Danica Patrick talks yoga

NASCAR driver Danica Patrick answers five questions in forearm balance pose.
By
NASCAR driver Danica Patrick answers five questions in forearm balance pose.
By

Theoden Janes

Danica Patrick takes us behind the scenes of her Instagram

By Théoden Janes

tjanes@charlotteobserver

September 12, 2016 10:35 AM

There’s the Danica Patrick we know from the race track – the driver of Stewart-Haas Racing’s No. 10 Chevrolet, the one who just finished her 2016 season at 24th out of 58 in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series standings.

And then there’s the Danica Patrick we see in this video:

That’d be the fun-loving, free-wheeling young woman who likes to do yoga and arts and crafts, who is happy when she’s cooking (and when she’s eating bars made by Nature’s Bakery, her primary sponsor), and who just generally speaking seems to always be up for a challenge.

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We went a whole lot deeper on the themes and topics broached by the video during a recent phone conversation with the 34-year-old driver, who gave us a behind-the-scenes peek at five photos she’s shared with her 315,000 Instagram followers over the past several weeks.

Buckle up – there’s more about her “woman cave,” her adeptness with leftovers, her artsiness/craftiness and her very, very expensive new major appliance straight ahead...

The one where she does yoga

Where the photo was taken: In the room the above video referred to as her “Woman Cave.” Patrick says: “I really love yoga, and I have a special room in my house for it. ... It’s my arts and crafts and yoga room. I have dreamcatchers (hanging from the ceiling), I have all kinds of frameless pictures hanging on one wall, and I have a little table with a bunch of candles and things that are important to me. I love that room. ... When I start doing yoga, I usually end up in there for at least two hours.”

That pose: It’s called tittibhasana – or, more commonly, firefly pose. It requires (obviously) arm balance, core strength and flexibility in the legs. Chances are, you can’t do it.

That teacher she shouts out: Acroyoga practitioner Chelsey Korus, who she trained with this past June at a yoga festival called Wanderlust. On this day, Patrick was taking one of Korus’s virtual YogaGlo classes.

More about Patrick’s “arts and crafts and yoga room”: It gets really warm up there in the summer – “which is great for yoga.” It’s also carpeted – “which I think makes my yoga probably a little bit harder. But that’s OK, because then it’s easier when I get on actual hard floor.”

Will you ever run into her at a yoga studio? Don’t bet on it. “I’ve been doing yoga for a really long time, and I feel like classes are great. But I think probably the classes that I would want to go to are in Charlotte, and I’m not gonna drive 45 minutes to do an hour-and-15-minute class.”

The one where she makes ‘fancies up’ leftovers

 

Bunless burger stack!

A photo posted by Danica Patrick (@danicapatrick) on

About that meat: It was ground beef and ground pork Patrick had bought at the Davidson Farmers Market, and that she’d cooked up a couple of nights earlier for some friends. “And it made a lot of burgers, because it was two pounds of meat. I had a lot of leftovers.”

A couple of nights later, her boyfriend – fellow Sprint Cup driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – knew exactly what he wanted for “leftovers night”: As she peeked into her refrigerator, Patrick’s first suggestion was burgers ... and she never got to make a second suggestion. “Anytime you say that to a guy,” she says, “they’re always like, ‘Yeah, a burger!’ So I went ahead and fancied it up.”

What does “fancied it up” mean? She added ketchup, mayo, pickles, tomatoes from her garden, a fried egg (at Stenhouse’s request) and a piece of leftover bacon. No bun, because they generally try to stick to a gluten-free diet. “Then he completely destructed it, and chopped it all up, and made into like a mess, and ate it like that.”

The one where she plugs Nature’s Bakery

Full disclosure: The Nevada-based maker of health-conscious snack foods and fig bars has been the primary sponsor of Stewart-Haas Racing’s No. 10 Chevrolet (that’s Patrick’s car) since last August.

On this day: “I was headed down to Birkdale to go run some errands and I was starving, and I always keep Fig Bars and stuff in my center console,” she says, “so that was what I had to tide me over till I got food.”

She’s eating a gluten-free Pomegranate Fig Bar in the photo, but her favorite flavor is the straight-up Fig: “Love, love, love, love, love. ... When we went to the FSU-Ole Miss game last Monday in Orlando, I was with (my friend) Kimmie Coon (of Motor Racing Network) – we both really, really love healthy food – and we stopped by Whole Foods and picked up a bunch of bars. I think she got plum, but I got a carton of figs and just ate all the figs.”

The one where she freaks out about a spatula

She’s excited because: Patrick created the design on this cooking utensil for Williams-Sonoma and its “Tools of Change” program, which was started in 2013 to draw awareness for the No Kid Hungry cause. The spatula is available for $12.95, and 30 percent of every sale goes directly to No Kid Hungry, which can provide a child with 10 healthy meals for just $1.

She’s also excited because: This is her second year as a designer. Last year, Williams-Sonoma donated an additional $5,000 to No Kid Hungry on Patrick’s behalf because hers was the best-selling spatula among a group of designers that also included: Chef David Chang, Chef Tyler Florence’s son Hayden, Chef Stephanie Izard, Grace Thomas (American Girl “Girl of the Year”) and Chef Michael Voltaggio. This year, she’s competing for the $5,000 charitable donation against – among others – celebrities like late-night TV host Jimmy Kimmel, singer Trisha Yearwood and model Chrissy Teigen.

The design of her current spatula came about almost by accident: “They give you paper and markers, and you draw on the paper with these markers,” Patrick says, “but it’s really hard to make things sharp and really nice. So I worked on this one design for hours.” When she finally finished, she started doodling on a piece of leftover paper: just the word “Yum,” over and over again, in cursive. “It took about 90 seconds,” she says. “And everyone liked that better. So all of my hours of work went to waste, and the 90-second version was what ended up being what everyone loved. It’s funny, because it helped me really realize ... the greatest work just comes to you, and you don’t know when.”

The one where she gets the oven of her dreams

This is indeed one supremely mack-daddy stove: It’s called a La Cornue, and it’s expensive with a capital E. We’re not sure exactly how much she paid for it, but the most expensive La Cornue at Williams-Sonoma (Patrick purchased hers through the Birkdale store) is $9,500 plus a $1,300 “delivery surcharge” – and hers was a special-order custom-made appliance, with copper accents instead of the standard polished brass. “Man, it just looks SO good,” Patrick says. (By the way: She didn’t get any sort of discount, despite her spatula work...)

She has some new pots and pans that will match those accents: They’re made by Mauviel, and – just like the stove is the Ferrari of stoves – this cookware set is the Ferrari of cookware sets. “We’re gonna get a pot rack to put up behind the oven to hang them, because they’re so pretty.”

But hey, Patrick truly did need an upgrade: “The oven that we had before, the bottom heating element didn’t work,” she says. “At Thanksgiving last year, the turkey after three hours was still raw. So it was that push to go, ‘OK, I think we probably need a new oven.’ 

Janes: 704-358-5897;

Twitter: @theodenjanes