Model-turned-yoga-instructor Tara Stiles is the founder of Strala Yoga in New York City. With a budding empire that includes DVDs, books and partnerships with brands ranging from Reebok, she launched a yoga apparel line via the athletic wear giant, to W Hotels, where she created in-room yoga videos, she’s unarguably one of the most well-known yogi celebrities. Now, the author of Slim Calm Sexy Yoga and Yoga Cures has released a new book, Make Your Own Rules Diet, complete with yoga sequences, meditations, recipes and advice for living a tension-free, healthy life. We spoke with Stiles to find out more about her book and her healthy living tips.
theFashionSpot: With so many wellness and diet books out there, what made you want to write your own?
Tara Stiles: Over the years of teaching around the world, one of the topics that people I meet always bring up and resonate with is the idea that Strala helps to connect with how you feel, so you can sensitize yourself to your personal physical, mental and emotional needs. This idea often gets lost in advice on diets and nutritional needs. We often forget that following how we feel is valuable and following a rule or diet may not be the best idea. The philosophy behind the book is the same concept as Strala, geared toward nourishment and life. The prescription is practicing what makes you feel great, so you desire to treat yourself with the nourishment that cultivates a radiant, vibrant you.
tFS: Can you expand on how yoga specifically fits into the prescription and the moves you feature in the book?
TS: The concept behind the sequences is directing you to move how it feels great for you, so you can get in touch with how you feel. The routines are mood-based to uplift and connect. So much of our eating habits are emotional-based, I felt guided to create the feeling of connection through the movement part of the book as well as the meditations.
tFS: What made you opt to use your Instagram photos in the book?
TS: I have a mix of super gorgeous pro photos from Andrew Scrivani and a lot of playful shots I’ve taken myself with my iPhone and other cameras. I was super into photography when I was 18-19 and wanted to continue that expression, but got swept up with dance and yoga. Adding the personal shots in the book brings a very playful and intimate side out that hopefully makes the book super fun to flip through. I wanted to create a book that you could look through hundreds of times and find something new. I’m nostalgic for scrapbooks and yearbooks and school things. I love collage and street art and mixing and matching themes and ideas. Design to me is important when it comes to anything visual, and this type of book for me, I wanted it to be visually and emotionally stimulating.
tFS: From a brand-building perspective, how important has social media been?
TS: I view social media as an opportunity to share and connect. When I put yoga videos on YouTube people thought I was crazy, but now that’s a normal practice for thousands of instructors and brands. Whatever the outlet is, a common platform that anyone with an Internet connection can see and enjoy, and that sort of access has been fascinating and incredibly powerful for me. It’s also very democratizing to a point. If you have a message and people like and connect with it, that can go where it goes.
tFS: You share some personal stories in the book involving anorexia and rape. What made you decide to share those personal stories and what tools did you use to cope in those difficult times?
TS: Honestly, that is something I rarely think about for myself. It’s so far in my past from an emotional and troubled point of view, it’s not so much as part of my process as I felt very guided to share the story to reach out to others in a similar position. So many young girls have come up to me in the last couple years with tears sharing intense stories like mine and saying how I have helped them in some way. They haven’t known the story and I have only been there to provide the tools to help people connect, which has helped. Sharing the story now I feel in a way honors those people and anyone who has gone through something similar to know there is a practice back to radiant.
tFS: If you had one piece of advice to share with people when it comes to reducing stress on a day-to-day level, what would it be?
TS: Do something every day that makes you happy and connect. Do something physical for yourself. Take a little bit of time for just you on an emotional level and get in your kitchen and explore.
tFS: What are some of your favorite brands for fitness apparel?
TS: I’m partial to my collab with Reebok. We’ve really come a long way making some super fun pieces that have spread to a global movement. Cloud pants, rainbow pants, rainbow jackets and a bunch of pineapple prints coming for spring. I’m thrilled they let me exercise my wild imagination in the apparel world.