Tag Archives: fitness

Rock and roll

The pelvis is the foundation of the riding seat.

– Sally Swift from “Centered Riding”

Pelvic anatomy

Pelvis diagram posterior view

Pelvis - posterior view

The ischial tuberosity are the two bones of the pelvis that you sit on.

Each half of the pelvis is composed of three bones, the ilium, the ischium and the pubis, that have fused together during development. The topmost bone (the one that forms the pelvic rim) is the ilium. When you put your hands on your hips, they are resting on the iliac crest.

Side diagram view of pelvis

Side view of pelvis

Pelvic Anatomy Sacro-iliac Joint: This video gives a good 3D rotational view of the pelvic bones, as well as describing a reason that we are stiffer in movement as we age.


Amazing example of how the body can move – hips and spine. Belly dancing by Sadie from Denver, CO.

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Filed under Anatomy and Physiology

New Year challenge

I have done easy yoga stretches for the last several days. Now I plan to work on a New Years Yoga Challenge by Esther Ekhart. The challenge is to do 10 Sun Salutations in a row.  Surya Namaskar, the Sun Salutation, is a series of 12 postures (asanas) performed in a single, graceful flow. The original challenge starts with one Sun Salutation on the first day. Two Sun Salutations on day 2 and so on… building up to 10 in a row.

This challenge gives a good goal and structure for making slow changes to build strength, stamina and flexibility. My goal is to do the 10 Sun Salutations, but I will break the challenge into smaller steps. I will also modify the poses to easier versions, as Esther’s example is by someone already flexible. Ultimate goal is to do the full 10 Sun Salutations with good flexibility and strength. It’s a big goal. I’m also going to attempt to talk my husband into joining in. That may be the biggest challenge. LOL!

First… I will review and learn the asanas, then begin to put them together into one complete Sun Salutation.  Next I will begin the original challenge, but will proceed as slowly as necessary in order to do the 10 in a row without strain.

Here is the Sun Salutation challenge:

Will continue learning about the human skeletal system, as visualizing and understanding the bones will help achieve proper form and posture.

That is my modified slowed down challenge. Maybe you want to try this too. There will be upcoming posts that will follow along with my learning and progress.

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Filed under Human health, Yoga

Awareness – Body Scan

Twice this week I awakened before dawn when it was still dark outside. Sitting in bed I did some stretching feeling where I was stiff. Where was I holding tension in my body?

I could hear my husband breathing on the other side of the bed and one of our cats quietly snoring at his feet. Moving my joints I heard clicks, cracks and pops. My right knee has a grinding sound just before I straighten it out. When did I develop this sound? Was it when I twisted my knee this past summer? The knee is much weaker now and perhaps damaged a ligament.

How do my joints feel as they move? I note the different ways my hands, elbows and shoulder joints move. What happens if I move my shoulder with my palm up? What happens if I move my shoulder with my palm down? I hear the click and pop of my right shoulder. My collar-bone doesn’t connect to my sternum properly on that side. Could this cause me imbalance in my body? Is there a difference in how my shoulders can move on my left and right sides?

I feel tension in my shoulders and neck. I consciously tell them to relax. Am I still holding tension? Rolling my head from side to side my neck makes quiet grinding noises and then a couple of loud cracks. My neck feels less tense after the cracks.

I imagine the atlas and axis vertebrae and the joints at the base of my skull. Can I move my head on the pivot points without bending the rest of my neck? Feeling with my fingers on muscles of my head and neck I move my head slightly nodding up and down and turning side to side.

I lay back down. I often find myself holding tension. Am I actually relaxed? Breathe in to count of 4, breathe out to count of 4.  It’s like my body is on guard and holds tension to prepare to react. Breathe in to count of 4, breathe out to count of 4.  Am I ready for fight and flight?  Breathe in to count of 4, breathe out to count of 4.  Can I just focus on my breath and not think of anything else? Even for a breath? Breathe in to count of 4, breathe out to count of 4.

How can I tell the difference between relaxed and tense? I have read about a body scanning technique that presents a contrast to help become more aware of holding tension. The body scan tenses a set of muscles to feel the contraction and tension. After feeling the tightness, then you tell the muscles to relax. Feel the difference.

