go differently than planned and my intention for the day was right there guiding my response.
On a physical level, I felt all the perks you would expect from doing extensive stretching every day. After about the tenth day in a row, the areas that I normally need to have adjusted by a chiropractor were realigning themselves every time I stepped onto the mat. I also gained more flexibility to ride in sync with the horse’s movements. A better range of motion in my joints (heels down, following seat, independent hips are all way less effort). There are also the balance benefits, yoga requires a great deal of soft focus and balance much like riding. After practicing so much off the horse I now find that staying centered requires much less effort now (picture riding circles without having to think about staying in the middle of the horse). The awareness of independent movement has also been tremendously helpful. Having more control over engaging some muscle groups while others remain relaxed has made it so much less confusing for my horses to feel what I am asking them to do. And their jobs are so much easier because now I’m not involuntarily in their way.
The varied pace of yoga builds a ton a patience for someone like me who tends to always want to work swiftly and efficiently. I was amazed at how much more difficult the slow days were for me. It made me see that I have a great deal of patience for others but not nearly enough for myself. If someone else had asked me for twenty minutes of my time to help them with something slow and repetitive I would have no problem with it but to give that time to myself was a whole nother story. This new awareness of patience for myself has definitely shown up for me both in riding and just moving through my day.
30 Days and counting
I’m hooked, after the thirty days I took a few days off and it just didn’t feel right so now I’m back at it every day. Sometimes I just do my own flow that comes to me as I start stretching. Some days I practice from the Yoga With Adrian youtube channel. Regardless of where the guidance is from it always set my day on a track with more ease and intention. It’s totally worth the taking twenty minutes each day for myself.