Today I went for a combination yoga and dressage clinic. Neither instructor was new to me. My main takeaway, I need to get disciplined about doing a bit more yoga on my own. It might be time to sign up for a class again.
The format was ride for 15 minutes, while both riding instructor and yoga instructor watched you. The diagnosis was tight shoulders (absolutely) and tight hips (not exactly, more like too much protecting of lower back and keeping glutes tight too often, but hard to see these things from the ground).
I chose Sparkle for today, she is the one who should have been called “Mary Poppins” as she is ‘practically perfect in every way’, but instead, she is Little Miss Sparkle, which also suits her well. She is perfect for a clinic where you expect your horse to hang out in cross ties for 40 minutes while you do yoga.
The yoga work was good, worked on my shoulders, identified that when she expected a hip stretch I was getting an intense abdominal stretch, and that my core right around the rib cage is weak. Sylvia will send a synopsis to me of the exercises we did. A prep for crow is more of what I need than actual crow. One thing I realized in my own yoga practice…back when I was doing it a lot, I am way better at the engage, and use muscle side of things than the relaxing side of things…and a lot of yoga class is focused on the engage, use muscle, so the prep poses are usually better for me. I can power through the full pose, using the wrong muscles.
Then I changed into breeches, I’d decided that I did not want to try to do yoga in my breeches, nor did I want to deal with rubs from ill placed seams in my yoga pants, so I just swapped pants, put Sparkle’s bridle back on, and it was back in the saddle.
Sylvia asked me if I knew mula bhanda, and I admitted that I had forgotten which one that was…so she explained it, and mentally, I realized that is my light seat that I’m learning to use in my rare lessons on Chip for passage. I need to keep lifting my lower, front rib cage…the part of my core that is weakest, and roll my shoulders back, without losing the middle back. Which in the Anusara yoga I’d learned that would be the shoulder and kidney loops, which are really good for riding. that was not the way that Sylvia or James taught it, but when I mentally translated, it was what they wanted to see.
This did not feel as good as what I am used to, it felt like I was bouncing more on Sparkle’s back, but it likely is that I need to get more fitness in that upper core area and it will work better.
I think I need to figure out what sort of body work I need on my shoulders, they are ridiculously tight, I may look into rolfing or myofascial release, I don’t think just yoga will do it, since they were ridiculously tight when I had a regular practice. Yoga will help, but it isn’t going to do all of it without some external work.
On the riding lesson side, I didn’t feel like it was anything earth shattering. Yes, my hands still bounce sometimes, but the ‘quieter hands’ mantra is no longer working. It has turned into a stressor, instead of focusing on something else that makes my hands quieter, it is turning into a focus on the hands, and then they get worse. Hearing it over and over again really started to aggravate me, rational or not. Partly because I do work on my hands a lot, and touching the saddle as a reference point is keeping my hands too low and too far back. I was also getting a tiny bit frustrated because they kept asking me how it felt. It felt like riding, and wasn’t really earth shattering in feeling better or worse. And, when I mentioned the phrasing that worked for me, there was some element of debate, which would be fine if it was a technical document at work, but when I’m the student and I’m the one absorbing the information, if I say the words that work for me, just move on if the end result is what you, as an instructor, wanted to see.
Interestingly, I think that 2 years ago, this would have been much more inline with what I needed, instruction-wise. Now, I just realize that I need to knuckle down and do my yoga and fitness on my own. Oh, and keep working on that core right around the base of my front ribcage.