Ashtanga, Bikram, Hatha, Iyengar – yes ladies (and gentleman of course) I’m talking about our dear friend yoga! If like me, you’ve been slightly confused by the plethora of different yoga styles on offer (and there are lots) there’s one thing we can all agree on; whatever style you choose, yoga combines strength, flexibility, breathing techniques and comes with the added bonus of boosting our physical and mental wellbeing – what’s not to like about that?
It should therefore come as no surprise that there are millions of people worldwide currently practising yoga in one form or another, and yes I’m one of them! Everyone has an opinion of what the focus of yoga should be, some focus on the physical and health aspects and others the spiritual and philosophical. As with all of my workout regimes, I prefer the pick a mix approach and like to choose what’s right for me. So imagine my excitement when I heard that Tara Stiles (who in my opinion has the most refreshing and unpretentious approach to yoga to date) was in the UK. Not only that, but she was going to be teaching a one off Strala yoga class at the Reebok FitHub King’s Road, in London. Where do I sign up!
Tara Stiles is the founder and owner of Strala, the movement system that ignites freedom. She has a host of videos, aptly named “yoga rebel” which are available on her YouTube channel which show you how to do yoga, anytime and anyplace. She is a collaborator with Reebok and works closely with the design team on their Reebok Yoga lifestyle range, and has authored several top-selling books. She has been profiled by The New York Times, Times of India, The Times (UK), and featured in most major national and international magazines. And on top of all that, she’s partnered up with Reebok as part of their #BreakYourSelfie campaign which I’ve been following with great interest over the last few months. The list goes on and as an expert in her field, this was a class I needed to try.
After securing a spot, I bounced, yes bounced, out of bed and took my place on a jam packed rush hour train and headed towards London Victoria. It may have been cold, it may have been wet, it may have been a Monday morning, but if ever there was an incentive to move with a spring in my step, this was going to be it!
Frankly, I was not disappointed. With a room filled with like-minded yoga enthusiasts we flowed through posture after posture, with music blaring through the speakers, which some would say is unconventional but I found totally invigorating. Tara’s approach was refreshing, she walked around the studio as we dipped into a series of freestyle sun salutes. She demonstrated the trickier poses and allowed us to move through each posture at our own pace. Although there was never any pressure to push to our extreme, I found myself working to my maximum output. Outside, onlookers pressed their noses against the shop window (probably wondering what on earth we were doing) but quite frankly I was too busy to notice. I was totally immersed in the yoga experience and quite frankly, when all was said and done, I was left wanting more. With a spring in my step I was ready to start my week, If only every morning could start this way…
Having been a devoted yoga enthusiast for many years, I always try to find time to fit a class (or two if I’m lucky) into my weekly workout routine. I’ve seen huge improvements in my strength, flexibility, posture and muscle tone as a result of practising yoga. It definitely seems to compliment my cardio and strength workouts by making me feel longer, leaner and fitter in every sense of the word. However, I’ve also discovered a happy by-product of my yoga practise; it has given me the opportunity to focus on, well nothing. Yes you heard me correctly! When I do yoga, my focus is completely on the moves I’m performing. When I’m moving mindfully, there is complete coordination between my body and mind. It allows me immerse myself in the present moment so I can totally indulge my mind without the usual daily overload of worries and to do lists coming into play. For two whole hours I can take time that’s just for me and I love it! It makes me feel, dare I say it, enlightened! I know, I know; but seriously it works!
Yoga’s popularity continues to grow and its place in the 21st Century fitness world has been well and truly cemented into the landscape of gyms and fitness centres throughout the world. Some would argue that this boom has been inspired by the scores of celebrities who have taken to the mat, thus promoting the huge health and toning benefits of this ancient system; but for me it’s personal.
Tara is currently partnered with Reebok as part of the #BreakYourSelfie campaign. The movement is a rebellious social campaign with the aim to challenge the notion of what beauty is as part of Reebok’s pursuit for us to all ‘Be More Human’. #BreakYourSelfie encourages fitness enthusiasts to rebel against the millions of shiny, happy selfies and instead post images to of themselves at their most depleted, raw, broken post-workout state using the hashtag.