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  1. #1
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    Aug. 25, 2012
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    Default Pilates/Yoga for Helping the Crooked Rider

    As a spin off to my other thread it has become apparent to me as I make the transition to dressage that I weight my seat bones unevenly. Upon observing myself in the mirror I can tell that naturally my right hip and shoulder are lower then my left. So in an effort to fix my crookedness I am checking out pilates and yoga. However, I wanted to see if there was a preference among dressage riders as to what is more beneficial. Thanks for the feedback!



  2. #2
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    Dec. 31, 2008
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    I would say both actually. Pilates is going to help you create strength where you need it in your body, and yoga will help stretch you and create looseness. A lot of studios will offer both so look for a place that does. Also look for a Romana Pilates instructor that uses the equipment...as that is how Pilates is meant to be done and will give you the best results from what I have found.

    As a side note if you are imbalanced in your hips and shoulders it may be worth your while to also find a massage therapist that focuses on creating balance in the body. This is the type of work I focus on and have helped quite a few riders be more centered in the saddle while riding. Plus it has helped myself TONS so I know it works from being the therapist and the client. I used to have a very high right hip and could not get a bit of weight in that seat bone. After a series of bodywork sessions I can sit more evenly and am riding better than I ever have.

    Good luck!!!
    Free and Forward Motion through Massage Therapy
    www.amandastarrbodywork.com


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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by dressagevettech View Post
    I would say both actually. Pilates is going to help you create strength where you need it in your body, and yoga will help stretch you and create looseness. A lot of studios will offer both so look for a place that does. Also look for a Romana Pilates instructor that uses the equipment...as that is how Pilates is meant to be done and will give you the best results from what I have found.

    As a side note if you are imbalanced in your hips and shoulders it may be worth your while to also find a massage therapist that focuses on creating balance in the body. This is the type of work I focus on and have helped quite a few riders be more centered in the saddle while riding. Plus it has helped myself TONS so I know it works from being the therapist and the client. I used to have a very high right hip and could not get a bit of weight in that seat bone. After a series of bodywork sessions I can sit more evenly and am riding better than I ever have.

    Good luck!!!
    Thanks for the feedback! I am ideally looking for a place that will offer both so hopefully I can track down some affordable options. I have recently started seeing a massage therapist about 60 days ago as I know I carry a lot of tension in my shoulders and neck as well as I have a protruding disc at L5/S1 at my next visit I will talk to her about really getting into more of these issues.

    I have the option also of seeing a really great chiropractor that is very physical therapy driven and does acupuncture who I have used before and love it just isn't cost effective to see him weekly.



  4. #4
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    Aug. 7, 2011
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    I would not do either yoga or Pilates without a doctors release if you have protruding disks!

    Try a Sports Related Physical Therapist (not a tech), that works with or is recommended by your back doctor.



  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Effie1221 View Post
    I would not do either yoga or Pilates without a doctors release if you have protruding disks!

    Try a Sports Related Physical Therapist (not a tech), that works with or is recommended by your back doctor.
    Oh I've been signed off to do physical activities just to be smart. Not to do things that strain my lower back etc. The protruding disc was discovered a little over 7 years ago and thankfully doesn't cause me many issues.

    However, I will investigate Sports Related Physical Therapist and see what they have to offer. Thanks!



  6. #6
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    Apr. 9, 2013
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    Vinyassa or Power Flow yoga will create lots of strength in the core. If you are just doing hatha yoga, yes for the most part it is only stretching.
    Especially in a heated room, Vinyassa yoga is a very, very good workout. I would recommend trying a class before writing it off.

    Basically any type of structured workout beyond a cardio focus will help to even the body. I also enjoy lifting weights.



  7. #7
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    I have done Pilates for years, and although I got very strong, I was not able to fix my asymmetries. That required sending photos of me in action to a physical therapist, who identified which muscles were weak (left quatratus lumborum and gluteus medius), which were contracted (left pecs) to confirm them by exam, and give me specific manipulation and exercises targeting those problems. I am finally straight! After years of struggle, I am getting there.


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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by ~DQ~ View Post
    Vinyassa or Power Flow yoga will create lots of strength in the core. If you are just doing hatha yoga, yes for the most part it is only stretching.
    Especially in a heated room, Vinyassa yoga is a very, very good workout. I would recommend trying a class before writing it off.

