This morning I went out for a ride on my pony, Ladybird. We are lucky to live near The Prestwold Estate and this gives us miles of fields to gallop over. I’ve had Ladybird for just over a year. We bought her for two year old Noah and his cousins to ride, they really love it in the summer but on wet or frosty winter mornings their hands and feet just can’t stand the cold.
So I have taken to riding Ladybird and she loves the freedom I give her. Once we are on the fields I slacken my reigns and let her go. It has taken me some time to have the confidence and the freedom of mind to do this but mindfulness has got me there. I enjoy my riding so much more when I am mindful. I notice the power of the horse, my eyes watering with the speed, the beautiful countryside and my core muscles working as I stand in my stirrups.
Although it may look as though the horse is doing all the work it really is quite a work out for the rider too. It is all about balance and allowing the horse to flow without too much interference. Sort of the same concept as training the brain. Giving balanced direction without trying to force any particular behaviour.
Switching our core on is so important in life what ever physical movements we are doing. Be it gardening, running, riding, cleaning or lifting we need to protect our backs by making sure our core is engaged. The trouble is it is it is so easy to forget.
To activate your core muscles you need to draw your belly button into your spine and pretend you are trying to stop yourself from doing a wee (using pelvic floor muscles). The more often you manage to do the exercise during the day the better the strength you will build.
I know from running injuries, that when we are in pain, it is easy to keep focused on rehabilitation exercises given to you by the physio. As soon as things start to feel better we forget about the exercises that we are supposed to keep doing to cure ourself. The niggle then returns because we are not doing the exercises as we should and we are back to square one.
Mindfulness teaches us to be present in the moment. If we have an aim like remembering to switch our core muscles on it is so much more likely to happen if we are mindful. We think clearly and our minds are not so hectic with other thoughts. We are able to think before we act, which is exactly what we need to do in order to keep our core switched on at essential times.
So even galloping full pelt through a field, mindfulness can keep you fixed in the moment, feeling the movement or the muscles of you and your horse, and enjoying every minute. Absolutely amazing.
Mindfulness really does go hand in hand with exercise. If we strengthen and condition our body we can perform better. With mindfulness we can exceed our own expectations,learn to avoid injury, and boost our performance. Come on a Revitalise day to learn how to exercise your mind and to learn ways of more effectively training our bodies.