During this time of learning from my living room, I’ve been taking advantage of some of the free classes offered by David Thind. The David Thind Method focuses Feldenkrais techniques and neuro-muscular programming. But today he sent out a message with a link to a YouTube class . . . on belly dancing.
Certainly [it’s] good for pelvic mobility and overall suppleness and coordination. For many people, improving various dance skills brings about a positive change in their self-image, and their way of carrying themselves including while riding. It’s also good exercise and it is fun “cross-training”. If you enjoy it, belly dancing can be a nice addition to your weekly routine where you do unmounted exercise to improve your riding. Especially when the movement is kept “within” the body as opposed to outwards, the controlled movement we allow when riding. But for cross-training purposes actually – equally helpful are larger more full-body movements that might even seen exaggerated, but still smooth and supple.David Thind
A little research shows that other equestrians have found belly dancing a good way to improve their riding.
Apart from the riding and Pilates, I absolutely love belly dancing! I practice every day and it really helps me ride my big-moving horses, especially in the sitting trot, as the fluidity and flexibility required in the lower back and hips, as well as isolation of the upper body, is very similar to riding.Linda Wilcox-Reid
Sometime during the clinic, Hilda [Gurney] suggested that riders should spend time with a hula hoop and pilates to strengthen their core. At the time, I didn’t think much about it as I am pretty strong throughout my core. Once I got home, I realized the hula hoop and pilates weren’t necessarily for strength building, but to teach the body how to move. All of a sudden, the idea of belly dancing or hula hooping made complete sense. Riding from our core doesn’t mean that our whole torso has to be locked. Our bellies and pelvic region can move independently from our shoulders!Karen Sweaney
I have to say it looks like fun and since I can do this in the privacy of my own house, I’ll give it a try. If nothing else I’ll get some belly laughs! I already have a hula hoop that I pull out when I’m stuck in Zoom meetings and want to get my body moving. It was a real shock for me to realize that what came naturally as a kid (at least I remember picking it up quickly), required a lot of relearning as an adult!
When the gym is open, swimming helps me stay fit, increases core strength and makes me keep my body still (I swim freestyle and backstroke). And this winter I’ve pulled out my cross country skis (might as well have fun in the snow), which is great for stretching hip flexors.
What do you do to stay fit for riding? Any suggestions of activities (like belly dancing) that might not be the first things you think of?