5 Yoga Poses for Long Hours in the Saddle

There's nothing quite like a long trail ride on a riding holiday. The freedom, the peace, and sometimes the adventure along the way. However, it's true that after a lengthy ride, you often experience soreness in various parts of your body. Some riders complain of back pain, while others may experience discomfort in their knees, shoulders, or a general sense of "sore, tired, and stiff muscles."

But no worries, because Melissa from Equi-Yoga is here to help! Melissa is an expert in yoga, mindfulness, pilates, and fitness tailored for equestrians. In this blog, she shares 5 poses that can not only make you feel better in your skin, ease aches and pains, but also enhance your comfort in the saddle.

So, be sure to give these exercises a try on your next riding holiday holiday. Let's get started!

Lizzard pose


- Step back one foot and keep the knee of your front leg above your ankle. Push against an imaginary wall with your back foot (your knee does not rest on the ground).

- Your hands are shoulder-width apart and on the inside of your foot (not as in this picture, where the foot is between your hands. Nothing wrong with that, we just work less on opening the hips deeper then).

The slightly more intense version is where you lean on your forearms. In either case, pay attention to the length in your back!

Think: chest open and forward, long back and hips low!

Why is it good for riders?

This posture helps open up the hips and provides a deep stretch for the hip flexors, and in some cases, the groin area. It's crucial for your hips to maintain sufficient mobility and flexibility to effectively communicate with your horse and maintain a well-balanced seat in the saddle. Riders rely heavily on their groin muscles, and excessive tension or a sensation of tightness in this area can lead to discomfort and restricted movement in other parts of your body. It's a chain reaction where one issue can impact the other.

Half split (ardha hanuman)


- Come on hands and knees, from there step 1 foot between hands.

- Bring your foot slightly forward (think knee above ankle and then slide forward a bit).

- Extend your front leg (while doing this, make sure to keep your hip above your knee and not sit on your heels).

- Bend over your extended leg with a long back.

Extra stretch for riders: flex your foot off your extended leg (i.e. ; pull your toes towards your face), this way you will feel a more intense stretch in the calf and not just in the hamstring!

Why is it good for riders?

This position targets the hamstrings and calf muscles, relieving tension and potentially alleviating back pain. Enhanced mobility and flexibility in your hips and legs can lead to a more comfortable seat in the saddle. Plus, it's bound to feel fantastic (at least in hindsight)!

Forward fold + shoulder opener


- Place your feet hip-width apart.

- Stand upright and make a long back, as if someone is pulling a string from your crown upward.

- Intertwine your hands behind your back, inhale deeply and bring your chest forward and toward the ceiling (try to bring your wrists together)

- On an exhale bend forward with length in your back and imagine your hands falling over your head toward the floor.

Extra tip: Do you feel too much tension in the back of the legs?

Then keep a bend in the legs and think "belly to thighs." It is important to always adjust the posture to what feels right for you. A stretch that feels intense is ok, too intense and pain is never good!

Why is it good for riders?

This posture not only stretches the hamstrings and calves, which is beneficial for riders as mentioned earlier, but it also involves opening the shoulders. If you're a rider with a rounded upper back, this may feel quite intense. However, it's worth noting that stress tends to accumulate in the shoulder area, and our daily activities can contribute to tension in this region. Consider activities like desk work and driving, which often involve sitting in a "closed" posture with the front of the shoulders and chest.

Downward facing dog


- Come to a plank pose and from there push your hips upward. Think of this as a pyramid shape where your hips are the highest point.

- Above all, keep length in your back here instead of immediately wanting to stretch your legs.

First bend your legs, think of a long back and from there try to touch the ground with your heels more and more WHILE keeping that long back.

No worries if this seems impossible for you, this is so for 9 out of 10 riders who start with yoga

Tip: Practice makes progress...and it feels gooooood!

Why is it good for riders?

This posture offers a chest and shoulder opening, elongates the spine, and delivers a comprehensive stretch to the "back chain" of your body. It simultaneously lengthens the calf and hamstring muscles, promotes relaxation in the lower back, and provides a thorough stretch for the muscles along your back.

Extra plus: This boosts your energy level!

Butterfly + forward fold


- Come sit down and make sure both sitting bones are grounded in the mat.

- Place the soles of your feet together, fairly close to your hips, and let your knees fall outward.

- Grasp your feet with your hands and create length in the back on an inhale.

- On an exhale bend (slightly) forward while maintaining that length in the back.

Why is it good for riders?

This pose offers a deep stretch for the groin, with added benefits of hip opening. As mentioned earlier, for riders, groin stretching is highly recommended.

Are you curious for more for more exercise inspiration? Go and visit the website of Equi-Yoga or follow her on instagram. From personal experience, I can vouch for the magic of her exercises, making you feel your best both in and out of the saddle!

Ready to discover the horse riding holiday of your dreams?