Class #3276

Mat for Equestrians

30 min - Class


Learn tools you can take into your riding with this Mat workout by Julie Driver. She focuses on building balance and stamina in your body which are crucial for equestrians. She also works on hip and spine dissociation as well as breath so you can use stay connected while you are with your horse.
What You'll Need: Mat

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Hi, I'm Julie Driver and today we're doing a mat class that is Pilates for equestrians. We are going to look at building some balance into your body, some stamina, and some hip and spine disassociation, which means basically being able to move your hips without moving your back, and moving your back without moving your hips. So we're gonna start with some balance. We're gonna bring our feet, our heels together, and I'd like a fist distance between the base of the big toe. Beautiful.

We're going to breathe in, and as you breathe out I want you to squeeze the heels together and lift up onto the ball of the foot. Now, think of leaving the head on the ceiling as you lower your heels without the toes lifting. And again. So we're gonna gather ourselves up to our midline and lift and balance. Breathe in and lower.

One more. We're gonna do three of everything today, unless I lose count. And up. And down. So now this time we're going to add in our arms.

We're gonna add in a little bit of load and a little bit of leverage. We're gonna lift the heels and the arms at the same time and balance. Now imagine you're a corkscrew. We're gonna pull the levers of the corkscrew down, the spine lengthens up to the ceiling and then we lower the heels. And again, we lift up.

We lift the arms and the heels at the same time breathing in. Now, pull the arms of your corkscrew down and your spine is the cork lifting to the ceiling, and then we lower the heels. Last one, and again, lift, lower the arms, and then lower the heels. Now this time we're gonna add in a squat, no arms, just a squat. So, we're going to do the same thing.

We're going to lift up onto the heels and onto the toes. Now try to keep your back as vertical as you can and bend the knees for a little squat. Am I vertical? I hope I am. (crack) Oh, that was my ankle.

And up (laughs), and lower the heels. Yay. Good. And again, we lift the heels, try to keep the spine vertical. I've got my hand on my breastbone.

If you want to do that that helps and put the other hand on the sacrum, and then as you bend the knees send it shins forward, keep lifting the heels to your sit bones. And then up, lower your heels. Last one, and we come up, the spine stays vertical. We send our shins forward and we keep lifting the heels to the sit bones. And up.

Lower the heels. And one last time, just give the knees a little plie. Good, okay. Now, what I'd like you to do is walk forward to the ends of your mats. We're going to cross your right leg over your left leg.

Fold your arms. Please don't fall over, but as you exhale you're gonna stick your buts out and sit on the mat with grace and control. And I just have to go that far. (laughs) It's a real cheat. We're gonna take your hands out behind you.

And have your hands wherever's comfortable. I don't mind which way round you choose to have them. We're going to now do some work to help just open out the hip. So bring your heels to hip width. Make sure you're not leaning into your arms as if you're watching television.

We're opposing the mat and lifting out of the heels of the hands and of the chest. Now you're going to start to draw the legs in towards you, keeping the spine lifted. Turn the legs so the knees come together, straighten the legs. Turn out and bend. Turn in and straighten.

And last one, as we're doing three because three is the magic number. And in. So now we reverse. So again, keep pressing the mat away as you straighten your hands. Straighten your hands, straighten your legs, turn the knees in and bend.

Turn out and straighten. So all this time we're trying to keep the spine still while we move the legs. That's our hip disassociation. And straighten. Now this time we're gonna leave the legs straight and we're going to flex the feet, and point the feet.

And flex. Think of pressing the heel away and try and get some fresh air between the toes. Point the feet, and again flex. Really spread the toes wide, and then point the feet for the last time. We're gonna leave them pointed and we're gonna circle one, two, three, and reverse.

One, two, three. Good. Now, bring the legs together, so now our legs are in the same position we were in standing. We're going to think of that same connection with our midline, we're gonna bring the arms up, you're going to breathe in and as you exhale, I want you to roll with control down to the mat. All the way.

