When it comes to Motocross and Supercross it goes without say that it’s a fairly unique sport. There’s nothing quite like it in the world and it’s physical demand can’t even be replicated. The mantra, “ Nothing beats seat time” rings true in every rider’s ear as we try to condition ourselves in gyms across the world. Often times training for this sport off the bike requires highly certified trainers, specialized equipment, and rigorous routines. Despite this, there is one physical practice that has seen a rise in popularity due to it’s direct benefit to racers in many disciplines. It promotes flexibility, cardio vascular health, muscle strength, and much more. Even the most high profile trainers are implementing this into their programs to help their athletes. What practice are we talking about? Well, it’s one that you might not have considered. The practice is Yoga. Trainers like the legendary former racer Ryan “Ryno” Hughes boast about it’s unique mental and physical benefits and how elite riders everywhere can elevate their game even further by practicing yoga. We wanted to fully understand the true benefits of Yoga and it's direct application to Motocross and Supercross so we reached out to Nicole Nathan, a highly experienced Yoga practitioner who has ties to the sport. Nicole gave us her two cents on the background of yoga and how even the everyday rider can use it to improve their health and riding...
Hey Nicole! Give us a bit of your background in the sport and within the yoga world?
I began teaching group fitness in college and decided to make Health and Fitness Promotion my career. I opened a fitness studio in my hometown and really wanted to learn about yoga as part of my teaching repertoire. I absolutely fell in love with it and yoga has now become my central focus. Motocross has not always been in my life, either. 15 years ago I started dating Chas Kadlec who rode bikes and raced in the summers and I would be hauling all over with him to races. I admit at first I wasn't a huge fan, but over time I really started to admire racers and what they were doing. When I started practicing yoga, I'd be doing poses back behind the trailer on race weekends so I had something to do other than wash gear and spectate. A couple years ago, Chas started Triggr Racing and it became an even bigger part of our lives, by default I became a Motocross/Supercross super-fan and now I've gotten to take my yoga practice all over the united states. I'm that weird gal doing handstands in the pits. :)
Explain the main idea behind yoga and some of the principles?
The word yoga can be translated as "to yoke" or "to unite" and is typically explained as a union or a method of discipline. The main principals integrate 5,000-year-old Vedic wisdom with modern interpretations, creating a philosophical road map for daily yoga practice to help unite body, mind, and spirit. These ancient principals consist of what are called the eight limbs of yoga: the yamas (restraints), niyamas (observances), asana (postures), pranayama (breathing), pratyahara (withdrawal of senses), dharana (concentration), dhyani (meditation), and samadhi (absorption). Most people today who are practicing yoga are engaged in the third limb - asana. It's a physical program consisting of postures and poses designed to purify and strengthen the body while creating better stamina and flexibility.
How is it different from other forms of fitness work?
Some people see yoga and physical fitness as very different things. The definition of 'exercise' is "bodily exertion for the sake of developing and maintaining physical fitness." Traditionally, physical fitness, although maybe a welcome by-product of the yoga practice, was not the purpose of yoga to begin with. Yoga was done, traditionally, for enlightenment. Nowadays, with all the hybrid forms of yoga like yoga sculpt and cycle yoga it's hard not to become confused as to why yoga is not considered 'exercise'. To me, it just depends on what kind of yoga you are doing. From my perspective, yoga and exercise are close cousins, but they didn't really know it at first.
What sort of benefits does it have on the body?
What I love most about yoga is the relationship you build with your body and your mental strength. Almost all forms for exercise are aimed at building muscle and improving overall fitness, but yoga does that and helps you develop an inward awareness. Many people see yoga as beneficial for flexibility and stress relief only, but yoga also increases cardiorespiratory fitness, circulation, purification of organs and blood, improved musculoskeletal strength and injury prevention. That's a biggie! Yoga trains you to be more aware of your body; it slows us down and helps remind us to take care of ourselves.
How can Motocross and Supercross riders benefit from yoga?
I'll answer your question with a question - how can riders NOT benefit from yoga!? haha I truly believe all people can benefit from some form or yoga or another. Profesional Motocross and Supercross riders are some of the most elite athletes in the world and yet even your weekend-warrior amateurs are in need of some physical training to compete. The demands of riding a dirt bike are limitless and it requires stamina, coordination, balance, alertness, and serious strength to push a 250 pound metal mule around. Because we know yoga can do all these amazing things to help improve our body's physical and mental systems, riders of all levels should be capitalizing! The main ways I believe someone can benefit, specifically riders, are injury prevention, core strength, balance, muscular endurance and focus/mental awareness.
What was it like for you working with a pro rider in 2017?
Experiencing Motocross and Supercross from behind the scenes the last few seasons really gave me a new perspective and appreciation for these athletes. Especially a guy like Henry Miller who is so dedicated physically, emotionally and mentally to his passion. He trains, eats, thinks, communicates like the elite athlete he is. Being around that definitely made me look at my own career and my personal growth differently in the sense that - what we do on a daily basis matters to getting us closer toward self-mastery. Whatever it is, if you find balance and are dedicated to your training/learning/growing..... then it’s all possible!
Were you able to help him with fitness or flexibility with yoga?
Truthfully it was never a formal arrangement, I think Yoga was just happening naturally wherever we were together. Like I said, I was doing poses all over the pits so it was just there. Henry already knew quite a bit of yoga and practiced regularly at Clubmx even before we met. Generally, we’d be hanging around in the camper, hotel room or wherever just stretching together or I’d offer to help him loosen up the way he felt he needed to before a race. I’m pretty sure I was doling out some Thai Yoga bodywork to all the Triggr racing crew at some point.
Do you think we will see yoga having a bigger presence in the sport?
Without a doubt! I know trainers like Ryan Hughes and Roman Brown are big believers in utilizing yoga for training motocross/supercross. Yoga already has a presence in the elite sports and fitness world and I feel it will continue to make it's way into the mainstream.
What are some basic yoga routines or poses that could help or benefit the everyday rider?
Do you plan to get more involved within the sport?
I would be stoked to be more involved with it! Dirt bikes are such a huge part of our world and yoga has offered me so many amazing and fun opportunities both personally and professionally. Our hope is to "keep an iron in the fire" somehow and see where it takes us. I would love to see myself offering yoga lessons to racers, mechanics, race wives/girlfriends and their kiddos. I think we could have our own little ''yoga party in the pits'' and that would rock my world!
Be sure to check out all of the cool things that Nicole is up to in the Yoga and Motocross/Supercross world by following her on social media and checking out her website. For more informative and unique stories stay tuned to The Collective Experience.
Website - haywardfitfans.webs.com