Tara Lee is a wonderful yoga instructor who never meant to become a yogi. I have done her ‘Pregnancy Health Yoga’ DVD while expecting my son ( having heard of her from Dr. Gowra Motha, with whom I had some wonderful treatments during the pregnancy ). When my next baby was born, it coincided with the release of two other DVDs from Tara, ‘Postnal Yoga’ and ‘Yoga for you & your baby‘. Having done all three of those DVDs and having found Tara’s style quite calming and the effect of the practise beneficial for both myself and my children, I was really excited about her latest DVD release, ‘Elements of Yoga: earth foundation’.
And it wasn’t just Tara and her soothing manner, it was the idea of aiming to be more grounded and connected to the Earth, when each day of our lives seems to be moving at an even faster pace, that made me try it early in the morning. The DVD itself has been shot in Clarement Gardens, a National Trust place in Surrey. While this DVD is aimed at beginners, I don’t consider myself one, having practised yoga on and off for over ten years, I found the asanas not just grounding, but challenging too, allowing me to extend my knowledge of the yoga practises.
The DVD itself is divided into three 20 minute sequences and also has several bonus features:
–Earth, concentrating on balances, relates to your feet & legs
–Air & Water, paying particular attention to yes, you guessed it, breathing, ( in this segment Tara is even wearing calming blue colours, sitting on her yoga mat positioned on the grass, next to the lake, creating a very serene setting ) and
–Fire, linked to the fire in your belly, your Core and your digestion ( here Tara wears a bright orange top and coral yoga pants and the setting is night-time, with Tara looking very feminine, yet powerful in an Amazonian kind of way, next to the burning fires that create a very powerful visual effect, while you are doing this quite challenging set ).
All the above mentioned sets last ten minutes or so and you can add them to your main workout. You can choose to do more of a mental practise or more of a physical one, for example a 20 minute Earth section or just a ten minute abs section, with the meeting point of sorts being the Savasana at the end, to balance and calm. Personally, I find it very fulfilling to finish each session with a five minute Savasana or sometimes it’s great to do it on its own, before going to bed in the evening-that’s the magic of such DVDs, you can tailor them as matrixes suited to your particular moods, abilities, sense of well-being and time restrictions. As Tara also says, firing practise is more suited to the morning, when you might feel slightly stiff in your joints, while evening is a perfect time for a calming one.
I started this DVD with doing the Earth section first and found that on the days when I start my days with this practise, I actually do feel calmer and more grounded, no mean feast when I move and think non-stop, balancing my work commitments and my children.
Having spoken to Tara about her latest DVD release, I was surprised to find out that she never planned to teach yoga and it was an almost chance induction. When she was studying at University in Bristol, one of her friends invited her to go along to a yoga class, which obviously sparked a curiosity in Tara, who continued to take classes, trying different types of yoga. After doing yoga classes for about five years, she decided to commit to an intense, one week course in London, which led her to teaching yoga to her friends and family, which she did in the evenings, as she worked during the day.
As life would have it, Tara taught yoga at the health center, which had a room allocated to teaching yoga classes for a couple of years. Word of mouth recommendations spread by clients, who loved her yoga teaching style and her soft, yet practical manner. Tara’s pregnancy yoga in particular gained a large following, culminating in Life Center knocking on Tara’s door.
As her DVDs started coming out, clients wanted more, so Tara said that it was a natural progression to release this DVD, having done yoga DVDs dedicated to pregnancy and post-pregnancy and bonding with your baby. She started thinking about creating a general yoga DVD, suited to her clients needs. Having studied shiatsu in the past, an Asian practise ( there are disputes still ongoing whether it was initially developed in Japan or China ) it made sense to Tara to try incorporate this knowledge, trying to sort of categorise different yoga postures, with the main theme running through the practise. One day we might feel fired-up, powerful and the next we might have the desire for a practise that will calm the frayed nerves-as all those feelings and emotions are interconnected, each one of us can tap into the matrixes and create a perfect one for a specific day. Imagine that yesterday you flew out on business, so today you might feel jet-lagged and tired, but doing a light, grounded practise might help to center you and allow you to have a creative day, while interacting with your business clients.
This DVD ‘marries’ together not just shiatsu and Chinese medicine, which in some ways cross-over, but Tara also integrates Ayurvedic principles into it. Ayurveda stresses the importance of balancing all three energies in a person: Vata ( air & space ), Pitta ( fire & water ) and Kapha ( water & earth) and each one of us is the amalgam of all three, with one of the other being stronger, dominating or being more out of balance. Hence Tara’s desire to create a practise that anyone can do, which will bring you in tune with your foundation. As Tara says, your daily yoga practise doesn’t have to be challenging or complicated, but we all need to feel in tune with our inner self ( the only practise that is advanced on this DVD is the Fire/core one, so don’t rush into doing it until you are ready and remember that yoga doesn’t judge one’s abilities- let your body be your guide and remember that what you can do easily one day, might feel challenging or not achievable on another day-all of this is fine and means that you are listening to what your body is telling you ).
Before we finished our conversation, I asked Tara if there is anything one can do to compliment the effect of this practise. Tara paused, thinking about it and said that things vary as much as seasons do. Very often how we feel not only relates to whether you have slept well the night before for example, but also what your diet is like. If you feel hot and bothered and fired up, it’s good to avoid spicy foods, trying to have cooling foods like cucumber or yogurt instead. If you feel slightly lethargic or cold, have grains or spices like cayenne pepper or ginger. Tara added that she tends to drink a fresh juice or a smoothie after the practice or alternatively, herbal tea or water and one of her magic ingredients to integrate into your diet is spirulina, which is full of nutrients and green goodness.
‘Elements of Yoga: Earth foundation with Tara Lee’, £10.99, 95 mins, New Shoot Pictures