Bring the hands to your sides. We're going to bend the knees, and part the feet to hip width. So we're going to do another hip and thigh disassociation exercise. And this is to really give us the ability that when we're riding and we're moving our legs our spine doesn't really have to get involved. So the first thing you're going to do is place the heel of your hands on your hips so you can feel if you start to wiggle.

Breathe in, and as you breathe out, lift the left leg into the air. Breathe in, and then lower the left leg. If you have shifted in your pelvis do any rearranging you need to do before you breathe out and lift the other leg. Don't allow yourself to continue getting more and more twisted through the spine. Breathing out to lower.

Breathe in. So use the out breath to lift, hold it for an in breath, and then the out breath lowers. So as you're lifting your right leg think of it being the left leg that is being trained. It is the left that's stabilizing you. And now as we lift our left leg, it's the right leg that is helping to stabilize the body.

And down. Good. So now we're going to actually start to move the spine. We're gonna breathe in, huh, and as you breathe out, we're going to think of lifting the pelvis away from the mat. So in this exercise we're really opening the front of the hip and we're using the muscles at the back of the leg to stretch the hip.

We're going to breathe in, and then as you exhale start to roll down. Think of it almost rolling down from the back of your throat. So you're really sequentially moving your spine. Breathe in. And again, try not to force the spine into the mat.

Think of the lower body lifting to the ceiling. Breathe in. And then as you exhale, again, really think of the opposition. The head is lengthening to the wall behind you, the spine, the lower body, is lengthening to the wall in front of you. We're gonna do one more.

Nice. So, when everybody has returned to the mat, I'd like you to just take your hands out to the side palms facing down. Good. So in this position here, just take a moment to think of any spaces or gaps there are under your spine. And take a really good out breath.

One of the most important things that as riders we need to do is we really need to make sure we utilize the breath. So we need to breath in, and breath out, and feel the back of the ribcage connect to the mat. Good. Now, bring your feet and knees together. They need to meet in the middle of your spine.

We're going to take some rotation. So we're going to breath in to prepare. As you exhale I want you to take your legs to the right. Keep squeezing the knees together, as you start to rotate the spine to the right. Keep the gaze directly above you.

Breathe in, and as you exhale, come back through the center. And again, this time to the left. So as you exhale, the arms are out to the side, keep pressing the arms away from each other length and fingertip away from fingertip. Breathe in, and breath out to come back to the center. And again.

This time to the right. Think of the legs, they're moving as if they're just one. There shouldn't be any slipping between left and right leg. Good. And again.

And back. One more each side. And again, we can find that sense of opposition through the movement, although the spine is turning in the lower body, think of the upper body lengthening away, even as you return to that neutral position. It's quite tempting to just flop the body back. Really make sure you articulate each bone.

Good. And your last one should be to your left. Okay, so when you're finished, come back. Now, in this position we're going to bring the hands back to your sides, straighten the legs again and bring the heels together. So again we're in that position we had standing up.

We're going to inhale to bring the arms over the head. So in this position we're making sure that the ribcage doesn't arch away from the mat. Bring your arms forward, when you can see the hands, we're gonna lift the head and we're gonna roll up with grace and elegance to come forward over our legs. Breathe in, and then as you exhale, roll back. When the head has connected to the mat the arms go over the head.

Breathe in. Bring the arms forward, and roll up. Breathe, and roll back. We're gonna do one more, taking the arms over the head. Bring the arms forward, when you see the hands the head lifts and we come up and over.

So this time we're gonna return the spine to the mat, and the hands will come to your sides. I want you to breathe in, and as you exhale you're going to come up just to a curled up position. Lift the hands off the mat but keep the legs down and we're going to do our 100 here. We're going to breathe in two, three, four, five, and out, and in. Trying not to bounce the spine.

