When teaching motorcycle riding for the state of Hawaii, I noticed a few students having trouble on the practice range with the bike. Some tightened up and held their breath when trying to execute a tight figure-8 turn on the range. The figure-8 is a requirement to pass the riding test.
During this time, I found myself in a stressful situation on my bike and I executed a difficult escape maneuver with ease. It surprised me and then it dawned on me that practicing yoga taught me to be at ease in the midst of stress.’
That’s when I realized I could translate lessons from yoga and take them to the riding range when teaching bikers. In time, I decided to share this with more motorcycle riders. That’s how “Yoga and Leather,” yoga for bikers was born.
Bikers are good at shifting gears and they have to be.
They also love movement, so when teaching yoga to bikers I try to integrate the language of motorcycling and shifting into the yoga process.
When learning to ride and control the clutch for example, motorcyclists are taught about the “friction zone.” To shift gears and get moving, bikers must smoothly move the clutch – by hand – in coordination with their foot.
Yoga does the same thing with its warmup as yogis shift from non-movement into easy and slow postures at the start. As they warm up, they shift gears again and move their bodyweight into slightly more challenging postures. Even more than postures; however, both motorcycling and yoga are more fun and are easier to do when we learn how to relax in the midst of stress. This is what yoga for bikers is all about and it starts by working with the breath.