A friend introduced me to yoga in 2009 (after inviting me each week for 3 months, I reluctantly said yes). It has become one of life’s most beautiful surprises. In 2015, I earned my certification to become a teacher. It has impacted my life beyond words, but I’ll do my best to explain it. I have learned things through yoga that wouldn’t have reached me any other way. I have more peace in my life and I am stronger than I ever thought I could be.
When I was learning how to ride, I immediately began to identify similarities between Motocross and yoga.
These are some of the greatest things yoga has taught me and how I feel like they relate to Motocross:
- Set an Intention: Before we begin to practice yoga, we get into a comfortable seat, close our eyes and set an intention. I usually choose a one-word mantra (example: patience, strength, peace or presence). As my mind wanders throughout practice, I come back to this word. With Motocross, ask yourself these questions—Why did I come to the track today? Why do I ride? Bring awareness to the answer and focus on that intention.
- Let It Go: A yoga teacher once had us lay down on our mats, rest flat on our backs in the dark room with our eyes closed and imagine a web browser open with many different tabs (the tabs represented things like: work, relationships, to-do lists, stressors, etcetera). She then asked us to slowly close each tab so that we were left with a clean slate. When you show up to the track, let everything else go. Here are some other ways to help clear your mind:
- Focus on the positive things in your life
- Let go of events or things that overwhelm you or stress you out
- Make changes to your lifestyle that improve your mental health
- Live a balanced life
- Leave the past where it belongs, stay present and don’t stress over the stories your mind creates
- Believe in your potential with every fiber of your being
- Focus on the Breath: This is our single greatest ally when the struggle bus shows up. In yoga, we practice ujjayi breathing, which first fills the lower belly, rises to the lower rib cage and finally moves into the upper chest and throat. You constrict the back of your throat while your mouth is closed. Your breath sounds like the ocean. The purpose of focusing on the breath is to remain calm and present. When the monkey mind begins to chatter and distract, you can easily come back to your breath and regain focus. On the track, focusing on your breath will help you remain calm, ride without distraction and plan your next move.
- Bring Awareness to Your Body: In yoga, movement is connected to the breath. Inhale to expand, exhale to contract. The breath helps us to focus on each movement, so we can move intentionally. Suddenly you begin to think about things like rotating your inner thighs backwards in downward-facing dog. When you’re riding, your bike is an extension of your body. Your body is the gateway between your mind and your bike. Essentially you become one with your bike. There must be a clear focus on the mind-body connection. Intentional and controlled movement is key.
- The Only Thing Constant is Change: Sometimes I show up to yoga stiff and stressed out and overwhelmed. Other times I come in beaming with joy ready to conquer the world. Sometimes the practice matches the mood and sometimes it doesn’t, for better or worse. On the track, there are good days and bad days. One day you might hit that double jump and one another you may crash, break a bone, dislocate something or worse. You’re old enough to know that life isn’t always rainbows and sunshine. But, if you’re doing something you love that fills your soul, you gotta take it all.
- Dig deep. Yoga teaches us a lot about ourselves. I think most of these easily translate to Motocross. Like, how do I feel about myself today? What does my body feel like today? Am I able to focus on my intention or let something get in the way? How can I find peace and inspiration amidst a lack of confidence, sickness, a setback, other distraction or straight up bad day? We have to find a way to kick negative self-talk and the stories our minds create to the curb and focus more on what we can and will do than what we can’t or can’t yet do.
- Thank Your Lucky Stars: Give thanks for a healthy body and a sound mind which allow you to practice yoga or ride a dirt bike. Whether we have a good day or a bad day, we are blessed. We get to show up and do what we love.
I believe that adding yoga to your Motocross training program would help to maximize your potential as a rider.
Christian Craig recently posted this caption with a photo on Instagram (of him fully dressed in moto gear giving his daughter, who was standing in the bed of a truck, a kiss): “Average is a choice. Greatness is a choice. There is no magic. Only decisions.”
It’s a mental game, y’all. Of course experience matters and training matters. But, your body isn’t the only thing you need to condition. Get yo mind right.
I’ll leave you with this:
The Goal of Yoga
The yoga pose is not the goal.
Becoming flexible is not the goal. Standing on your hands is not the goal.
The goal is to create space where you were once stuck. To unveil the layers of protection you’ve built around your heart. To appreciate your body and become aware of the mind and the noise it creates. To make peace with who you are.
The goal is to love, well… You.
From: Rachel Brathen