Staying focused in the saddle and on the mat, during the holidays

So it’s that time of year, the holidays are in full swing. This time of year is often difficult, and stressful on so many people. Getting everything accomplished on the every growing to do list causes us to feel run off our feet. It’s no wonder that our practice on our horses, and on our mats suffer. So I thought this month’s blog post would be about ways to fit your mat practice in, to help you combat the stress, and helping you stay on track in the saddle. There is nothing better for stress than wine, oh sorry, I mean exercise. Well both really if I am being honest, but since this is about Pilates I’ll keep it there.

Did you know that to do the Fabulous Five, in a contiguous flow, takes less than two minutes!!! That’s right, less than two minutes. That’s six reps of each exercise, one flowing into the next. Speaking from years of experience, these five exercises can change around my entire day! To follow along with the flow all you have to do is go to the video page on my website, or visit my YouTube channel! How do these help you in the saddle? They will help you maintain the core connection, and control you need to have the connected, independent seat, we all strive for. When we get stressed we tend to rely more on our hands, in general and especially when we ride. We are so busy this time of year, and when we finally make it into the saddle it’s hard to shut off the get it done, check it off the list mentality. Due to this, we become very much rushed and put our balance into our hands to get the jobs done. This takes us out of our seat and creates unnecessary blockages in the energy for our horses. Less than two minutes and you can talk to that connection you need, so that when you finally get on your horse, it’s there ready to work for you and your horse.

Another go to for me is the seated series; these are Spine Stretch Forward, Twist, and Saw. These done in a flow take less than two minutes too!!! I love using the wall for Spine Stretch Forward, it really helps me be honest about my posture. It’s a great stretch, also it gets all that stale air out of your lungs! Let’s face it how many deep breathes are we all taking when we are stressed. These really reconnect the breathe, posture, and lengthen us back out of the fetal position. You can follow along with these, as well on the webpage of YouTube. How do they help you in the saddle? These allow you to truly ride the horse from back to front, without being tricked into closing your hip angle forward or side to side; therefore creating an escape door for the horse. Most importantly they help you control the whole body on the circle or in lateral work, allowing you to know when you loose perpendicular, and giving you the tools to correct it quickly. You are no longer at the mercy of centrifugal force, allowing you to show your horse where to be as well. Learning these gives you an amazing insight into your balance, and your horses, so you can always pick the balance point, instead of having it picked for you.

Extension work, is some of the most mood lifting work you can do. This literally takes you out of the beaten down, over stretched upper back feeling. It’ allows for you heart to open, it gives your tight hip flexors permission to lengthen, and it just plain feels good. Yes I have a fun, simple extension series on my webpage and YouTube channel that you can follow along with, and it’ll take five minutes. Or you can pick and choose which ones help you the most and use them throughout your day to lift you back up. How can these help you in the saddle? In so many ways, most notably is your posture, if you carry your head in a forward, or downward position, that disappears. If you are tight in your hips and have a hard time sitting, this trains your hip flexors not only how to be long but to be strong within the length. You learn how to engage and work your hamstrings as well. This is huge for allowing proper use of the leg, and creating a steady, still leg. One that is effective when it needs to be and stable when not in immediate use. These are just a few of the benefits, there are so many that I could really get going here. I will say this one last thing, back bending helps your adrenal glands, which at this time of year are in overdrive. So show them some love and bend back a bit each day.

Finally, there are all the fun rolling exercises. These are great messages for you spine, and really work on core control, and balance. There are videos on the webpage and YouTube channel, walking you through these as well. They are a nice way to roll the tension out of your spine, and maybe laugh a bit too.

All of this can be done in pieces as you need it. Two minutes here, two there. It’s a great way to kickstart a busy day, or release at the end of one. Pick and choose what feels good to your body, when your body is happy, you and your horse will be too. Most importantly remember to take two minutes for yourself. You’ll feel better, and be able to enjoy the beauty of the season.