Free your mind

She’s taught Yoga to the likes of author Deepak Chopra, with whom she collaborated to create apps and DVDs, as well as to actress Jane Fonda. 32-year-old Yoga trainer Tara Stiles conceptualised Strala Yoga (the New York Times called her the Yoga Rebel), which features the usual headstands and breathing exercises but is, at the same time, known for being unpretentious, inclusive and straightforward in its approach to Yoga and meditation.

(Above and below) Tara Stiles performing yoga asanas. Pics/Satyajit Desai

She was in the city as Reebok India’s Global Yoga ambassador. Post Mumbai, she will visit Bengaluru and Delhi as part of her India tour. Demystifying Strala Yoga, she says, “It encourages freedom, relaxes the body, makes Yoga enjoyable and helps you be strong in an easy-going way.”

While growing up in Illinois, Stiles lived on a farm and roamed around forests. She taught herself to meditate and practiced Ballet as well. Later, she trained under several masters across the world. “Strala Yoga came naturally to me, and I benefitted from it. I decided to teach it to others to help them curb anxiety and deal with physical, emotional and eating issues,” she explains.

Stiles, who also pursued modelling, started teaching Strala Yoga in New York, in 2008. While NYC boasted of “a yoga studio in every corner”, Stiles’ form, which blends Classical dance, Yoga, Tai Chi movements and meditation, found several takers.

Stiles spells out that at times, conventional Yoga trainers push you and force poses which leads to injury while with Strala Yoga, the focus is on guiding people to perform asanas with ease and emphasise on body alignment.

Stiles’ website also mentions that they help people “make their own Yoga”. She elaborates, “People’s bodies move differently. So, during a session, everyone might not be in the same position. We believe that it’s okay to move at your own pace.”

Space is also an integral part of Strala Yoga: “The concept of non-limiting, open space is integral to Strala Yoga. You can accomplish more if there is more space. Similarly, if there is more space in your mind, you can tap into intuition and generate passion and feel free.”

It also stresses on accessibility and the fact that it can be done by all. “In the same class, we have at times, kids and elderly people learning Yoga and enjoying it.” Next, she plans to create an online training module so people across the world can access her videos.

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