I have always had a fascination with horses. A couple of years ago, I discovered a wonderful ranch that specializes in natural horseback riding, an approach that forgoes the use of physical restraints on the horse and instead focuses on communication between the animal and the rider. Emphasis is placed on establishing a relationship based on respect and understanding of horse and human behavior. A lot of this must be developed through ground work before even being able to actually mount and ride a horse. Although I have been taking lessons for over a year, last week was my first actual riding lesson. I was so excited! Though I have ridden many horses before, this would be my first time doing so in a natural horseback riding style. I could not wait!

When the moment finally came, I realized how challenging it was, not only energetically, but also physically. One of the main differences was that rather than using reigns to steer the horse in the direction that I wanted, I had to use specific hip movements to communicate my commands. Doing this made me realize how tight my hips were and my riding instructor suggested that, if I ever wanted to become a good rider, I would have to address this issue. Not knowing where I work, she suggested I find a holistic health center and work with an osteopath and yoga instructor to help release muscle tension and open up the hip area. Hmmm… Lucky for me, I know just the place!

Right away I turned to Michelle, our amazing yoga instructor here at the center, and explained my situation to her. Although I am doing this for very personal and specific reasons, I know that yoga can be beneficial to anyone wishing to improve their flexibility. Seeing as many of us spend long hours sitting at a desk, the issue of hip tightness is all too common and can often lead to back pain. Working on hip opening exercises can help improve circulation, ease back pain, provide stability to the spine and help maintain proper posture. Once Michelle understood my needs, she designed a class to help me work on this area and we had our first private session last Friday. We started the class with a few rounds of sun salutations to warm up, and then slowly moved through a hatha floor sequence where we held postures for about a minute. After the class, my body already felt much looser! There is definitely a long way to go and a lot of work to be done but I know that any efforts made toward self-improvement and well-being are always well worth it.



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