INTERVIEW WITH


Helena Starkenberg

Photocredit: joannacapturedbyfriday

    Tell us a little bit about yourself

    I grew up in Järfälla, just outside of Stockholm. I have always had a great interest in sports, exercise and training, and I practiced many sports during my childhood. For as long as I can remember though, horses were my main interest. I also love water sports (sailing, stand up paddle boarding, windurfing etc) and how relaxed the water makes me feel. The attraction to water is the reason I now live with my partner at Dalarö in the southern archipelago of Stockholm. There I have established a health and wellbeing company focusing on yoga and personal training on water and on land.

    What made you fall in love with the equestrian sport and for how long have you been riding?

    I have had an interest in horses for as long as I can remember. I nagged my parents about riding for a long time before I finally started at a riding school when I was 9 years old. I was hooked and have basically been riding ever since, either at a riding school or as a co-rider – and sometimes combining both. That combination has been great for me. I find it not only fun but developmental to ride many different types of horses. I like to really get to know a horse. I can do that in a completely different way as a co-rider as I have more time to build a relationship with the horse.

     

    You run a company that focus on developing riders, mainly through yoga and training. Tell us more!

    I started yoga to complement my other training, as well as to learn how to breathe, calm myself and to be more present. I began to feel the positive effects of yoga relatively quickly and from there I attended yoga teacher training to learn more. I began to explore further and was certified in several different types of yoga as it targets slightly different functions and they often complement each other. How riders can benefit from yoga is especially close to my heart. Yoga and riding really is a great combination. There are so many aspects of yoga which can make a positive impact for the rider. I have felt it in my own riding as well as seen the change in other riders. I am also a licensed personal trainer and in addition specialised in medical training as well as educated in nutrition and mindfulness. The combination of expertise within yoga, training, nutrition, medical training and mindfulness enables me to take the complete perspective of the physical and mental training for my clients. My driving force is to inspire, spread this knowledge and to support even more riders to find simple and time-efficient ways to take care of themselves with both yoga and other training in busy everyday life. So I provide personal training, workshops, classes, lectures and other activities for riders. This part of my business aimed at riders has gradually received more attention and is rapidly growing. Based on the experiences I have provided I have developed several yoga and training classes for different purposes and needs, but mostly I work by customizing individual plans based on specific needs and goals.

    Photocredit: joannacapturedbyfriday

    How do you think yoga and riding complement each other, and how can you develop as a rider by practicing yoga?

    Yoga supports riders in so many ways! It gives an increased body awareness, which helps in connecting with our own body as well as the horse's movements and it gives a better and more intuitive feeling when riding. It has a positive impact on your ability to influence the horse and improves contact, communication and interaction with the horse. Physically, you can use yoga to promote mobility, stability, balance, symmetry and strength (all based on individual needs) so that you become more flexible and balanced on the horse. You become more relaxed in your body, get deeper into the saddle and get an improved more upright posture. Yoga is also a great tool for mental training and can help with becoming more present, focused and concentrated, as well as less stressed, for example when competing. It improves breathing capacity and helps to oxygenate the body better during exercise which increases endurance. Deeper breathing also helps you become more relaxed and again sits you more centered in the saddle which will also influence the relaxation of the horse. In addition, yoga promotes the recovery in between riding and other training.

     

    Do you have any tips for the riders who want to try incorporating yoga into their training?

    -I always recommend making it as simple as possible in order to reduce the barrier to get started! And to incorporate it as a routine in our everyday life. It is difficult to change a behaviour or a routine and if we set goals that are too ambitious, we might quit before we even got started.


    -There are so many different types of yoga today. Try out the ones you are curious about in order to find out which one or ones that you like to practice and that suits your needs.


    -Start small scale and choose the exercises that you need the most. We are all individuals and have individual needs which determines what we would benefit the most from to complement our riding. If you are mobile in your joints, you should work on strengthening your stability. If your mobility is limiting your movement pattern, regular mobility training often gives good results. With the help of yoga and other training we can also work on symmetry. When it comes to symmetry also awareness of how we use our body in everyday life has a great impact. If you need help to determine your specific needs and what exercises to prioritize, schedule an appointment with a personal trainer who can create a training plan for you.


    -Most of us have limited time and it is not always easy to add a new routine into our busy life. But it is not those who train the most who achieve the best results, it’s those who train smarter. Be creative about where and when to get the training done! Often it can be enough to put in two to three exercises that will benefit you the most. Fit it in when, where and how it best suits your everyday life (indoors or outdoors, at home, at the gym, at work, at lunch, when you waiting for your coffee or the bus, in the stable before or after the ride, in the bed in the morning or evening, in the shower, in front of the TV etc). It doesn’t have to take more than five to ten minutes. You don't have to work long and hard to get results, just a few minutes a day rather than one hour once or twice a week.

    Photocredit: joannacapturedbyfriday

    What has the equestrian sport meant to you?

    Riding has meant so much to me on so many different levels! It's a big part of my life. The stable has always been like an oasis for me. I feel calm when I walk into a stable, when I feel the scent of the horses and hear the horses chewing their hay. When I ride and care for horses, the horse and the surrounding is the only thing I can focus on. It is such a great way to clear the brain and to be completely present. I love the contact and relationship with the horses, which is almost more important to me than the riding itself. In addition to all this, the riding gives so much more; I get out, get fresh air, relaxation, exercise when working in the stable and training through the riding all at the same time.

    We learn so much about ourselves because the horse is quick to read us, and often it directly reflects our state of mind or behaviour. I also like the social part of getting to know like-minded people and doing fun and developing things together and with the horses. 

    Photocredit: joannacapturedbyfriday

    NOR-ATELIER

    About Us

    Our ambition is to create a more free thinking about the equestrian sport, and to let loose on old traditions. Both regarding attitude and stereotypes about how you should act and dress. Our company is built by women, for women.

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