The Day I got Hit by a Train (oh, sorry – the day I tried Yoga for the first time!)


Some time ago I got given a voucher for yoga sessions. Having done Pilates and various exercise programmes over the years I didn’t think this would be much different but I have always wanted to give it a go. The reason for this and for my general interest in various posture, body awareness and breathing exercises in more depth is to understand what can be a good, sustainable, complimentary exercise routine for an ambitious, amateur rider.

What I mean by sustainable is that it brings clear improvement to the rider’s performance (i.e. feel, body control, posture control, balance control) in such a way that the rider is encouraged to stick to the regime.

There are riders using yoga on horseback (not quite the thing I was after) and there are also numerous books about Pilates and Yoga for riders out there. From my own experience, Pilates can and does help with riding but not everybody is keen on it. Some of my riders do yoga and I wanted to know the difference first hand. Sinceย I had the voucher I finally got organised and booked my first Yoga session.

Well, let me tell you, this thing is BRUTAL ๐Ÿ˜€

It started with a lovely ambient of candle lights and relaxing scents all warmed by wooden interiors and barefoot, quiet people. And then, my body got ripped apart. In fact, it’s a couple of hours since my session now and I still feel most muscles in my body as if I had done some serious workout or ridden a few horses more than I am used to. It’s quite amusing and surprising. I feel no localised pain, just a low grade muscular tiredness that washes off all over me and makes me feel rather good!

My class was a beginner one and the things I noticed brought me most difficulties were positions requiring a lot of hip flexibility. I am noting this down because pelvis flexibility as well as lower back stability is what we need as riders.

I liked the overall theme of very precise positioning, emphasis on neutral spine, straightness, symmetryย and deep muscular engagement without force. My favourite exercise was an odd floating one (the crow? – see image below) when you pretty much lift yourself off the floor on your hands with your knees on your elbows.

I had no idea I would be able to do it but when I figured out how to shift my weight within my body I actually managed to keep myself in the air. These small adjustments within the body are also something I would be looking for in an exercise routine for riding.


Another aspect of yoga which I am curious about is its influence over our mental state. Riding at amateur level is pretty much 50% physical skill and 50% mental training so a routine that works on both would be one of my choice for Aspire programmes. Many exercises were quite difficult to do well so I am looking forward to improving and will report back in a few weeks time!

I am sure many of you out there experimented with either Yoga or Pilates – ย did it help with your riding skills? Are you sticking to a routine or exercising from time to time? Drop me a comment, I would love to know about your experiences.

6 thoughts on “The Day I got Hit by a Train (oh, sorry – the day I tried Yoga for the first time!)”

  1. I’m pretty surprised they had you doing the Crow in your very first class & at beginner level too! I’m very impressed that you could do it ๐Ÿ˜€
    I started doing yoga about 5 years ago for my chronic lower back pain (I blame my kids)
    I have a “back routine” of 30 – 40 minutes. If I did this every day, I’m pretty sure I would be pain free but I can’t kick my ass into doing it every day, there’s always something else to do. A few weeks ago I started going to a local yoga class which is Kundalini yoga rather than Hatha… it’s good because it pushes me even tho I’m not into all the chanting & stuff!
    Yesterday there was a lot of sitting cross-legged while doing upper body movements. I woke up this morning and realised I had no hip or back pain…
    Yeah I think it’s good, and at my level of riding anything at all which loosens me up (and stops bits of me hurting) has to help my riding!

    1. Hello ๐Ÿ™‚
      That’s great to read about the long term loosening benefit and lack of pain surely sounds like a good deal too.
      I must say that when the crow exercise was shown I thought “you must be joking!” and I wondered what is included in intermediate level sessions ๐Ÿ˜‰ To be fair though, that group has been formed for a while so perhaps they were further down the line of elasticity that I am ๐Ÿ˜‰
      It was very surprising to actually be able to do this posture! Having said that, I could barely touch the outside of my feet in a normal sit-down-with-legs-straight position while keeping my back in correct position so I wouldn’t admire my abilities too much ๐Ÿ™‚

      Thank you for stopping by!

    1. Isn’t it just! I can still feel it in my body two days later but I will stick with it for 3 months and then try to evaluate it properly as far as riding benefit goes.
      It’s a sort of an exercise I would really struggle to motivate myself to do at home (I really dislike proper stretching) but I know it’s good for me.
      Another thing I forgot to mention in my post was that the session left me really energised to the point I could not fall asleep for hours with my brain in very sharp state. I thought the effect was supposed to be relaxing ๐Ÿ˜‰
      I am quite curious about it all, we shall see what I think after several weeks…

      1. See I always heard that it gives you energy by releasing all of the negative energy ๐Ÿ™‚ Definitely give us feedback! I stuck with it for a few weeks and I thought it helped with my riding… but not long enough to really know

      2. Ah that’s really good then, I have so much planned for end of the year and beginning of the next that I will need all the energy I can get ๐Ÿ™‚ I will report again for sure ๐Ÿ™‚ Come on, get back to it and share my pain!

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