Yoga is a Hindu spiritual discipline aimed at training the consciousness for the state of spiritual insight and tranquillity. It includes breath control, meditation and a system of exercises practiced as part of this discipline to promote control of the body and mind.There are different types of yoga and you should choose one that suits your personality, as well as level of fitness.
In late autumn I was asked to review a four DVD set by Tara Stiles. I have been practising yoga on and off for about 12 years now and generally choose my yoga instructors or yoga classes a bit more carefully, having tried different types and knowing what types of yoga suit me, my personality and my body.
Strala Yoga was developed by Tara and according to her it is ‘a mediative movement based system that connects people inward, so they can find their own path to healing and happiness by means of using their intuition and awareness, simultaneously building strength and capability, creating space for expansion’.
‘Tara Stiles: This is Yoga’ is a four DVD set which ‘is the quintessential yoga encyclopedia’ that is going to be useful to you whether you are a yoga beginner or are advanced in your practise. Tara doesn’t believe in exclusivity of yoga and thinks that everyone should try it, finding their own pace. She covers every aspect of yoga from movement to bulding strength to helping you feel more relaxed and content with your place in this world.
I asked Tara what’s the best way to use this DVD set, if I try to practise yoga a few times a week? She suggested incorporating a few gentle routines and a few stronger ones each week, so in time and with regular practise you will feel well rounded and feeling great. ‘There is no reason to have a rest day with yoga’.
Tara explained that DVDs was filmed’ all over California-on a Malibu beach, LA rooftops, hotel rooms, a cool warehouse, near a Joshua tree. It’s important to be inspired while you are practising and an obvious choice was to find the most stimulating and exciting locations possible to help people connect inward’.
My initial though, when I received a DVD set was ‘wow, how clever’ and with every practise, guided by Tara I felt calmer and more energetic. She sounds little strict and yet as your practise goes on and movements become more fluid, you start feeling an inner bond with her, even though she is not physically present by your side.
DVD One: Daily Yoga for Everyone comprises both a Strong Flow practise ( 60 minutes, filmed in a derelict warehouse, with sun shining through a skyline and forming a very focal point where Tara does yoga. You look at a slim, tall girl whose strong energy propels you forward on your yogic journey through challenging poses ), to help you improve your core strength, help to loose weigh and improve balance, as well as a Relax Flow ( 30 minutes, filmed on the balcony of the Standard hotel ) that focuses on helping you to distress, restore your peace of mind and rejuvenate your body.
Tara is a very graceful young woman but she has a strong core and her instructions are confident. What makes her teaching style work so well is that she always offers you the options, depending on your level.
DVD Two: Beginners Yoga for Everyone: you can do this DVD any time it suits you and it certainly is a perfect one if you are a newbie to the yoga practise. Try a Gentle Flow ( 30 mins ) that will teach you to combine the breath with building strength in your body and improve your flexibility or the Calming Night Time Flow ( 50 mins shot on the roof of a NY high-rise, as the sun goes down ) that will allow you to clear your head from work or a constant flow of thought, as well as release tension from a busy day or a stressful situation. I love this section as it grounds me and makes me feel more in control of my life. If you are feeling too tired, then go for the 15 minute Relaxed and Easy Going Flow that focuses on opening up your hips and legs, as well as focusing your mind ( it also is great post flying, when your body might be feeling confused by jet lag ).
DVD Three: AM/PM Yoga for Everyone offers you a gentle total body flow that re-balances your energy, focuses your mind and strengthens all the muscle groups. Try building up your practise with the five minute Morning Flow ( it was a revelation to me, as generally I get off the bed, brush my teeth and shower, before I am ready to do any sport practise-you just sit on your cosy bed, in your chosen attire and allow your body to wake up gently, releasing the sleepy muscles and getting your ready for a day ahead-somehow this short practise does make me feel energised for the rest of the day ). You can also choose from a 60 minute Energising and Strong Flow ( shot on the roof-top, next to power lines and a busy bridge ), 15 minutes of Daily Basic Flow ( it is being said that you are better off to do yoga daily, even if it’s only five or 15 minutes, rather than 60 minutes once a week-the effect tends to be cumulative and your body responds to it better, feeling less stressed and wired and more in balance-a calm mind and balanced body ) and finish the day with the five minute Bed Time Flow ( particularly suited to restless people or people who have trouble falling asleep ).
I actually asked Tara why she would recommend to have a regular yoga practise? Her reply was very upbeat: ‘ Do you want to feel fantastic all of the time? Have more energy, mental clarity and focus, reverse the ageing process, have glowing skin, deep connection to your intuition and have a ridiculously strong, lean body? That’s what regular yoga practise ( with ease ) can offer you”.
DVD Four: Complete Yoga Library for Everyone is perfect for anyone curious about yoga, from the beginner, dipping the toe in this practise to the advanced yogee, who wants to learn more or improve one’s knowledge. You can learn about 120 poses, including: –seated, –standing ones, –sun salutations, –arm balances, –inversions, –back bends, –reclining ones. Tara is very knowledgeable but she speaks and shows the poses so you can make sure that you know or do the moves correctly, thus preventing any injury in the future. Simple and to the point.
As a bonus you also have a Joshua Tree routine that was shot in the dessert and which focuses on the natural strength.
I have been lucky to experience a class taught by Tara during the Yoga Show in London which I thoroughly enjoyed. She talks to her class, making suggestions and correcting your poses. She seems a little vulnerable at times, as she invites you to join in, to share your energy and to learn new things about yourself and your bodily capabilities. There is no rush, no competitiveness, just fluid, comfortable movements, laced with great music and an instructor who stands on her own and somehow offers you the experience that makes you feel complete.
What makes this yoga DVD set special is that Tara offers different dimensions of the same person, in places that would suit your mood and energy depending on your workload, stress level or time of the day. Tara couldn’t have put it better when she said that ‘living with purpose is the whole point of practising yoga’. How about making it your New Year resolution?
Tara Stiles This Is Yoga, 379 minutes total running time, £34.99 for a four DVD set via Amazon UK
or for more information about Tara, Strala Yoga, Tara’s videos, blog and events, go to www.tarastiles.com