The Horse and the Floor

Riding horses–16 years.  Yoga–3 months.

I started doing yoga several months ago to vary my workout routine. While I am now practiced in some of the poses–now knowing the differences between the downward facing dog, monkey, happy baby, child’s, forward and reverse warrior poses and others I can but some I would never attempt to pronounce, I am more flexible, the class flies by (and I HATE gym glasses, always have except for my riding lessons) but I cannot fathom doing yoga without an instructor right now.  I am still a newbie, basically a clueless follower.

A far more skilled rider, during my lesson this week with a new instructor while mine is traveling, there was an instruction of “relax your back” that immediately made me think about how much these two seemingly differing sports are alike.  They are both mind sports, as well as grueling physical sports that use muscles once unknown to me (and are both sports that people question “is that really exercise?”)

To succeed in both, I need to be truly “in the moment” leaving all troubles, issues, work, family out of my mind. I have to think–but clear the mind–to be free.  And it is possible. One small physical change–flexing the feet in yoga-dropping weight to the ankles in riding, walk the fingers to stretch to wide straddle-loosen the fingers on the reins, breathe, can have a huge impact on the experience.  Core strength is critical for success in both, one reason I began yoga. And I feel a sense of peace, of contentment, of completeness when complete with both.

I still don’t get as much endorphin-high after yoga class as I do when I have a great ride–less to conquer, less danger, less adrenaline rush; there are no warm-blooded animals to routinely brush and outfit and clean up after, but I truly enjoy yoga: the search, the poses, the stretching, the camaraderie.  Both sports are centuries old, and I can see why they have endured  for many years as recreational pursuits. C

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