Tuesday, November 22, 2011


At ski patrol training lately we talk a lot about tension vs. traction and we tend to use a lot more tension.  Traction is something we tend to only use for mid-shaft femur injuries, but tension can be used to realign the body or make an attempt to realign a bone or joint that is out of whack.  All of this talk about tension made me realize that for the past six months I've been really tense.  My muscles are tight and rarely relaxed enough for me to calm down 100%.

This. Must. Change.

One of the big triggers for me that made me realize the tension I've held in my body is my riding style of late.  (And by "of late"  I mean these past six months.)  It just doesn't feel as good as it used to.  Not as effortless.  I come away hurting.  Going back to riding Stan helped a lot.  Riding a balanced horse is very pleasant, but it still doesn't come with the ease it used to. (By the way, Orion is looking and feeling a lot better and has put on lots of weight!  His new mom is working with him using alternative and natural methods.  More on him here.)  

I rode Stan bareback the other night on a whim.  It made a big difference for me.  I even went so far as to buck-up and ride a few jumps bareback.  I impressed myself with that pursuit - I was seriously expecting to end up on the ground.  Boy was I surprised to find it was a lot easier for me to jump bareback than in a saddle.  I even went so far as to line him up for a jump and then drop the reins and extend my arms out on either side.  Success.  He launched himself a few times and I stayed on.  I wasn't as sore as I expected the following day.  The reason?  I was more relaxed riding bareback.  I managed to trust my abilities and ease into doing what I loved the way I used to instead of obsessing focusing on every little thing.

My healthier diet change has brought about many more dreams at night.  Luckily, no nightmares.  This has left me feeling mentally restless while my body does tend to be somewhat rested.  But now, for the past month-ish I wake up many mornings with a sore neck, tight jaw (that I sometimes can't open without a little massage), and more recently, headaches.  Waking up with a headache is the ultimate worst start to your day.  They're hard to move past.

Over the past couple days I've noticed how tight the muscles in my neck and jaw are and have practiced releasing and relaxing them.  That persistent little headache eases away a little each time.  Hmmm, maybe I should freaking chill out?  The job stability/grad school/real world worries have had me tense since the beginning.  I guess I thought I would ease into it and things would go away.  Errr, wrong.  I need to relax more than I'd thought about things.  Make an active effort.

I'm going to try to put yoga into my life a little more frequently.  Try to get myself on a schedule with it.  It will help me out in all the aspects of my active life (riding, skiing, etc.).  I'm exploring my options for which type of yoga I'd like to pursue, or maybe I will do Pilates?  I know riding books for both exist, but I want to figure out the best exercises - where best = most successful.

So here's where you, the reader, come in:
Have you tried yoga or Pilates for relaxation, riding, or both?
What do you find to be most successful?


  1. I love yoga. Pliates wasn't a great fit for me. I really like the hot yoga - simply because I'm stiff and the heat helps me limber up. I like the Ashtanga over Hatha because it has more movement. Hatha more for relaxation and meditation - for me anyhow. On a side note - I took a beginner ballet class (for adults) and that was great too - used a lot of opposite muscles than riding ones.

    Here's a great Yoga studio - I don't think they have one down in your neck of the woods yet...

  2. I'm currently doing a few short (30 minutes) yoga sessions a week - just at home with a DVD. I have found this very helpful for improving my flexibility, and afterward I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders, and I can breathe better. I'm not a Yoga fanatic, so I can't comment on all the different forms, but I have found it really helped with relaxing my back, hips, and shoulders.
    I also use a tennis ball to massage away the knots in my shoulders (from the desk job!). A little tennis ball action before bed does wonders!

  3. Tension is such an issue... and it seems the more aware of it you are, the harder it is to relax. I hope you find a solution that works!