Saturday, June 18, 2005

For Horsemen

It's pretty unusual when people at my house are up and moving around energetically at 6:00 am. But that's what happened this past week.

It was horse camp week.

My daughter had saved her money for nearly a year to go to horse camp this summer. It was cancelled. Then we found another riding program. And it all came to fruition this week.

By 6:30 am Monday we were on the road. We arrived at Wild Horse Creek Ranch west of town right at 7:00 am. We were the first ones there.

I didn't stay. Richelle did. And from my perspective (Richelle's too) it was a GREAT week.

Wednesday evening Richelle came home with a sore back.

If she was going to be allowed to trot her horse Peter, she had to ride him twice around the outdoor arena in "two-point" position. "Two-point" didn't come as easy as everything else had.

I'm not an equestrian. So after she showed me what "two-point" is, I could see right away why it didn't come easy.

The two-point position is essentially the position a rider takes for jumping. It's only the rider's legs that support her. In other words her seat isn't seated in the saddle, it's hovering above.


two-point position Posted by Hello

Leg strength is required. My daughter's a dancer. She dances for hours each week. Her legs are not weak.

What might not be so obvious is that abdominal strength is required.

If you can't stabilize your core, your back and legs fatigue quickly. Then you get sore.

I wrote a bit about the transverse abdominus muscles, which play a key role in this stabilizing function, in April. (You can read that message at http://experienceyoga.blogspot.com/2005/04/sallie-says-suck-it-in-at-yoga-sculpt.html.)

Richelle went to bed early that night after a hot shower, a warm meal, and ibuprofen.

Stabilizing your core gives you power.

Speaking of power, the two-point position reminds me of utkatasana, the powerful pose.


utkatasana, the powerful pose Posted by Hello

It's often called the "air chair" pose. Please try it. It's great for shoulder stiffness and for strengthing ankles. And it opens the chest.

Stand up. Stretch your arms over your head, arms parallel.
As you exhale, bend your knees as if you were sitting in a chair.
Keep your heels on the floor.
Avoid leaning your torso forward.
Hold this position for several breaths. Then inhale and come up out of the pose.

Powerful, eh? The pose is also known as the fierce or uneven pose. Fitting.

Now try it again. Only this time, before your lower down into the air chair position, draw the circumference of your navel back toward your spine.

Adding this stability, rather than pushing your abdomen out under strain, keeps the back from collapsing and makes it easier to lengthen the spine and lift the torso up out of the pelvis.

It helps in other poses, and other activities, too--like lifting heavy boxes.

Don't just read about it. Get up. Experience it. Experience yoga!

Kevin Perry
www.ExperienceYoga.org

p.s., I haven't told my daughter this yet, but utkatasana is recommended by the great yogacharya BKS Iyengar...for horsemen. (Light on Yoga, p. 89)

p.p.s., I am a yoga teacher, not a riding instructor. So I kept my advice to myself. Ann and her daughter at Wild Horse Creek Ranch were fabulous teachers this week. Richelle "got" her two-point position and was very happy to trot her horse before week's end.

p.p.p.s., Want to know more about how yoga can help your horsemanship? Click here:


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