TARA STILES – YOGA REBEL

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I was first introduced to Tara Stiles during a stay at the W Hotel in Hoboken, New Jersey and couldn’t help but fall in love with her stylish yet meaningful connection to yoga. She began practicing yoga back in the 1990s, and now her Strala classes are being taught in studios, gyms, and clubs around the globe.

Tara is currently partnering with W Hotels, a global program called FIT with Tara Stiles. The program offers Strala Yoga classes and healthy recipes to W properties around the world. She also collaborates with Reebok’s design team on their Yoga lifestyle range and has authored several best-selling books, including Slim Calm Sexy Yoga, Yoga Cures, Make Your Own Rules Diet, and Make Your Own Rules Cookbook. Tara is also a big supporter of President Clinton’s initiative to combat childhood obesity, The Alliance for a Healthier Generation. This program helps bring Strala classes to over 30,000 schools around the United States.

Tara recently took time from her busy schedule to speak with Posh.

POSHSEVEN: Your yoga studios, Strala Yoga, are hugely successful with studios worldwide. Can you tell us what Strala Yoga is?

TS: It’s been incredible to see the success of the guides and studios around the world. Strala is a system based in natural movement, healing, and yoga that allows space for an individualistic practice in the group experience. The class is easygoing through straightforward and challenging moves. People end up being able to do more with this approach and drop the tension and stress of the body and mind.

POSHSEVEN: Your yoga style is considered “fun yoga.” Was this your goal when you started Strala Yoga?

TS: Well, when I started leading yoga, none of my friends thought it was fun or enjoyable, so that was a part of the goal. The fun comes from creating the space for people to follow how they feel and the absence of a rigid environment more commonly known of yoga classes and traditions.

POSHSEVEN: You have had some pretty impressive students like Deepak Chopra and Jane Fonda. What was that like?

TS: I think these greats like taking a class with me because I don’t give people a lecture about yoga. I create an environment for them to experience themselves, which was always my experience with yoga.

POSHSEVEN: You have a huge social media following and millions of fans on YouTube. How did it all get started?

TS: I started making videos on YouTube when YouTube began as a way to connect with friends and family. The goal was to help people connect to themselves, feel great, gain radiant well-being and drop the tension and rigidity out of yoga. I had no idea it would resonate with so many and [would] develop into what we work with today with Strala.

POSHSEVEN: You’ve been called a yoga rebel. What do you make of it?

TS: Well, that was a pretty big New York Times story written about me in 2010. The journalist described me as a rebel against dogma, pretense, and rigidity in the yoga world. And yeah, those things prevent progress and only develop spiritual materialism within the practice. I started doing my thing because the yoga world was so funny to me; it was like an SNL sketch with smoke-filled rooms of offerings, failed actresses turned gurus, and old men having their way with impressionable young girls. That stuff is a joke and exists in a lot of subcultures that dance around inner power and spirituality.

POSHSEVEN: How has yoga evolved and what do you think is the future of yoga?

TS: My goal is to help yoga develop into a practice about connecting to the self instead of a practice about being good at yoga poses and respecting the tradition of yoga. All the sacred texts talk about that, but the practice gets lost in dogma still. And the rigidity of American yoga is so much about practicing stress and tension, and trying to do poses then dropping the tension through simple and challenging situations.
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POSHSEVEN: We hear you have a talent for knitting. Why do you love it?

TS: Ha! Knitting is fun for me. It’s relaxing, and I picked it up as something to do on long flights, originally.

POSHSEVEN: You are an accomplished author with several books to your credit. Why do you think your books have been so successful?

TS: I love that my books are in so many languages and reach people all over the world. I’ve always enjoyed connecting with different types of people from everywhere, and I think my way and style appeals to a diverse group. I’d be bored if I only reached people like me. I’d have to chalk it up as a failure and do something else.

POSHSEVEN: Any future pursuits you can share with our Posh Seven readers?

TS: I have a new book coming in May 2017 entitled Guiding Strala, which is a version of our training manual and ideal for anyone wanting to gain leadership skills for themselves or for leading groups in yoga, meetings, or pretty much any activity with grace and ease.