A little background: I have been doing hunters since I was 9. Recently, I've started eventing and I have a beautiful Custom Saddlery Victory Saddle. I am only eventing at the lowest levels (BN/N)
Will yoga help me with opening up my hips/pelvis? I have finally found a comfortable stirrup length, but I find my pelvis trying to close on me. In my lesson yesterday, I grabbed the pommel and really rocked my self/pelvis back, and felt this immediate relaxation of my seat and of the horse. (That sounds weird?? Sorry.)
I have a bad lower back (which is naturally weak and sway backed) and even in the hunters for the past couple of years I have tried to make sure to minimize that as much as possible as I have pretty severe back pain if I don't. I try to really engage my lower abs and get rid of the curve.
I also find myself having difficultly really dropping my thigh, even if I take my stirrups out. I do wonder if it's became of my CC seat for such a long time.
I have trouble relaxing with my seat.
Anyways, my eventing trainer is going out of town for the month, and recommended me to take some yoga classes to learn how to loosen up my hips and legs. Any other exercises that might be helpful? Will yoga really help?
In short. Yes, definitely. I naturally have very tight hips and hamstring, none of them help with a good dressage seat. Yoga help tremendously. However, don't expect a quick change. Those muscles take weeks, months or even years to stretch out safely, but don't give up, and you will see the reward.
Another suggestion is Pilates. Once your hips are sufficiently opened, you will need to properly engage your core to keep your back from getting swayed, and it may takes more core than you previously realized. Yoga will help in this regard but I find Pilates really kick in gear for this need.
I've been doing dressage forever and have a lot of back problems. The yoga and especially pilates is great for that and the hips. I had no idea my hips were so bad. It's a long road--it takes a long time to retrain the body--but it's the right one.
Oregon, sitting on my couch looking out the window at a mountain
Yes! And in fact, I am a yoga teacher and do a program just for riders! I've suffered from back pain in the past and the only thing that keeps me comfortable is a regular yoga practice. Yoga has helped me tremendously and in many ways: I've overcome a lot of fear issues, I've gained a lot of body awareness, I've been able to develop more "feel," I'm more confident, etc.
I'd be happy to talk to you about a specific approach for you - I love to help riders! You can check me out at facebook.com/yoga4equestrians