words by Rebecca Dalby, Pilates & Dance Fitness Trainer
You may or may not have heard about Tara Stiles or Strala Yoga, however one thing is for sure, you will most certainly very, very soon. Tara Stiles is setting the Yoga world on fire. Her innate, natural form of Yoga, called Strala Yoga, is currently the fastest selling and most rapidly worldwide spreading style of the ancient Indian practise.
I had the absolute pleasure of meeting Tara in London at the launch of Reebok’s new Yoga line, of whom she has collaborated with and brand ambassador. Tara began life on a farm in the middle of rural America where she enjoyed the outdoors and relished the sense of freedom. At an incredibly young age she began to find herself meditating and creating easy flowing movements which she later discovered was Yoga. Through her dance training both at home and at University, she was officially introduced to the Yoga discipline and continued to explore and personally reap the benefits of her practise. Before Tara had chance to decide on a ‘career’, she was quickly picked up by a modelling agency after finishing her degree where she moved to the Big Apple.
During her successful modelling career, Tara continued practising and began to teach Yoga in between jobs and at every possible moment – even to fellow models whilst on shoot! The resounding success of Tara’s Yoga teaching organically led her to drop the modelling and focus 100% of her time on teaching Yoga, or as she would say – guiding. Within 4 years Strala Yoga (Tara’s Yoga studio in NYC), was born along with the help of her husband, Mike Taylor.
So what makes Tara different to other Yogis? Well, Tara believes Yoga is for quite literally everyone. No matter what age, ability, race or religion, “Yoga is the dance of life”.
What does the Strala style look like? Laid back, free flowing and fun. The focus is on the physicality of Yoga and connecting the breath to each movement you create. The “spiritual stuff” comes second and is not forced or instigated by the guide (what Tara calls the ‘teacher’). Tara believes that Yoga is about calm, conscious movement which leads to relaxation and a soothing of the mind, which transcends throughout your whole being and life. The spiritual aspect of Tara’s approach to Yoga is created through the deep connection of the body, mind and soul through movement. As I firmly believe and know to be true, your body reflects your mind and soul, and your mind and soul is reflected through the body.
Tara Stiles and Strala Yoga are refreshing and their enthusiasm for life is infectious. Although it has caused a stir amongst the hard core Yoga communities (mainly in the U.S.A), this is probably the most accessible approach I have ever come across. Whoever you are, this simple practise is easy to follow and addictive!
Tara’s aim is to bring Yoga to the masses. Her first step is to educate people about the benefits of Yoga and break down the stereotypes and barriers people have about it. Second is to make it affordable, (Strala Yoga is one of the cheapest Yoga classes you can attend in NYC), and build genuine, friendly (but not weird) communities people can be part of.
Perhaps on a more personal note I would like to say that what you see on all her various social media outlets is 100% genuinely her. She seems to have the ability to see straight into your soul (whether that’s face to face, or over the internet!), which is kind of weird, but means you feel safe to open up, follow and connect. Tara loves to see people flourish in life and the emphasis is always you, not her; quite the opposite to many other Yoga practises and ‘celebrity trainers’. Although I spent only one day with her, I feel I have a friend for life!
All I can say is; get on You Tube and check her out immediately, see for yourself and then get involved.
TARA STILES ON LIFE AND YOGA…
What does yoga mean to you?
I firmly believe that regular yoga practice has transformative and healing powers as well as many positive physical benefits. It allows you to become not only radiant, healthy and toned but more compassionate towards yourself and others. The movements of yoga make you more open, flexible and focused so it really does have holistic benefits.
What are the key benefits of yoga?
Yoga is great for both physical and mental reasons – not only is it a great form of exercise in the morning, it’s good at any time throughout the day. The movements of yoga will carve out a long, lean, strong and confident body as well as resting your mind back to a natural state that is calm, focused and sharp – the result is an easy, calm, capable you.
What does a typical yoga session look like?
I don’t think there is such a thing as a ‘typical yoga session’, there are so many different styles that it’s up to you to find a style of Yoga that fits your needs.
What kind of music do you listen to when you exercise?
I like to play a real mix of music during my yoga sessions, everything from Cat Stevens to The XX. I’ve actually done a yoga playlist for Reebok on Spotify so people can listen to my favourite yoga tracks – it’s called Tara Stiles’ Rebel Yoga FitList.
Do you have any tips for keeping healthy?
Yoga is a powerful way to detox your entire body. Yoga postures help to heal the body by opening and twisting, sending the breath to the required area. Breathing is the key to cleansing your system and supplying fresh oxygen and nutrients to the area of the body that you are opening, so be sure to really “tune-in” to your breathing when you are doing these yoga postures. Nutrition is also a really important part of my life, and should in my opinion be to everyone’s lifestyle. It enhances all elements of general fitness and wellbeing.
What are your top beauty tips?
Drink plenty of water and get lots of rest. Drinking water keeps your skin cleansed and hydrated, encouraging clear, fresh skin. By drinking water you flush out toxins and eliminate the dirt that clogs the pours of your skin, giving you a healthy glow. Also, always get lots of sleep!
What are your essential workout accessories?
Definitely my water bottle and a snack to eat straight after a yoga session! I love to make my own trail nut mix with unsalted, raw nuts and my favourite dried fruit – it’s so good!
What foods can you not live without?
Greens, veggies, quinoa, tea, almond milk… oh and hummus!
What does your typical diet consist of on a daily basis?
I love plant based mac & cheese – it’s healthy and delicious at the same time. One thing I love about this dish, besides that it is fun and easy to make, all the ingredients are so clean and fresh – you can mix out the pasta with all kinds of fun substitutes to keep this recipe fresh in your house. A tip is to try and keep all your ingredients clean and fresh.
Do you have any guilty pleasure foods?
I do love a good coffee and I definitely have a sweet tooth!
What fuels your passion for fitness and yoga?
Changing the rules like I have done with yoga! I like to ignite the “Fire” within me to push myself further and not to allow myself to feel completely satisfied.