    Basically any type of structured workout beyond a cardio focus will help to even the body. I also enjoy lifting weights.
    I actually did do a semester of vinyasa yoga during college and really enjoyed it. It has been about 4 years since then but at the time it was a good work out. Thanks for the feedback!



  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wicky View Post
    I have done Pilates for years, and although I got very strong, I was not able to fix my asymmetries. That required sending photos of me in action to a physical therapist, who identified which muscles were weak (left quatratus lumborum and gluteus medius), which were contracted (left pecs) to confirm them by exam, and give me specific manipulation and exercises targeting those problems. I am finally straight! After years of struggle, I am getting there.
    So I take it you knew what your asymmetries were before you sent photos to a physical therapist?



  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wicky View Post
    I have done Pilates for years, and although I got very strong, I was not able to fix my asymmetries. That required sending photos of me in action to a physical therapist, who identified which muscles were weak (left quatratus lumborum and gluteus medius), which were contracted (left pecs) to confirm them by exam, and give me specific manipulation and exercises targeting those problems. I am finally straight! After years of struggle, I am getting there.
    I have used pilates to help address my asymmetries and tightness - like any type of exercise, it all depends on the quality of your instructor. I had private sessions every week for several months, and used someone who is also a rider (and works with Mary Wanless). I think many of the programs actually cross over a bit - many Pilates instructors mix a bit of Yoga in and many Yoga instructors dabble in Pilates. So the real key will be finding someone that can help with your specific needs. Group classes and mat classes are not the way to start - you need some personal attention until you really understand the exercises.



  11. #11
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    I used to be very asymmetrical - uneven hips and shoulders, which was making lateral work more difficult as my gelding and I move up the levels (we're currently showing 3rd, schooling higher). I am very fit and have done yoga for years, but couldn't fix things. I started taking Pilates - private sessions once a week since November 2012 - and it has made a HUGE difference in my riding. I have gotten so much more even in my seat and with my shoulders and it has shown in my scores. I can't recommend a good Pilates instructor enough!



  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by MysticOakRanch View Post
    I have used pilates to help address my asymmetries and tightness - like any type of exercise, it all depends on the quality of your instructor. I had private sessions every week for several months, and used someone who is also a rider (and works with Mary Wanless). I think many of the programs actually cross over a bit - many Pilates instructors mix a bit of Yoga in and many Yoga instructors dabble in Pilates. So the real key will be finding someone that can help with your specific needs. Group classes and mat classes are not the way to start - you need some personal attention until you really understand the exercises.
    This is what I'm hoping to find and am investigating my options. Hopefully I will have success like you did! Thanks!



  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by HCF View Post
    I used to be very asymmetrical - uneven hips and shoulders, which was making lateral work more difficult as my gelding and I move up the levels (we're currently showing 3rd, schooling higher). I am very fit and have done yoga for years, but couldn't fix things. I started taking Pilates - private sessions once a week since November 2012 - and it has made a HUGE difference in my riding. I have gotten so much more even in my seat and with my shoulders and it has shown in my scores. I can't recommend a good Pilates instructor enough!
    Pilates does sound like the preference so far. Thanks for the feedback!



  14. #14
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    I have always been uneven, and I've been doing pilates and yoga for about a year and a half. I mostly just do pilates because I like it better. It has definitely helped asymmetry, though it takes quite awhile. I'm definitely better in the shoulders. It's the hips where you can't sit crosslegged and have both be the same height that takes forever. It is better, though. I've always had an issue with left half passes that I know is my problem (it's my left leg) and my half passes are much better.



  15. #15
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    It takes someone with the right training to identify the correct cause of your asymmetries. Its not always what it appears to be.

    I worked diligently for years to correct my crookedness. I got stronger, but not straighter. Yoga actually caused me the most damage to my natural gait. And I was working with a 'good' instructor. I was always very particular about the training that any yoga instructor had been thru. What has actually worked the best for me and has finally allowed me to be straight, is a type of structural integration....KMI. I would also suggest a pilates class taught by a rider. Someone trained to look for asymmetries and then correct the cause is the ticket. But its not always a particular practitioner. It might be a physical therapist. It might be a LMP trained in structural integration. It might be a chiro. It can be a frustrating path.



