Yoga & Equestrians - What Are The Benefits?
Here at Vivendi Apparel, you’ll no doubt know that not only are we huge equestrian enthusiasts but we’re fitness enthusiasts too so when we came across some fabulous online videos by the incredibleYoga Bella UK aka Helen Gilbertson, we just had to give it a go. Fast forward a few days, and as always I’ve got to know the amazing woman behind the brand, only to discover she’s not only a yoga instructor but an equine enthusiast too; more specifically part of a vaulting based equestrian display team called Galloping Acrobatics.
Helen has been teaching yoga for over 3 years now and teaches what she calls a ‘dynamic style’ of yoga. This is where you take postures and link them together in a sequence. Helen warns all of her students that, “generally, if you take a class with me, you’re going to get a bit of a glow on. My students are encouraged to find their challenge and that is likely to look different for everyone.”
Helen’s equestrian background however is a little more varied. She began riding with her local pony club, making part in everything they had to offer before moving on to train in positive reinforcement, otherwise known as clicker training with Hannah Weston. Fast forward to today and she’s performing as part of the above mentioned vaulting display team.
Yoga And The Equestrian Sport
When it comes to yoga and equestrianism, Helen says, “I discovered pretty quickly that Yoga can be super beneficial for Equestrians. In more ways than one. Even on a purely physical level, regular Yoga practice can improve your strength, flexibility, range of motion, body awareness and balance. It’s all important stuff for a decent rider.
Developing your core strength for example, enables you to absorb and react to the horses movement without being thrown around up there. They all interlink; if your core is stronger, your balance improves. Likewise, improving balance helps improve your body awareness. If you’re more aware of your body in space, you will communicate with your horse more effectively.
The most obvious one however, is probably flexibility. Would you like to find it easier to get your foot up in the stirrup or swing your leg over? Would you like to loosen off those hips and inner thighs once riding makes them tight? Maybe your lower back is getting stiff? Yoga has a lot to offer.”
While the above does of course focus on the physical benefits, Helen is keen to draw attention to the mental benefits too stating, "Yoga can provide many more opportunities. The postures can be challenging, which gives you a harmless environment to practice dealing with difficult things. You can first observe how you react to being challenged and then you get to practice how you would like to react.
Maybe you get mad or frustrated when it doesn’t go to plan, when you wobble or fall. Maybe you lack patience when you’ve been trying to touch your toes for months! Patience, calmness in the face of challenge, smiling or laughing about the fact you couldn’t do it this time, learning to pick yourself up and give it another go, accepting the ups and downs are just a few more things we get to practice within Yoga.
Horses are often difficult beings; it doesn’t pay off to get frustrated with them. Developing patience and emotional control can be pretty useful.”
Helen’s Helpful Hints
If you think you’d like to give yoga a go yourself, then we suggest you take a peek at some of Helen’s helping hints:
- Give It A Chance - When you start a Yoga practice . . . give it a chance! like learning anything new it's going to be confusing maybe even a little frustrating and that's all part of the process. Don’t expect it to be easy. Find a teacher and style you like. You’ve got plenty to choose from, loads of styles and loads of teachers, sharing yoga in their own way. I tell my new students, you may not have enjoyed that class but please don’t give up on Yoga. It’s unlikely but . . . maybe it’s me you’re not fond of? There will be a yoga class/teacher that you like. Especially at the moment when so many teachers are going online. You could practice with teachers from anywhere in the world.
- You Don’t Need To Be Specific - It doesn’t need to be “Yoga for equestrians” you'll still benefit from incredible flexibility, body awareness and so much more.
- Have Realistic Expectations - look at it in the same way as schooling your horse once a week in comparison to a little every day. Allow yourself to focus on you, without the need to compare yourself to others. You are unique and that’s a wonderful thing. Listen to your body, focus on you and your own journey.
- Remember The Many Benefits - Yoga has much more to offer than just stretching and you absolutely do not need to be flexible to begin practicing Yoga. In fact, there are no prerequisites for practicing Yoga. Apart from breathing, we even like to teach you how to do that!
If you’d like to try some Yoga with the fabulous Helen, we suggest you check out here online videos, from the comfort of your own home. For more Yoga Bella UK content, you can also check out herInstagram page too!