Danica Patrick has found a way to bring Zen into “the zone” — with yoga.
Patrick participated in a private session at Renew Yoga in Daytona Beach prior to Wednesday’s Sprint Cup practice sessions at Daytona International Speedway.
Patrick, who qualified 29th for the Daytona 500 and will start 14th in the second Can-Am Duel on Thursday, says being able to focus and being able to breathe properly helps her tune out distractions on the track.
Staying calm and focused inside the car
In her most tense moments in competition, the driver of the No. 10 Nature’s Bakery the driver has learned to incorporate the breathing techniques from her practice into the cockpit.
“Breath is the one thing I really do use from yoga in the race car,” Patrick told Motorsport.com. “When things get tense, it’s in through the nose and out through the mouth. It’s longer breaths and that inevitably calms your heart rate down and calms you down. So, I by all means use breath in the car which is something that I learned in yoga.
“I started doing yoga way, way, way back when I was in lived in England. I was probably about 19 years old when I first started — and I’m pretty sure Madonna was responsible for the inspiration, back when it became real cool. That’s how long it goes back.”
Patrick is starting her seventh season in NASCAR. In 2013, she began dating fellow Sprint Cup rookie Ricky Stenhouse Jr. But the couple that races — and lives together — does not do yoga together.
“Ricky has done one class with me,” Patrick said. “I think it was at the ESPYs last year. I signed up for an online program that has a bunch of classes. We did one on there. But he just couldn't get over the whole Zen chat that they have during the classes. So, it’s just not for him.
“But he came into my woman cave a couple months ago and did about five minutes of stretching before he said, ‘OK, I’m done. I’m bored.’ So baby steps.”
Bringing the boss around
Prior to Tony Stewart’s accident on a sand rail last month where he suffered a burst fracture of his L1 vertebra, Patrick watched a healthy transformation of sorts from her co-owner and teammate in anticipation of his final season in NASCAR. Stewart was working out again and had structured his diet accordingly.
Patrick believes Stewart’s recovery time will be expedited due his lifestyle changes he made before the mishap.
“Honestly, I feel he’s in great spirits,” Patrick said. “I heard from him before the Sprint Unlimited telling me ‘good luck’ and asked him how he was doing. He's in a great mood and I don’t know, maybe some of that came from all the endorphins he was producing when he was working out.
“He had done some yoga and pilates and all kinds of different things, so good for him. He was really on a great track and I imagine that if he has a great recovery and keeps his attitude up and stays positive with it all it probably stems from getting healthier before it all happened. I can only hope that he comes back 100 percent and as healthy as possible.”