01 August 2013

How can I help? Meeting Tara Stiles & Mike Taylor and Learning Strala

This blog post is a bit different than usual, but some things just make you break the rules.

A few weeks ago, I had the amazing experience of meeting my yoga idol, Tara Stiles, at the beautiful Love Yoga studio in Albany.

I found Tara last Fall, when I was looking to begin practicing at home after getting back into yoga over the past couple of years.  I found her DVD set and then a 7 minute YouTube video and thought, "Who is this casual girl doing yoga in a New York loft like it's no big deal?"

Well, I bought the DVDs, began practicing her sequences via YouTube and was soon hooked.  There was just something about her style that was different, and that made my home practice open into something creative, empowering, and fun.  So, when I had the chance to not only meet but train with her, how could I pass it up?

I have to admit, when I first met Tara, it took me a minute not be starstruck, but not that long because, simply put, she is the real deal.  What a treat, to meet someone you admire and have them look at you with clear eyes, hand all that admiration back, and ask "And how are you?"

Tara is a real person, a really kind, funny, genuine person who has taken her gifts and gives of her knowledge and expertise without expecting or wanting you to become a follower or devotee.  She and Mike have tapped into some truths about 'helping' that are often missed by those of us 'professionals.'

My favorite of these: asking "How can I help?" rather than "What can I prove."

Strala, the style of yoga that they have created in New York City, is a movement based system that seeks to connect each person to themselves.  There is minimal instruction beyond movement and breath guidance; no lectures, insights, or corrections.  Rather there is laughter, encouragement, and fun.  And continued emphasis on being relaxed so you can breathe and move like a wave in the ocean.

Mike and Tara talk about how your own breath should set the pace of the experience, and the result is a class or experience that leaves you feeling refreshed, empowered, strong and smiling. Strala encourages the person moving to not only be responsible for their own experience, but tells them that they are the expert on themselves.

Our medical establishment struggles with this idea, seeking instead to offer expertise and advice.  Strala is a conscious response to this disempowering and fundamentally unsuccessful approach to healing and health.  Strala is a mind-body medicine that guides you into your own body, so that you can listen and act accordingly.

While Tara is a trained ballerina who found her passion in yoga, Mike is trained in medicine and martial arts.  Together they seek to create a style of yoga that heals body and mind through ease in movement and connection to breath and inner self.  I think they're doing quite a good job.  Obviously.

Hopefully I will soon begin my journey towards guiding Strala here in Portland.  I cannot wait to share all of this with others.  It's yoga party time.

Tara has a ton of free or minimal cost videos available on YouTube, full classes via the Strala website, and through her DVD set This Is Yoga ($20).  She and Mike have also just launched a full instruction course for Strala, available via MindBodyGreen.  If you live in Portland and love Strala, let's get in touch!!
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