Now we're gonna add in a little bit of assymetry. As you breathe in you're going to lift your left leg. Two, three, four, five, lower, two, three, four, five. Right, and lower. And left, and lower.

And lift, and lower. And lift, last time. And lower. And last time with the right. And lower.

Good. Rest the head down, breathe in, and now as we breathe out we're going to roll over onto our sides and you're gonna come all the way over onto your tummies. So if you have your heads facing in the middle, ya, that's it. So, the position that I would like you to assume is fingertips touching each other, and your forehead is resting on your fingertips. Your legs are hip width apart and we're going to do a few little exercises in this position.

Our first one is spine extension. So we need this. Modern day life, phones, computers - we tend to curve our upper spines forward. This is to build some stamina into the upper back, not just for riding but for everyday life. We're gonna breathe in, and as you exhale you're going to lift the head off the hands and lift the spine bone by bone just until the lower ribs are still on the mat.

Breathe in to lower. And again, two more. We're keeping it quite small and conservative to start with. And then lower. And one more.

And lower. Now this time, the head stays down. We're going to remember which is our left leg and as you breathe out you're going to lift your left leg off the mat. Inhale to lower. So prone leg lifts.

As you exhale, lift the right leg, and lower. And left, and lower. So again, we're working the hip extension. We're using the muscles at the back of the leg to lengthen and open the front of the hip. One more on each leg.

Now, this time, as you exhale, I would like you to lift both legs, and lower. So what I'm looking for here is that when you lift both legs we've added in a little bit of load to make sure that the lower back doesn't move. We're looking to make sure the movement really happens in that ball and socket joint, not in your spine, so we have some spine stability. And again. Beautiful.

So now our challenge, we're going to keep the hands glued to your forehead, you're going to breathe in, and as you exhale you're going to lift the head and the hands, and then both legs. And we're going to hold this position for a minute. And you're gonna breathe. So a minute equates to about ten breaths so you could almost call it the reverse 100. But what this is doing, this is building stamina into the muscles in the back of the body.

And the beautiful thing if you're watching this is what you can see begin to happen is that as they hold their extension and breathe, they start to swan dive. We get these beautiful little baby swan dives happening. Yay. Good. So this is a really good way of introducing swan dive as well.

We're gonna do two more in breaths. The in breath lifts the spine up and as we exhale we get this nice rock forward. Last one, breathe in. And then breathe out. Rest the body down and go into your rest position, child's pose, whichever name you personally prefer and just stretch your back in the opposite shape.

Beautiful. So take one more breath in this position. Think of really inflating the back of the ribs, and then as you breathe out just start to rebuild the spine to come to sit up to vertical spine. Good. Now, we are going to come into a side plank position.

So, what we're looking for with side plank is I want you to be on your elbow today. So this is to build up the strength down the side of the body. And I'd like your legs in line with your hips so the knees are bent so we're using a shorter lever. Okay. So, the first thing you're gonna do is your going to just lean into your elbow.

Again, it's like that watching t.v. moment. And then make sure that you really press the mat away and you oppose the mat. We're going to breathe in, and as you breathe out lift the hips off the mat and bring your top arm over your head to balance. Breathe in, and then as you exhale we're gonna lower the body, your bottom kisses the mat and then it's gonna lift again. Good.

And down. One more. And up, press the floor away to lift the hips, then keep pressing the floor away to lower the hips. Beautiful. Now, bend the knees in, we're gonna come up to mermaid.

So, I don't mind how you personally choose to sit, you can stack the knees, you can zed sit, whatever is most comfortable for you and your body and your knees. So from here we're gonna imagine we're a little mermaid on a rock. We're holding our ankles and we're going to bring our free arm up and over our head. Find your ear. Now, breathe in and as you exhale I want you to lift your elbow to the ceiling.

Lift your elbow away from your armpit, armpit away from your hip. Breathe in, and as you exhale you come back up, reach the arm out to the mat, and then lift up again. Arm comes up, we find our ear, and we side stretch. Breathe in. As you breathe in really inflate that rib, and then come back up.

