If I ask a yoga class of riders on what they’d like to focus, inevitably most people say “hips and shoulders.” Most riders recognize that we tend to hold tightness and tension in these two areas, and that we need to do something about it to ride and connect with our horses well. Hence, last week’s practices addressed the shoulders, and this week’s practices focus on the hips.
The two main muscles on which we are focusing are the psoas and the piriformis (the “terrible p’s”), which need to be both supple and strong for us to ride well. The psoas is a deep hip flexor, bringing the knee up, while the psoas is an external leg rotator, turning the leg out (both of these muscles work along with other hip muscles, of course, and have additional roles, but these are the most important and basic). For more details about the role of the psoas in riding, refer to this post from July 2017.
After mentally taking some moments to transition into practice, begin with high lunge, moving into low lunge:
Thursday only: claps the hands behind you and lift the sternum into a backbend.
Low lunge with side stretch: place a block under the lower hand if stretching all the way to the floor is too far for you at this stage (this photo is from our yoga for riders e-book)
Virabhadrasana I/Warrior I pose: Feel the grounding of the pose through the feet, yet the uplift of energy through the upper body. Refer to second set of photos below for a reminder about knee alignment. Thursday only: Humble warrior (right side of photo below).
Virabhadrasana II/Warrior II pose: Grounded through feet, light with upper body. Note alignment of knee in second photograph below.
Thursday only: repeat last week’s bound extended side angle pose.
Warrior II leg alignment – it is especially easy for the knee to fall over the big toe or even further in here; think about rotating the thigh bone out towards the pinky toe.Thursday only: Half pigeon pose, then bend back leg (optional)
Upavista konasana/Seated wide legged forward fold: Keep knees and toes pointing straight up towards ceiling, even as you move deeper into the pose.
Side twist with bolster: Tuesday class, we did not get to this, but feel free to practice this pose as well if you are familiar with it. If not, we will return to it again in a future class.
Happy practicing – and sweet dreams thereafter 🙂