Exclusive: Tara Stiles on her cookbook and tips for a flatter stomach
How did you get into teaching yoga?
It's kind of a weird story. When I was a little kid, I would go to the woods and sit and breathe. I didn't know it was meditation or yoga. I saw colours swirling around and when I told my parents about it, they told me not to tell anyone as it was weird and that I shouldn't be seeing colours. I thought it was cool though, and that it was information from the universe. Then growing up, the ballet program I was in had a teacher and I remember seeing him sitting and smiling in one of the yoga positions and I was like, ‘Yes, that's it!" So I went over to him and sat next to him and said I wanted to learn more. Before, I was more into the philosophy side of it and reading books on it. My ballet teacher, who was into yoga, not only helped me with it but also helped me on my path.
Apart from yoga, what do you do to keep yourself fit?
I love any activity where I can use my body - swimming, hiking, anything that gets me moving. I don't like exercises that beat yourself up and make you hurry to get it done.
Tell us more about the cookbook that you are launching in November?
It's a collection of recipes from people I've met all around the world so there are lots of different cultures and healthy versions of recipes. It's a good thing because I think a lot of people think that when they start to get healthy, it all has to look one way, like green juices, smoothies and salads, which can be boring - my cookbook offers recipes that are healthy and taste good.
How does having so many fans around the world make you feel?
I feel that the people who are connected with me through different channels like the internet, it's all for a positive thing. I love that when I meet somebody who knows who I am, they always have a story about themselves and it's not just about them knowing me through a magazine or a book or something like that because that would be the end of the conversation. It's always about them saying that they have used those ideas or done those practices and it has helped them with their lives, and that feels really great. So the more people who know what I'm doing, the better.
Do you think you're someone who practices what you preach?
What I suggest is following how you feel. The yoga lifestyle is so broad especially in the modern world and there are a variety of things, from living in an ashram, to drinking on weekdays and doing yoga on weekend mornings. I think for me, growing up with yoga has always been a process of paying attention and sensitising my body and mind to each other. That's what I've been doing and that's what I'm inviting others to do in an easy way. I don't like to think of it as preaching or teaching. We don't use the word ‘teachers' in Astrala, we use the word ‘guides'. It's more about guiding a process that leads you right back to yourself.
Tips for a flatter stomach?
It's not about burning calories or diet restriction but if you feel good about yourself, you're going to be eating things that make you feel better and your body is going to be healthy. If you're going to be restricting yourself, sometimes it doesn't even work because your body gets into this scared-to-death mode that doesn't know when it's going to get its next meal, and your body sends stress triggers to your mind. Women wonder why they eat very little and they workout a lot but still aren't getting the body they desire - stress is the reason why. With yoga, it's about keeping it regular, moving your body, respecting it as a machine to keep healthy and eating things that are close to nature and not processed foods and paying attention to how you feel when you eat as well. When you start to think ‘oh, I want this body', this thing that you don't have, it's not internal anymore. If you think about how you feel when you eat fruits or a salad or a smoothie and you feel really good, you'll get that body that you desire without even thinking about it.
What do you do in order to achieve what you desire?
I meditate every morning, usually for about 10 minutes or 20 minutes. It's important for me to connect with myself. There are studies that show 20 minutes of meditation a day and you affect the mood of 70,000 people. So if you're in a good mood, everyone around you will be in a good mood. I think that's motivation. And regular yoga practice - I think I'm spoilt because I get to practice yoga all the time and paying attention to what I eat and with interactions, making sure I'm treating people right and being happy and respectful of everybody.
You travel extensively, teach yoga and have a book coming out - what's your secret to being so productive?
With the approach of being easy on your body and doing more with less effort, it automatically translates into life. I don't have to think about it because the more I was doing yoga in an easygoing manner and using less effort to do more, it wasn't costing me as much of my own self and I could be better at them. I know if I feel I can't get all these things done, I'll just do some yoga to slow down. I think the secret is to slow down and you actually get more done that way.
Do you think you have achieved what you want to in life?
Not really (laughs). My goal is to simply connect to myself have good energy, do good things in life and see where that takes me. I have different business goals but on a personal level, it's about maintaining a good energy level, personal growth and personal development. I don't have days where I think life sucks, so it's working.
- Image: stevengohphotoography
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