New Horse Power – The New Indian Express
Express news service
Lisa Chambers, based in London, is quite an equestrian. She has been riding a horse ever since her father gave her a pony for her sixth birthday. After being vaccinated this year, she took her first vacation since the start of the pandemic. With a friend, she stayed at an exclusive ecological resort north of Marbella in Spain, which is home to 70 purebred Lusitanian stallions. But the main attraction was yoga on horseback led by a special trainer.
âThis was my third time doing equestrian yoga, and it was exactly what the doctor ordered after a difficult year of being locked inside. I am very comfortable on horseback so I can push myself to try different asanas under the guidance of the trainer, but this was the first time for my friend who was reluctant to combine horseback riding and yoga. She practiced her postures on the ground, channeling the horse’s energy by touching it or using it to find its own balance, âsays Chambers.
Equestrian yoga is nothing new. Yoga Journal magazine notes that the practice was originally created by yogis to improve their stability and balance and help them stay focused on the present while being in contact with nature. It is believed that riders of old incorporated balance exercises on horseback in order to calm and tame unruly horses, and to forge a strong bond between riders and their animals.
This unique but increasingly popular wellness practice has also caught the attention of Indian riders. Rudrika Singh, riding trainer and owner of Adagio Riding Stables in Gurugram, Haryana, is keen to incorporate the practice into his lessons. Already a certified equine therapist who works with people with the autism spectrum, she also hopes to someday become the first professionally certified equestrian yoga trainer in India.
âI come from a military background and exercise has always been an important part of training for us. All of our lessons begin and end with stretches performed on horseback. I think it helps the rider sit better in the saddle and find their balance better. Horseback riding in itself is a complete workout and yoga is a great complement to it. I always tell my students to practice yoga at home, but simple stretches on horseback are also important, âshe explains.
According to Singh, Adagio horses would adapt well to possible equestrian yoga classes, as they are trained from the start to be in unison with the rider. âBut I would like specific training in the field before presenting the program at Adagio, because when you are on horseback, you have to be very sure of what you are doing. You have to become one with your teammate, the horse, âshe adds frankly.
Long hailed as highly intuitive animals, horses are ideal companions for yoga. Some yoga practitioners believe that this practice deepens the connection of the rider with the horse, as they capture the emotional environment, including the energy of the rider. In the west, equestrian yoga instructors teach students to connect with the horse’s breathing, use the animal for stability while doing ground poses, and guide advanced students through complicated movements like pear trees on horseback.
However, Diya Kapoor, founder of Kriya by Diya, quickly warns against trying new modes of yoga without proper guidance. Having taught yoga for over 13 years, she says, âPersonally, I don’t think yoga on horseback is a good idea, because yoga is all about focus. You shouldn’t be thinking about anything else while you are practicing yoga. You need to focus your attention on the parts of the body you are working on. I wouldn’t want to split the attention between doing the yoga pose and trying to balance on the animal.
Additionally, riding requires concentration and the animal is unpredictable – you and the horse need to be safe. Yoga on horseback can eventually lead to injuring yourself or the animal, so I recommend you try the two activities separately! Singh also believes that competent guidance and slow progress in the practice of equestrian yoga is recommended, and that you should not try it on your own. Lawyer Shriya Misra, a regular at Adagio, sums it up: âI think horseback yoga is for people looking for something therapeutic and healthy, not so much an equestrian activity. Having said that, I would try it if my trainer organized it. She is the one who knows her horses and riders best and I entrust her with my life.
Equestrian yoga helps you …
Develop a deeper seat and lower your center of gravity by opening your hips and building a stronger core
Open your shoulders so that your arms can move more freely with the reins
Improve your balance by being able to put more equal weight on your sit bones and stirrups
â¥ Stay connected in the saddle while watching that next jump
Use your body, mind and breath to build that deep connection and relationship with your equine partner
Be healthy and be one with nature
Riding lessons and equine therapy at Adagio stables
Location: Baliyawas Village, opposite Teri Gram, Gurugram-Faridabad road, Haryana