The Secret of a Happy Life?

Model-turned-yogi Tara Stiles has the answer

Model-turned-yoga instructor-turned-health entrepreneur and writer, Tara Stiles opened her first studio, Strala, to meet the demand for her pared-down, easy-going and accessible style of yoga. ‘Accessible’ means $10 per session—even in NYC, so she truly is bringing yoga to the people. What’s more, they include no less than Jane Fonda and Deepak Chopra.
Tara Stiles
 
I LOVE DRESSING UP, IN CONTRAST TO BEING IN SWEATPANTS ALL DAY. IT’S FUN TO FIND COOL STUFF AROUND THE WORLD, LIKE CRAZY DRESSES FROM THE HACHIKO NEIGHBORHOOD IN TOKYO THAT I MATCH WITH CLASSICS FROM PRADA, MARC JACOBS OR CHLOÉ.TARA STILES
When did you discover yoga for yourself? 
I grew up practicing yoga—they taught it at the ballet school I went to. 

At the time you opened your yoga studio you were also modeling. What made you switch to yoga full time? 
It wasn’t something I planned. I just wanted to share it, so I’d get my friends together for classes—even on photoshoots I’d be showing people different yoga moves to help their back pain. One thing led to another: I began writing about yoga and blogging in the Huffington Post; then I started a small studio in my apartment. It grew naturally. 

How would you describe your approach to yoga? 
Strala means ‘to radiate light’ in Swedish—it’s very different from Iyengar, Hatha, or even Vinyasa. I thought having my own style could present a whole bunch of problems, but other instructors wanted to learn how to do this easy-going, fluid approach, and they had a lot of success helping people. So now we have over a thousand instructors in fifteen countries. We don’t use language that doesn’t make sense for anyone new—everything’s practical and movement-based. 

Is your life philosophy to just have fun with what you’re doing? 
It’s about letting myself be open and flexible, and following my interests. I started with yoga in one studio, moved to YouTube, then began writing books. Next, I got into cooking and started on Tumblr, and now I’ve a couple of cookbooks.

Tara StilesWhat are your top five tips for getting into great shape? 
Doing something physical first thing in the morning for 45–60 minutes, two or three times a week, is a great way to feel and look better, whether it’s a class or an online video. When you’re rushed, even 10 minutes gets the blood flowing and body feeling good. You might not immediately see the physical benefits, but you’re set up mentally for the day to want to make healthy food choices. 

You have amazing yoga outfits, and you’ve been designing and collaborating—any favorite designs? 
I started collaborating with Reebok in 2012. They didn’t have a yoga line and I wanted to come up with fun, comfortable clothes, but without sacrificing style. I’ve been doing it for three years now: spring’s theme is pineapples, and next season is a mix of Japanese fashion and New York street-art. 

 
What do you wear when you go out? Still sporty, or do you choose other directions from time to time? 
I love dressing up, in contrast to being in sweatpants all day. It’s fun to find cool stuff around the world, like crazy dresses from the Hachiko neighborhood in Tokyo that I match with classics from Prada, Marc Jacobs or Chloé. 

What are your favorite places for an evening out in New York? 
For dinner, an old standard is Gemma at the Bowery Hotel—drinks in the lobby is great for people watching. Or a favorite neighborhood coffee shops.

 
Tara StilesSo you drink coffee! Coffee is yogi-OK? 
Yeah, I’m not a monster! Some people think healthy people are drinking green juice all day long, but that’s not natural!

What are your principles for a happy life? 
Oh, I’m a work in progress, but I’d say flexibility, not being judgmental, following my intuition, and not intellectualizing or overthinking. Good food and exercise work for most people: everyone feels better when they eat less processed foods, less meat and less dairy, but being attuned to how you feel when you eat certain things is more useful than following one specific diet. My latest book, Make Your Own Rules Diet, is all about this. 

What’s your perfect breakfast, lunch and dinner? 
My favorite breakfast smoothie is the Green Dream—nutrient-rich spinach, tasty banana and sweet almond milk: people like it because it’s sweet, yet it gives you your greens. Or homemade granola: throw rolled oats, different nuts, cranberries—whatever you like—into the oven with a little coconut oil, maple syrup and cinnamon. For lunch and dinner, I make a veggie detox soup: a bit of onion and garlic, then add sweet potato, bell peppers, spinach, kale—any veggies you like—boil everything and add spices. Add coconut milk at the end, simmer it down a bit, and blend it all. It gets really creamy and people think it’s gourmet, but it’s healthy.

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