If It Was Easy It Wouldn’t Be Worth It: A Mindfulness Practice

Laura Crump Anderson is an Equestrian Fitness Specialist at InForm Fitness Leesburg. She is certified as a personal trainer by the American College of Sports Medicine and specializes in working with riders of all ages and disciplines. She holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Kinesiology with a concentration in Exercise Science, is a Certified Personal Trainer with the American College of Sports Medicine, and has evented through Training level. Read more of her EN fitness columns here

The author bombing a distance.

Sometimes I honestly cannot conceive how horse people do it.

The hours that are demanded of us whether you are a professional or an amateur.

The fleeting pinnacles of highs that make you feel like someone destined to be on horseback.

Then, all too quickly, the overwhelming lows that so hastily can come on but takes months to pass, which throw you in a depression so deep that you probably would not get out of bed if there wasn’t a four-legged creature that literally depends on you.

Add to it heat, cold, expense, injuries, surgeries, deaths, and the lack of understanding from people that we are closest to. Sporadically I am amazed that I am allowed to walk the streets as ‘horse crazy’ as I am.

Even as an adult I still occasionally wish that I had picked a different sport to dedicate my life to. Do divers deal with the overwhelming mental game that is riding? Or do soccer players at the age of 30-something still dream of making a team? This is where my yoga practice has come in … it is so much more than stretching for me. It fills a gap in my life that never realized was missing. I am learning that I am enough just the way that I am.

Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present. It took me a long time to realize it, but it is one of the reasons I love riding. Even if just for a moment during a 45-minute ride my monkey brain turns off and I feel fully present in the moment.

Three Mindfulness Hacks

1. Set a timer for five minutes. Close your eyes and focus on your breath. Each time you find yourself distracted (it will happen and more than you might think) acknowledge the thought or sound and return to focusing on your breath. Work up to doing this for 10 minutes every day. You will be amazed at the time warp you witness.

2. Grab a glass of water and notice every single detail you can about the glass or bottle. Note every single detail as you drink the water, feel, temperature, can you feel it hit your stomach? Do not do anything else until you have finished with it.

3. Take a yoga class. Yoga is so much more than the postures you sit-in — it is actually an eight part process of self- awareness. Just like in riding it is so important to find the right teacher for you. If you do not like one class but are not sure why, go try another!

Mindfulness is a practice and the more you do it the better you will get at it. Like any practice consistency is a key to success. Just because it is simple doesn’t mean it is easy, but if it was easy would it be worth it?

Learn more about mindfulness and nutrition for the rider in the heart of Area II at Beverly Equestrian (The Plains, Virginia) during the Rider Wellness Series. The next session takes place Thursday, July 25th 2019 at 6 p.m. Click here to learn more and purchase your ticket.