The ‘easy’ advice of a yoga ‘rebel’
Tara Stiles seems pretty harmless, even if she is a yoga ‘rebel’.
The laid-back yoga celebrity taught classes in Sydney’s Botanic Gardens for International Yoga Day, wearing Harlequinesque-print pants, a fluoro pink grandma-knit jumper and sunnies.
The Illinois native, who lives in New York, speaks with a friendly drawl that is about as far from an affected, creepy-sounding ‘yoga voice’ as you can get and whose regular encouragement in class to be ‘nice and easy’ is as close to soothing ‘yoga talk’ and Sanskrit text as she gets.
Despite this, Stiles, whose fans include Jane Fonda and Deepak Chopra, remains incredibly popular and likeable.
The 35-year-old former model is the face of (and teacher for) the popular Fitstar app, founder of Strala yoga, Reebok ambassador and author of four books.
She takes the criticism with ease – the word she uses to describe what yoga means to her, and says:
“I think the idea of traditional yoga… just poses and meditation after is pretty rigid. The more current evolution is helping people to get more connected with their bodies.”
Besides, she says of Slim, Calm, Sexy, Yoga, published when she was 28-years-old, that she had been writing a yoga blog on ‘real life’ issues for Women’s Health magazine – topics included yoga to help you get over a relationship and yoga to help you lose weight.
“That was my first book working with Women’s Health and they didn’t want to make a ‘yoga’ book because they thought it was boring… it was a new concept.”
A new concept – to reframe an eastern approach through a western pop culture lens – that has now become more common than not in yoga classes.
In its traditional or modern form, yoga can still help people to relax and become more connected, Stiles insists.
“I love the concept that you can achieve more with less effort – it’s a great tool to practice how you are off the mat… yoga is a great tool to connect with yourself and your body.”
If you’re frustrated easily or give up easily in life, for instance, you will notice the same tendencies arise in challenging poses, where there is focused opportunity to practice a different approach.
“How you practice is how you do everything,” she says.
What about the people who have a beautiful yoga practice but are neurotic off the mat?
“You can see it in the practice – if the goal is the pose,” says the classically trained ballet dancer. “But the [real] goal is the process… Connecting with the self and feeling good looks better than some contorted scorpion pose – being happy and healthy shows.”
If you can breathe, you can do yoga. Yoga is a magic element that rests inside, waiting to be discovered. It's not something you need to change who you are to do, but your natural self full of potential, radiant wellbeing, and the ability to achieve more with less, enjoy the daisies, and gain perspective on the goodness of things. Yoga is you. Happy international yoga day. I get to celebrate twice this year! Here in Sydney we had it yesterday so going again with friends back home. Thanks for the lovely pic @stralayoga recently @reebok more to come soon! #internationalyogaday #stralayoga #reebokwomen
- Seated meditation: “To connect to your breath and feel good”.
- Pigeon: “To release stress and get into the mind a little bit.”
- Balance poses like tree or dancers: “How we have to find balance through movement. People can get rigid really easily, it’s nice to practice ease and softness.”
“Every morning is an opportunity to connect to your breath,” she says.
“I try to leave my phone in the office or another room and just use an alarm. I spend five minutes sitting in bed breathing then, if I don’t have to race out the door, I like making breakfast – a smoothie or cooking at home and I spend about 10 to 15 minutes of moving.”
Liked this? Read these!
Got something to say? Get it off your chest here
The Juice Daily is a Fairfax Media owned website