  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beentheredonethat View Post
    I have always been uneven, and I've been doing pilates and yoga for about a year and a half. I mostly just do pilates because I like it better. It has definitely helped asymmetry, though it takes quite awhile. I'm definitely better in the shoulders. It's the hips where you can't sit crosslegged and have both be the same height that takes forever. It is better, though. I've always had an issue with left half passes that I know is my problem (it's my left leg) and my half passes are much better.
    Happy to hear it helped! Do you just do the equipment or have you found the mat classes to be beneficial too? Thanks!



  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arisperson View Post
    It takes someone with the right training to identify the correct cause of your asymmetries. Its not always what it appears to be.

    I worked diligently for years to correct my crookedness. I got stronger, but not straighter. Yoga actually caused me the most damage to my natural gait. And I was working with a 'good' instructor. I was always very particular about the training that any yoga instructor had been thru. What has actually worked the best for me and has finally allowed me to be straight, is a type of structural integration....KMI. I would also suggest a pilates class taught by a rider. Someone trained to look for asymmetries and then correct the cause is the ticket. But its not always a particular practitioner. It might be a physical therapist. It might be a LMP trained in structural integration. It might be a chiro. It can be a frustrating path.
    Yes I am still doing some research and finding out what studios are an option for me. Unfortunately I haven't been able to track down a class taught by a ride =/ Thanks for the recommendations!



  18. #18
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    The only pilates and yoga I do is at 24 hour fitness. They are classes that I bring my own mat to. No equipment. I need to be in a group to push me. I never do it on my own.

    We have a new teacher I like, also, but, MAN, she has the exercises that hit abs I didn't even know I had. My upper abs are sore for five days!



  19. #19
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    I have taught yoga for riders and we focus on exercises that are helpful for balance, coordination, and stretching muscles that tend to get tight in riding. We also do a lot of "body scanning" to get in touch with our bodies to see if we can find any blockages and holding of tension and we work on letting that go. I have struggled with unevenness and back pain for years and yoga was the first thing I did that took my pain away and taught me the awareness to work on asymmetries.

    Like others have said, though, yoga (or pilates, whatever you choose) isn't going to be the only thing to help you. You need to look at your whole body and how you go throughout your day and what you do that contributes to your problems. For me, I noticed a few things that had an affect on my crookedness: sleep position, driving position, sitting position on the couch, mounting the horse. So much of my pain is/was lower back on the left and looking at all of these things made me notice a pattern.

    In addition to awareness and movement, it is helpful to work with a practitioner of sorts - I've done chiro, acupuncture, massage, cranio-sacral bodywork, physical therapy, etc. I don't think that one modality (by a practitioner or exercise-wise) solves all problems.

    I recently started ballet class and that has also been very helpful in my body strength. I'm using muscles I didn't know I had, and like riding, with ballet you need to be very even in your body, so it adds a new dimension of focus and awareness.

    Crookedness can be structural, but so often it is muscular - just like horses we are strong on one side and weak on the other. We need to stretch and release the overly-strong side and build strength on the weak side. It is a long process and something that isn't going to be "fixed" in a short number of classes.

    Good luck!
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  20. #20
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    I haven't finished this entire thread, but so far I have not seen either of the most successful programs to correct mis-alignment mentioned: The Alexander Technique ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Technique) and the Feldenkrais Method
    (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feldenkrais_Method)

    Both of these concentrate on balance and body awareness although they work in very different ways; neither are "exercise" programs per se. Instead they help you recognize imbalance and correct it. Yoga/Pilates gives your body the strength/flexibility to BE straight, but often we don't even realize where & how we are crooked.

    "Body Awareness" works on the connection between brain & body on a minute by minute level. Hard to explain, plus I'm no expert. But people I trust and who have used one or the other of these methods speak highly of the results.

    The Feldenkris Method was developed by a rider and is still popular with current riders and dancers. I was introduced to it via some friends who are professional dancers. The whole Mary Wanless thing was influenced in some part by these type of programs.

    As an older person who is terribly crooked because of arthritic hips, I am planning on using a combo of yoga & Fendercrise to help get me limber and straight again after this next THR.

    After reading this thread perhaps Pilates would be a good addition as well...



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