Starting at my toes I tense each area of my body and hold the contraction a few seconds, then ask the area to relax. – Tense the foot by pointing toe forwards, then relax. Tense the foot by pulling toes backwards, then relax. I work my way up the body tensing and relaxing each area. Continue down my arms. Clinch my fists, then relax. Move to my shoulders. Lastly I’m squinching up parts of my face and sticking out my tongue.

My other cat jumped up on the bed to investigate. I practiced mindfulness by feeling his soft fur on my hands and listening to his rumbling purring. He gave me appreciative licks on my hand with his rough tongue. I got up and the house was dark. Dark enough that didn’t matter if had my eyes open or closed. The house was mostly quiet. Is it ever truly quiet?

Again practicing mindfulness I take the time to just stand and listen. I can hear humming from a computer and the quiet roar of a plane flying over coming into land at the airport a few miles to our south. Is it coming from California and folks on the red-eye?

I stand in the dark hallway with my hands just touching the walls. I try balancing on my left leg, then my right leg. I wobble.  I ask my body questions. Do I tend to tip one way more than another? I seem to tip backwards mostly. When I start to tip over standing on one leg it happens quickly. My feet muscles try to hold me stable and fail. Can I do anything to make myself more stable? Bend my legs, think differently? Would this be easier if I could see and maybe focus on a point? I can’t rely on my body’s proprioception alone to remain stable in the dark. The body’s proprioception system provides informational awareness of your body in space. I definitely need to improve my balance, as well as stabilizing muscles to help me hold position.

I shake out my limbs. First my hands, then my wrists, and my arms. I swing my arms gently and feel the joints of my shoulders and elbows. Next my legs. I bend at my knees and feel how they support me. Where are my hips? I do a hip swivel and swing my entire leg back and forth. I rock my hips up and back and side to side. Watching that belly dancing show has taught me a few things.

Late afternoon now… how am I sitting? I’m slouching in an awful position at my desk. The lumbar support cushion does help, but the chair wants to lean back and takes me with it. Seems easiest to lean back into the chair this way, but maybe a reason I also hold tension in my neck and shoulders and my upper back often hurts.

Awareness is an important step in making changes.

For a practice:

  • Try a body scan and check where you hold tension. Try to tense at least one area, then relax. Note the difference in how that feels.
  • Try moving your synovial joints to notice how they function. See post  “Ride with Your Bones” for definition and examples of these joints.
  • Can you stand on one leg? What about balancing with your eyes closed?
  • If you are sitting now… then are you aligned over your spine? Are you riding the bones of your chair? What is tight in your body?
  • As a mindfulness exercise – close your eyes, try to clear your mind and just listen. What do you hear? Just sit for a couple of minutes and listen.
  • Try breathing in for a count of 4, then out for a count of 4. Can you have your mind empty and just breathe focusing on counting your breath? This is a simple meditation. Try for a count of 10. What does your mind do? Does it wander off?

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Filed under Anatomy and Physiology, Human health

Start from where you are

Before I can work on my riding skills, then I need to get my body more in shape and flexible. BUT… how do you obtain the fitness, balance and mental state to work on the skills necessary to achieve the proper principles of good riding?

I often hear how every movement and stiffness in my body will translate directly to my horse. This presents a daunting problem for my aging body with health issues. I need to find ways to optimize what I am capable of doing and not worry about matching a level others with more vigor can strive towards. Folks ride with worse problems than mine, so where there is a will then there is a way. I need to foster lowered expectations and to not fret over my inability to do what others can do. I must start from where I am. Perhaps I can do more than I imagine.

What about my horses? They are not youngsters either. Horses are prone to become sore carrying unbalanced weight on their backs. With such fears of hurting my horse in my mind by putting my stiff body on their back, then no wonder I keep fretting. I’m stalled out and life is passing us all by.

Starting from where we are and taking a next small step each day is the key to moving forward.


Filed under Riding

And they’re off…

This is my first blog. Partly an experiment. This blog will mostly be about my journey with my 2 Icelandic geldings as we work on optimizing our happiness and health. We are starting over from where we are to get out on the trails. I plan to use similar process for my horses and myself. We all need more exercise for improving flexibility, stamina, aerobic fitness, posture and core strength. Losing weight will be secondary.

As with most everyone, I have some physical health issues. My horses and myself will be working within the various limitations that life has thrown our way. * Please read Disclaimer page.

I do lots of pondering and research. I will share videos and articles and thoughts particularly related to my relationship with my horses.

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Filed under Health