Fingertips touch the mat and for the last time we're going to bring the arm up, and reach up to the ceiling and over. And up. Now, from here we're gonna place this hand back on the mat. We're going to lower the arm to our elbow. Bring your free arm up to the ceiling and look at your hand.

Reach to the ceiling and really make sure you're lifted off your hips, lifted off your hand. We're gonna bring this arm forward and we're gonna thread it through and underneath and I want you to look back behind you for some upper body rotation. Bring the arm back through, and again we reach to the ceiling. Look at the hand. The hand comes down and it threads through and we look behind us.

And come back up, and for the last time we reach up, and we bring the hand through, and I look through my hand, and up. Now, place the left hand, sorry, left hand on the mat, right hand on the mat so that you can simply turn over to four point kneeling. So this is a really good position for us to practice our scapula stability for our riding. So from here I want you to really feel that you've planted the hands down and you are pressing the floor away. Feel that your ribcage is flush against your shoulder blades, there's no gap between them.

We're going to breathe in, and as you exhale were going to do our cat stretch. So imagine you're got a pair of lamps on your bottom, like a pair of headlamps, you've got bottom lamps, and as you exhale you're going to shine those bottom lamps down the wall, across the skirting board, over the back of the heels until they're pointing at your knees and let the upper body join in. Breathe in, and as you exhale we're going to reverse that movement. You're focus is what's happening in your upper body. Keep the shoulder blades and the rib cage connected.

Breathe in. And again, as you exhale, curl the tailbone underneath, allow the shoulder blades to protract as you curve your spine. And uncurl. Last one. And back.

So keep the upper body pressed away from the mat. And now to change position we're going to transition back onto our other side. Make sure you do the other side so we create symmetry. And we're going to go for our side plank. So again we are down on our elbow, bring the legs back in line with the hips.

So we want the legs stacked over each other. The hand is resting on the thigh. We're going to breathe in, and as you exhale, we're going to lift the hips, bring the hand over your head, breathe in, and as you breathe out we're gonna lower hips to the mat, they kiss the mat, and we lift again. And up and over. And down.

Last one. We're going to come up. Press the floor away, find the opposition in the movement as you lift the hips. And down. Press yourself up from the mat to come up for mermaid.

Three beautiful mermaids. We're going to bring our free hand up and over and it finds our ear. Breathe in and reach up and over, stretching the side of the body. And up. Reach the hand out, the fingertips touch the mat, and we come back up and over again.

And reach up to the ceiling, elbow away from armpit, armpit away from hip. And up. And last time. And we go up. Breathe into that rib, really think of expanding the ribcage.

And then up. This time the hand is going to touch the mat and it's going to land there. We're going to bend our elbows. If you need to walk your hand away to make yourself more secure. And now from here reach your free hand up to the ceiling.

Look at the hand. Press the mat away as we bring the hand through and under and thread it through for a little rotation. Turn the head and look behind you. Reach the arm up to the ceiling and again we're gonna turn the head and look. Bring the arm through, thread it through, and up to the ceiling.

And one more, we're gonna thread it through. And last time we're gonna reach up, press the floor away and reach the ceiling. So this time we're gonna transition the same way we did before to cat. We're gonna put this free hand down on the mat, turn the other one out, and come to kneeling. So we're four point kneeling again.

So this time we are going to increase the leverage of the exercise, with our leg pull. So from here just do a few little protractions and retractions of the shoulder blade. So you can really feel where that shoulder stability is. The last thing we want with our planks is our bodies hanging into our shoulder girdles so keep the ribcage snug against the inside of the shoulder blades. From here, you're going to take the left leg behind you.

Now, really think of the diagonal we have between our right hand and our left leg. Press the floor away to free up the right leg to come behind you. Now, we're in our position, from here the left leg lifts and we're going to dorsi flex, planter flex, place the foot down. Right leg points, flex, point, and down. Good.

