OM Diaries with Stephanie Main

Tell us a bit about yourself...

When did you start practicing yoga? What do you love most about it?

I found yoga in 2003 while at UCLA. My roommates and I went to a yoga for athletes class and I was hooked. I loved how I felt after both physically and mentally. My mind and body so felt relaxed after each class.

What’s your favorite thing about teaching yoga?

How it can transform someone’s perception of their body. Unlike other forms of movement, there is time to feel exactly how you move and if one side is stronger or tighter than the other. I love teaching athletes how to use yoga to their benefit. There are a lot of postures in the yoga practice that require an extreme amount of flexibility and for the general population, it is too much. My approach is to use yoga as a supplement to your other types of physical activities.

Where do you find your inspiration for your classes?

I find inspiration from functional movement. For example, a good squat requires mobility in the hips and ankles as well as strength in the legs and back. If I want to help someone improve their squat I can use the yoga practice to help them get there. Or if I have a runner in class, I can watch them move and determine how much flexibility is needed to improve their performance. It’s not always about looking at an athlete and saying we need you to be able to get your leg around your head. It’s about finding functional flexibility based on your goals.

Do you run? If so, why?

I run as part of my CrossFit training.

What are your suggestions for runners getting into yoga?

First, figure out what your goals are. If you need more strength, seek out power yoga classes with teachers that understand your needs as an athlete. If you already cross-train but need to improve recovery and flexibility, find a hatha yoga class. But understand that as a runner, you only need a certain amount of flexibility and mobility to perform at your best. Only go into the pose to the point of a good stretch and stay there.

What is your favorite pose?

Pigeon. There’s nothing better than sitting in pigeon and feeling how slowly the intensity of the stretch subsides as you stay in the pose.

And lastly, what is your spirit animal?

I’m going to say a horse. Because they can be really strong or really fast depending on how you train them but they are always graceful in their movements.