Where: Strala Yoga, 632 Broadway, New York, NY
Tara Stiles: An Om-less Wonder
Tara's reputation precedes her in the yogi-verse, so this little undercover sloth was determined to check out what she's all about.
[Click here to review Tara's class yourself, or check out her RateYourBurn profile here.]
On Tara, the instructor:
- A spunky stringbean with a husky, surfer-chill voice. She has a way of stringingherwordstogether-so-you-hangontothemlikeglue.
- Paging Tara’s ego: where are you?? Tara casually chatted folks up before class and betrayed not a trace of any, say, former modeling contracts, book deals, or YouTube followings. In fact, she managed to tuck them all away nicely in her polka-dot socks.
- Social media maven: I'll try not to dwell on her outside reputation, except to say that Tara’s in-class demeanor very much rings true to her online persona – all about the approachability and openness of the practice (AM Yoga in Bed or Couch Yoga, anyone? My inner sloth squeals with glee.)
- All about free will / choosing your own adventure. Throughout class, Tara offered modifications up (i.e. king pigeon to my carrier pigeon) with no added pressure to do so. Maybe you pretzel-out today. Maybe you don’t.
On Tara, the giggler:
- Huh-huh hmm-hmm-hmm
- Tara’s giggle is infectious, helped set the tone of the class, and thus warrants a section devoted to its awesomeness.
On the class:
- True to the Strala vibe, class did not begin with rounds of Om or chants in Sanskrit. It’s all about making yoga fun and approachable here. For example, you could count on one hand the number of Tara used the word “chaturanga” during our 75 minutes, which I found incredibly refreshing, considering when I first started yoga a couple years ago, I was fairly certain this was a term reserved for ninja turtles.
- A slow-flow class that wasn’t overly nappy. Nice sequencing, with just enough pause to tweak form and alignment. And despite the full house, Tara made a point of adjusting everyone.
- A solid open-level class that actually IS receptive to beginners (my peeve = "open" classes that intimidate the shiz out of the non-advanced). Choose your own sweat level, though if you truly are brand-spankin’-new to yoga, consider Strala’s weekend Beginner series.
Awkward moment alert.
- In the middle of class, Tara asked us to bust out what felt like 5 whole minutes of freestyle. Freestyle? What I saw around me ran the gamut from basic flow to inversions. Personally, I thought it hiccupped the flow of the class, but perhaps I just lack the creative juices to freestyle for that long (M&Ms > Eminem).
- Part of our wind-down was that funky breathing exercise where you pinch alternate nostrils while directing your breath in one and out the other. This was my first encounter with this curiosity, which is nearly impossible to demonstrate to a room of 30+, and the one time I would’ve liked Tara to slow down her verbal instruction. So I faked it, and played ‘got yer nose!’ with my own nose for a few minutes.
Music was modern and well-synchronized with the pace of the class, though a touch heavy on the Jack Johnson.
Tara's mellow style may not be for everyone, and she's gotten flak in the yogisphere for the lack of focus on spirituality in her practice. I admit I do enjoy the occasional lesson, analogy or theme (note: "it's Friday!" suffices as a theme to me). However, don't discount Tara's approach until you've tried it.
An Om-less oasis in the headache that can be the NY yoga landscape. I look forward to dropping in on Tara's Strong classes as well.
From the Strala Website: Tara is the founder and owner of Strala Yoga, widely known for it’s unpretentious, inclusive, and straightforward approach to yoga and meditation. Named “Yoga Rebel” by the New York Times, Tara Stiles has inspired a wide audience around the world with her healthy and relatable approaches to yoga, meditation, exercise, awareness, nutrition and every day well being. Tara has been featured in publications including Elle, Harpers Bazaar, Lucky, InStyle, Esquire, Shape, and Self, and has been profiled by the Times of India, The Times (UK), and Sweden’s Dagnes Nyheter. She is the personal yoga instructor to Deepak Chopra, whom she’s collaborated with to create the best selling Authentic Yoga iPhone app, Yoga Transformation DVD series among other projects. Jane Fonda named Tara, “The new face of fitness”. They partnered to re-launch Jane’s famous WORKOUT brand of fitness DVDs and equipment. Tara is the author of the best selling books Yoga Cures and Slim Calm Sexy Yoga. Her approach leads people to their own intuition and awareness. The results are radiant health and lasting happiness. As Vanity Fair noted, “Tara Stiles has got to be the coolest yoga instructor ever.”