Tara Stiles has collaborated with Jane Fonda and Deepak Chopra, is author of three books, has more than 200,000 YouTube subscribers and was described by Vanity Fair as, ‘the coolest yoga instructor ever’
Have more energy, lose weight, relax, eat better – each of us has our own goals to achieve, so a one-size-fits-all approach to wellbeing might not be the best route, at least that’s the suggestion of yoga guru Tara Stiles’ new book.
Stiles is the founder and owner of Strala, a movement-based system that encourages freedom and expansion. Laid-back and energetic simultaneously, Strala is HQd in New York but is a global phenomenon with classes in Los Angeles and Paris.
Stiles, who radiates health and positivity, credits her ‘straight-edged hippy’ parents for her inspired and invigorating approach to life. Raised in a solar house in Illinois, she talks of an idyllic childhood overflowing with home-grown vegetables, recycling and reusing – way ahead of today’s trend – and playing and meditating in the woods. She studied dance and yoga as a teenager and became interested in how breathing and movement can help to make us feel fantastically alive.
Strala is the culmination of this approach, and Stiles works carefully with instructors to ensure a class experience is as positive and invigorating, whether it’s delivered on the West Coast or in the French capital.
“People consistently say, ‘That was so much fun!’ ‘I felt free to be myself!’ ‘I did more than I thought I could and it was easy,” exclaims Stiles. “
The concept is about achieving a breath body connection, moving in a way that feels great to move and naturally through simple and challenging moments alike.
“From my earliest memories, I was interested in connection and expansion and the concept of movement with ease. It’s an evolution of yoga, but the concept is very open and connected to elements of nature, science and the human experience”
“The more I got into yoga, the more I saw a divide and people who didn’t practise. I started making videos and sharing classes with friends. I needed a name for my studio and came up with Strala. It’s a Swedish word that means to radiate light. The meaning was synchronicity.
I thought I had invented a word combining strength, balance and awareness. I created a concept that was simple and natural, but didn’t exist in the industry.”
What makes Stiles’ Strala classes distinct from traditional yoga is a series of moods and paces to suit participants, according to how they are feeling. “Natural movement allows people to get further with less effort,” she continues. “Dance understands this concept very well. Yoga often gets stuck on dissection. I’m not interested in teaching people about their elbows or an evolution of Hindu philosophy but more in guiding people to connect with how they feel and move naturally so they can build strength and a healthy range of motion.”
But Stiles’ approach is not solely based around exercise. Her holistic approach to life is reflected in her latest book, Make Your Own Rules Dietwhich encompasses self-reflection, relaxation and diet. “Healthy and balanced living means having a consistent practise of mindfulness that spreads through the day,” she explains. “From meditation to mindful eating and interactions, self-care and reflection, there is so much variety to keep things interesting and balanced. Start small and do something every day – whether it’s five minutes of yoga in the morning or after work, or five minutes of meditation or both. Keep at it consistently.
“My first two books were more about yoga practice and aim to make that more approachable for people. Food and mood were the next steps to tackle. Everyone wants to feel better. I wanted to demystify healthy eating and show that it can be delicious, as well as healthy and, just as importantly, cost-effective.”
With step-by-step goal setting processes, six yoga routines, breathing and meditation practices, plus an array of recipes, Stiles invites us to create our own paths to realise our individual goals. Based on her own achievements, it’s a route we might be well-advised to choose.
Make Your Own Rules Diet by Tara Stiles is published by Hay House.
Tara’s tips for healthy living
- Practise regularly. I have loads of videos online to help people fit in a few minutes of yoga wherever you are and however much time you have.
- Drink your greens! Green juices and smoothies are an easy way to get your energy up and keep your whole body and energy vibrant.
- Do new things, learn new skills to stay interested and active. I’m into knitting, learning languages and Japanese culture. Pick something and make a hobby out of it. It will keep your mind sharp.
Four things to know about Tara Stiles
How do you start your day…
Green dream – spinach, banana, almond milk. Blend and enjoy. Then five minutes of yoga.
Fly on the wall – who would you visit?
The Dalai Lama – I want to see if he really meditates all day long.
What’s your driving force?
I have no idea, I just love what I do and I have a lot of energy. Also, I want to help. I know my work helps, so that’s why I go after it every day.
What rules must be broken in life?
All of them – except for traffic lights