Use Your Mind / Body Connection
By Jennifer Malott Kotylo
It’s the little things that can sometimes make the biggest differences in our lives, and that goes for riding too. Your attitude can go a long way towards helping you ride more effectively, more confidently, more calmly. Try some of these seemingly simple “tricks” to improve your attitude and help your confidence and effectiveness in the saddle.
Do a “Tarzan Thump”
Have you ever wondered why gorillas pound on their chests? It’s a way to alleviate stress and boost their immune system by activating their thymus gland. You can do the same thing! Simply make a fist, and gently “pound” up and down your breastbone for a minute or two.
Do de-stress by breathing through alternate nostrils. Here’s how:
Block your left nostril with your finger and inhale through your right nostril.
Then close the right nostril and exhale through the left.
Inhale through the left, then close the left and exhale through the right.
Continue following this sequence for 1 to 3 minutes.
Smile, hum, or sing – Your attitude and mood will be affected immediately! Just think about how you feel like a rock star every time you belt out your favorite song in the shower! Trust me, your horse won’t care if you sing out of tune or forget the words. He’ll be happy that you are relaxed and cheery and your attitude will rub off on him!
Focus on Your Body – No matter where your mind might be, your body is always present. If you can’t get out of your head, take a moment to reconnect to your body by focusing on its sensations. You can do this in or out of the saddle. Begin with your feet and work your way up to the crown of your head. Are your feet warm or cold? Do you feel any tingling? How does the ground or stirrup feel on the bottom of your foot? Are you scrunching your toes? Can you feel your socks? Do your feet feel heavy or light? Etc. etc. As you scan up your body, take slow, deep breaths, relishing the feel of living in the present of your own fantastic body.
Give yourself a mini-massage. You can use your body to reduce anxiety and increase feelings of mental well-being by giving yourself a mini – massage. Massage releases serotonin and dopamine into your system, which are your feel-good hormones. These feel-good hormones will help to calm an anxious mind. Massage your head, face, ear, neck, or feet. 2 minutes will do it. You will feel refreshed, relaxed and ready to go. Do the same for your horse! A two-minute wither massage can work wonders for your equine friend. (If you have the time, why don’t you go to a professional and really give yourself a treat!)
I want to hear from you! Your health and fitness is just as important as the health and fitness of your horse so e-mail me with any questions or challenges you are facing!
Jennifer has developed a passion for body awareness and biomechanics while pursuing her lifelong quest of international level dressage riding. She is a certified Core Dynamics Pilates Instructor, certified Equilates teacher and certified Balimo practitioner. Jennifer is also the creator of the DVD program “Improve Your Riding Through Movement.” No matter what style of riding you are into – no matter what your experience level is and no matter what your age may be, these DVDs will help you create a body that is more flexible, safer in the saddle and one that can enjoy riding for years and years to come. Jennifer is also a national speaker on both health and wellness topics.
To contact Jennifer, visit her website at: http://jenniferkotylo.com.