Tara Stiles began her yoga journey leading friends, and friends of friends, in one-on-one sessions together with a free weekly class on the green grounds of New York's Central Park. This comes as no surprise: this lively and lovely lady has always felt a deep connection with nature and spirituality.
In her early years, Tara felt drawn to the concept of personal interconnections with nature and between people, and she enjoyed meditating in the woods and participating in contemporary dance. She was also fascinated by the world around her and the interplay between nature and science --as well as a compulsion to make a difference in people's lives.
"I knew I would start some sort of company with the purpose of helping people," she says. "When I was little, I thought it would be through some sort of business, and it turns out that my intuition was right; it just so happened that all my interests and passions were all combined into the philosophy and practice of Strala Yoga."
In 2007, Tara made her debut by posting YouTube videos of herself performing Strala poses to help people with aches and pains. The video attracted many viewers, although they also drew some criticism from other yoga professionals, unused to seeing classes delivered on what was then a very young medium. Things have, of course, changed since then: social media has exploded, as has the popularity of yoga.
Tara tells us that Strala Yoga brings about physical results and mental improvements, including focus and clarity, far more quickly than any other type of yoga. Other yoga styles have their practitioners simply pose and then change the pose, or pose and then relax. Physical transformation is not so much the main goal.
With the huge growth in the popularity of yoga, many practitioners have blended in Pilates and acrobatic movements into styles and practices, referring to them as "yogalates" and "acroyoga". The belief behind these styles is that enhanced flexibility leaves a greater impact on the body.
Tara believes that it is not so much the choice of style that one should be worried about, but the ability to stick to one particular style to be able to feel good and see a difference in the long run.
"When we enjoy exercise, our wellbeing chemicals kick iin," she says. "We feel good and we want to keep that good feeling going for the rest of the day. This also affects our food choices and how we live our lives outside of that one-hour class.
"With Strala, it's all about the process of continuous movement. The goal is the process, not the pose, which makes the poses easy. My background is in dance and choreography, so it's fun to put together different movements that are appropriate for different classes," she says. Her ultimate goal is to help people connect to themselves and to gain gracefulness in physicality so they can expand their worldviews and have a positive impact on those around them.
Recently in Indonesia, Tara has collarboarated with W Hotels in a partnership called "FIT with Tara Stiles", which took her to W Retreat & Spa Seminyak Bali, as well as a sunset yoga event in Ancol, North Jakarta. She plans to return to Asia soon, so watch this space for news of her classes.