Yoga 42 — Meet Steph Armijo

How did you discover yoga?

I began reading about the health benefits of yoga in high school and took my first class in college. But it wasn’t until I took a beginners series of classes at a studio in Austin, TX that I really got hooked. Even then, I wanted to understand the alignment and ensure I was doing the poses correctly.

You are specialized in teaching yoga for elite athletes. How did this come to you?

Before I started teaching yoga, I worked in the baseball industry. I worked for a few teams and for MLB. I had a good understanding of the industry and the challenges that elite athletes face over the course of the season. As I learned about yoga, and how it can help the average person feel better, I wanted to bring that tool to athletes.

Teaching yoga for the Mets sounds a unique challenge. Can you tell a bit more about your experience and what you learned from working elite athletes who may not be yogis themselves?

Established athletes have routines and personal workout regimens. For the most part, there is resistance to add in training if they are not hurt. Additionally, athletes connect working hard with sweating and giving 100% to any physical challenge. It is difficult for many athletes to prioritize recovery and slower modalities that focus on breathing, meditation, etc.

What is your approach to designing yoga classes?

When I work with athletes, I like to establish goals for our yoga sessions. There are many considerations such as schedule, training, travel, time of games, etc that go into planning a yoga session. For the vinyasa classes I teach, I usually decide on areas of the body to focus on and then work my way backwards. For instance, if I am focusing on hamstrings, I think of all the other areas of the body that need to be stretched and warmed up when I focus on a body part.

You are using really cool technologies to help your students learn more about themselves. Can you tell us more about that?

I, like many yoga teachers, moved to an online platform in March 2020. I teach classes via zoom. I’ve been using time before and after class to conduct biomechanical screens to capture joint range-of-motion with machine learning.

What was your experience teaching yoga during COVID-19?

There are many challenges to teaching remote yoga. For one, there is very little feedback from the group during the session as they are muted. It is really about noticing the subtle details while leading a class. You can give breath cues, but it’s difficult to tell if students are taking the time to link breath with movement to maximize each posture.

Where do you think technology can help yoga beside Zoom?

Yoga is an ancient practice and there hasn’t been much change from generation to generation. We were taught to do these poses based off of the way they were taught when yoga was invented. The purpose of these postures initially, was to help young boys prepare for seated meditation. The alignment cues are outdated with no science behind their purpose. We know more about the body now than ever, and technology has become a part of improving our health and fitness. Technology can help us modernize the practice of yoga by using smart, safe alignment to customize the experience.

What can we see next from your side?

We are continuing to build out our yoga biomechanics library with data from my classes. In addition to offering a biomechanics-based teacher’s training, we are working to integrate live data and more individualized sequences within yoga classes to enhance the experience.

About Steph

Steph (E-RYT 500, YACEP) is the founder of Yoga 42, formerly in the sports industry, now a yoga instructor to professional athletes offering services to individuals and teams.

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Yoganotch

Yoganotch

Yoganotch is a personal yoga assistant that gives voice feedback on your yoga form when you practice at home. Created by Notch Interfaces, New York company.