And again. Good. Beautiful. And down. And switch.

Make sure you're not locking the elbows out. If we're locking the elbows out we're using our joints rather than our muscles. Good. And last ones. Good.

When you've finished, walk the knees back in underneath you. Beautiful. And sit back again into rest position. Good. If you need to give the hands a little breather, then do that.

Good. Breathe. How's everybody doing? Good. Now, yay (laughs).

That's how my clients usually are. Now, I mean I'm talking about the horses of course, not the humans (laughs). (students laughing) Now we're gonna slowly rebuild our spines. Good. Okay, so turn and face in.

So if you can just move to the end of your mat. So Georgie and Leslie, you're gonna turn in. And we are going to bring our feet together for seal. So I love seal for my riders cause it really helps to open the hips. It's a great hip opener.

And we're also going to tag on a little bit of balance at the end as well. So if you think of when you place your hands together you really make sure your little fingers are touching. You wouldn't put your palms together and have your little fingers open. We're gonna make sure we get our little toes touching. So, we're going to place the hands through the legs.

Okay, and we're really going to really think of opening the hips. Now, breathe in, I'm not going to do this because I am frightened of the height (laughs). You're going to breathe in and roll back, and then exhale to come forward. And up. Good.

One more. Good. And up. And I lied. One more.

I told you I can't count (laughs). Now, you are going to cross your ankles, hold your ankles like you're a little wishbone. Good. Now, from here, you're going to do the same thing but with holding the ankles, but then what I want you to do is to plant your feet and stand up. Okay.

So you're going to roll and then come up and use the feet to stand up. Yup. Awesome (clapping). Awesome. There you go.

Awesome. Okay, so we're back where we started. Let's bring our heels together. And let's see if we feel our balance is improved, if our sense of where we are in space vertically has improved when we do our plies. So we're going to breathe in, and as you exhale you're going to lift.

See if your balance feels any clearer, any cleaner, and then lower the heels. Bend the knees for a little plie, and up again, and again, two more, lift. So see if you feel any more balance through the upper body. Bend the knees and lift. Now your final challenge.

You're going to lift, lift the arms. Now imagine you're diving into that beautiful ocean outside. We're going to nod the head, keep the heels lifted as you roll down. You're gonna roll all the way down to touch the floor. Go.

Nice. Keep the heels lifted, and then you're gonna roll all the way back up, holding the balance as you come back up. The heels need to go down, that's fine. We're gonna come all the way up, hold the balance, make sure you don't stick the ribs out. Stay in your vertical spine.

Lower the heels, think of those corkscrew arms. We're gonna lower the arms. We're gonna bring the hands in front of us. Thank you for watching. I hope you've enjoyed it.

On our next class we are going to continue along the same themes. We're going to add in some unstable surfaces with a ball, we're going to add in some resistance bands, and we're going to just make sure that all the things we've learnt today we can add on and take into our riding.


2 people like this.
I hope to see more like these! I just participated in a Pilates for dressage clinic and this is just fabulous for all types of riding. Thank you
Julie Driver
1 person likes this.
Thank you Mel W This is my passion and I really want to help both horse and rider develop their connections.
5 people like this.
Beautiful class, loved the deliberate and thoughtful pace, great for realigning non-riders too. Thank you!
10 people like this.
More pilates for equestrian videos please!!! :)
6 people like this.
More pilates for equestrians!
2 people like this.
Loved this Julie. Great for non riders too 💕
2 people like this.
Thank you! Loved the side plank version of threading the needle!
1 person likes this.
Lovely thanks Julie Driver. I hope you don't mind, will be stealing for teaching my own classes for riders :)
Julie Driver
Hi Emma Feel free to share! That's the whole point of this amazing website!
1 person likes this.
Really enjoyed this, thank you Julie :)
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