Yoga for Skaters with Steph Reid: Feet and Ankles

We are so excited to introduce a new stretch series on Quell with our favorite Yoga instructor and skate queen, Stephanie Reid.

Steph teaches the perfect combination of poses to reach all the best stretches for skateboarding. You may have taken a class or two with Steph last summer at our takeover of the The General by Vans space or at Alo Yoga in Williamsburg. We wanted to launch the series with a little Q+A to learn more about Steph!

Tell us about yourself!

I was born in PA, moved to England for a year, then to NJ (where I primarily grew up), then AZ (where I went to the University of Arizona), and finally NYC. I moved to the city to be closer to my family and pursue a career in graphic design and now I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. Although, I really did love the desert- Arizona is such an underrated place.

How did you get into yoga? How did you get into skating?

I did gymnastics for 16 years and my coaches would often have us try different workouts- weight training, running, ballet, calisthenics, yoga and probably more (they got very creative when it came to conditioning). So the very first time I did yoga, I didn’t think much of it. But, when I blew out my knee and decided stop competing, yoga was recommended as part of my recovery. So, I joined a fitness center near my house and started taking classes with my mom. I remember feeling mortified when I walked into my first class and saw that I was the youngest person there by about 40 years. But, I rolled out my mat and focused on the teacher, thinking this is gonna be easy- I was a level 10 gymnast. Boy was I wrong! My arms were shaking in down dog and I left so humbled. The thing with yoga is, you could be in the best shape of your life, but if you’ve never used your muscles in the way that yoga engages them, it’s going to be difficult.

As an athlete, I loved the physical challenge of yoga. But, I was completely unaccustomed to the practice’s mentality. Yoga asks you to respect your body’s limitations, not compare yourself to anyone (including former versions of yourself) and strive for presence over perfection. I felt so liberated! I didn’t realize that my ego was as battered and bruised from gymnastics as my body. The more I practiced the better I felt. One of my favorite teachers in Arizona noticed my dedication to the practice and suggested I do a teacher training. I used to be so shy so, I dismissed the idea at first. But the more I thought about it, I began to realize what a cool opportunity it would be to share my passion and learn more about the practice that had transformed my life. 5 years of teaching and over 350 hours of training later, and I’m more in love with yoga than ever.

Skating didn’t enter into my life until a little over a year ago. My sister, Christi, used to do it in high school and my other sister, Lizzi, picked it up after she graduated from Pratt, so it was always in my peripherals. When I moved to NY after college, I had a hard time figuring out where I fit in. It’s crazy how you can be so surrounded by people and still feel lonely. Lizzi related to that struggle and invited me to a girls skate meet up at Skate Brooklyn. She assured me that skating’s how she made all of her friends post college and figured my background would help me pick it up quickly. I was so self conscious at first, but was lucky to have Quell and Grl Swirl hosting meet ups for beginners all the time. Lizzi had also been skating for around 7 or 8 years by then, so it helped to be associated with someone who was so ingrained in the community. I fell in love with the adrenaline and the people! Now I can’t imagine my life without skateboarding.

Photo by Erin O’Brien

When did you start to combine the idea of yoga for skateboarders?

When I started skating a lot, I couldn’t believe how sore it made my body. I ride goofy, so my left achilles got super tight from pushing, while my right hamstring would get sore from balancing on my board. My hips felt tight from squatting and jumping for hours on end too, so yoga became an essential way to stretch off my soreness and prevent injury. I also noticed how applicable yoga’s mentality was to skating. Yoga trains you to quiet the mind and focus on your breath and movement, thereby increasing your proprioception. In skating, this prevents you from getting paralyzed by thoughts of all the ways you can get hurt by trying a new trick and trusting in your body awareness. Fear plays such a big role in skating- it did in gymnastics as well. You can get really hurt trying these tricks and not everyone is able to push past that possibility to fully commit- and that’s often when the worst injuries happen. So, yoga really compliments skating both the physically and mentally.

I started to progress really quickly and people were noticing! At first I just attributed it to my history as a gymnast, but then I realized what a big role yoga was playing. So, I started recommending skaters try it. Especially because I would hear a lot of them complaining of soreness and saying they needed to stretch more, but didn’t know what to do. Unfortunately, a lot of skaters were dismissive of yoga- either they didn’t think they would be good at it, couldn’t afford it or were intimidated to enter into a community that had never reached out to them. So when Quell approached me about teaching some classes at The General by Vans in Williamsburg last summer, I jumped at the opportunity! I was excited to curate a yoga experience specifically for skaters so that they could see how beneficial the practice is for them.

What is your advice for someone who is first starting to practice yoga?

Leave your expectations at the door and be patient with your practice. Failure is part of any learning process and progression takes time. Just like with skating, start off with the basics- you’re not going to try a kick flip before you even know how to stand on your board, right? The same applies to yoga. That’s why I always offer variations of poses with props to help you on your yoga journey. Accept where you are at in the present moment and use it as an opportunity to better yourself for the future.

What is your favorite yoga position and what is your favorite skate trick so far?

My favorite yoga position is handstand- it’s my happy place. My favorite skate trick is a fakie 360 kick turn (also known as a dizzy Lizzi). My sister makes them look so effortless and cool- I remember seeing her do it for the first time in a skirt on the mini ramp at Blackbear bar. She was the only girl skating and when she did that trick all the guys tapped their boards for her. I’m so stoked that I recently learned how to do it myself!

How are you staying sane during social distancing?

Lot’s of yoga and Netflix. I’m so grateful for my roommates and video calls with friends! Staying in touch with loved ones during this time of isolation is super important.

Anything else you want to add/share?

I am so grateful for how welcoming the skate community has become because I know it wasn’t always like that- especially for girls. So I want to shout out my sister, Lizzi, the girls from Late Skate, Quell, Grl Swirl and all you individual trailblazers (Yaz, Kava and Dee, just to name a few) for paving the way for girls like me! You created this incredible community of positivity and support in a city that so often chews people up and spits them back out. I feel so lucky to be a part of it and contribute what I have to offer- yoga, backflips, and of course skating.

Where and when do you teach yoga– local to Brooklyn? (If schedule is staying the same post COVID 19?)

I teach Yoga for Skaters classes twice a month at the Alo store in Williamsburg. The dates vary month to month, so follow me on Instagram (@stephreid333) to stay tuned for upcoming classes!

Watch our first stretch below