The anti-yogi becomes a (semi) yogi

 

For years, I didn't get yoga. My mum took it up when I was an early teen, but at that age I had triumphantly taken up 'modern and contemporary dance' (sad but true). I loved it - bouncy stretches to the Top Gun or Footloose soundtrack, high kicks and pivot turns across the studio - I was obsessed. Enjoy one of my favourite dance tunes below. 

 

I've come back to yoga a few times over the past 10 years but I always found it too slow compared to dance ... the music was too 'Enya-esque' ... and the best I could manage was a a Body Balance class around twice a year. 

Once I started lifting weights with HLC, I found my previous flexibility disappeared fairly quickly. I could barely touch my toes anymore and thanks to being tall as a child (and totally embarrassed by that), my bad posture and tight chest muscles were getting worse and worse. 

I can't remember how I first discovered Tara Stiles, but now I can't imagine my days without her. Tara used to be a model but followed her love of yoga and meditation. She owns a yoga studio in NYC, Strala, that I hope to make it to one day. The Strala form of yoga is now taught all over the world and Tara is so real and at ease in her life.

Every morning (almost) for the last six months, I've risen 10 minutes early to do one of her YouTube videos. And there is no shortage. Search whatever you're feeling: 'Tara Stiles morning yoga', 'Tara Stiles energy', 'Tara Stiles sore arms'. However I feel in the morning, Tara's got something for me. It makes such a difference to my outlook and following her blog and Instagram send me little reminders from her world throughout the day.

I think yoga with Tara has clicked for me as she moves quite quickly through the poses (it's no Flashdance but you get my drift) and she's very big on not forcing movement, just 'moving into open spaces'. I've noticed an increase in flexibility, a love of yoga that's had me turning up to classes (including a beach yoga class during a holiday last week) and a more serene frame of mind.

beach yoga_.jpg

One of my favourite 'Tara phrases' gives me a pleasant prompt a few mornings a week. Bleary eyed, I'll be moving through the poses and she'll instruct us to take a deep breath raising our arms above our head, then bring our hands in front of our chest into prayer pose. As Tara says, 'Plug your fingers up into your heartbeat and see if you can feel your heart pumping for you.' This is truly grounding and a wonderful flash of gratitude in the morning.