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An Email Exchange With...yoga and fitness phenomenon, Tara Stiles
December 4th 2015
The yoga expert and Reebok ambassador gave us an inspirational insight into her day; from what’s cooking for work lunch to what she does first thing in the morning to the secrets of her gym bag...
How does a yoga phenom stay fit, fuelled and motivated? We caught up with the inspirational Tara Stiles to find out.
As founder and owner of global fitness program, Strala, her motivating and down-to-earth style has won fans the world over, and having taken part in one of her yoga classes personally, it’s easy to see why. It also makes her the perfect fit for the role of Reebok ambassador and collaborator for the brand’s latest collections, (who better after all to help craft the essential fitness it-kit than a world-class yoga expert?)
Having lectured to sold out audiences (including at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women’s Conference), a new ‘Make Your Own Rules Cookbook,’ out at the moment and a new Reebok range out in January, Tara has fast become of one of the most sought-after names in fitness. How does she juggle it all and make her working day work for her? We found out from the woman herself.
GTG: Hit the snooze button or up-and-at-em?
When I’m in NYC, I’m up at 6.30 to have a bit of time at home for meditation, breakfast and getting ready for the day before heading over to the studio and office. When I’m on the road, usually I’m lucky and get to teach a super cool sunrise yoga class, or morning event. I’ve for sure become a morning person over the years. It’s been an evolution. When I was dancing, it was an opposite schedule. Company class started at 11am followed by a break and rehearsals. Shows are at night and there is usually some celebration and receptions at night. For me, it’s not about favouring the morning or night; it’s more about wanting to be vibrant and effective in my lifestyle.
GTG: Best piece of work advice you ever had?
TS: Work efficiently.
Friends and people who I’ve met who see my hectic schedule have told me for the last few years that I work too much. I know it’s true but there is always so much to do and so much that I’m excited to build. I didn’t really pay much attention to the advice until our shiatsu healer and faculty member of Strala told me the same thing. He could see it in my body and that made me listen. I now schedule time for meditation, practice, down time and fun, so when I’m working, I’m productive and not frazzled, and crazy enough, not always working.
GTG: Name three things in your working week you love doing
TS: Practicing yoga, being with people and writing books.
My favourite place to be when I’m in NYC is at Strala. Our office is right next door, so I’m on rotation during the days of teaching; practicing and being in the office. So many great people come through each day and it’s awesome to get the chance to connect and be a part of a happy moment in people’s days. Writing is a big part of my life as well. I’ve finally admitted to myself it’s something I’ll do for my whole life. My next book is always the next, and never the last. It’s such a cathartic philosophic practice for me, I equate it with meditation. Reading on a variety of topics and the classics is another obsession that keeps my grounding and perspective fresh.
GTG: What do you do every day before breakfast?
TS: I spend 5 minutes meditating in bed.
Honestly, this habit began as a simple suggestion I’d give to people who asked me how to get started in creating healthy habits and a lifestyle that included yoga. I really wanted to help people actually desire to practise, and eat well - not to just do it because they know it’s good for them. Sitting up in bed and connecting with the breath habit first thing in the morning is a fantastic and simple practice anyone can do that actually puts you in the mood to take care of yourself well. With this simple meditation, you train your brain to crave mindfulness, healthy habits, and essentially desire the things that are good for you.
GTG: What do you love about your job?
TS: I created it myself!
I was always such a firestarter since a kid, creating my own path, forming big ideas and questioning why things are done the way they are done. I was always looking for a better solution to pretty much anything from school; to my dance training, to recycling - a habit my parents got us involved in. I saw so much opportunity to improve the world and how we are in it. When I figured out that this time in history was perfect for a big improvement in yoga and living well, I started creating and never looked back.
GTG: What’s cooking for work lunch?
TS: If I’m on-the-go I’ll make a smoothie as a snack and take time for a bigger meal later on. Spinach, banana and almond milk – a green dream smoothie.
I love cooking at home; anything from baked veggies in quinoa or pasta, to giant salads with toast and avocado. I’ve gotten into eating more eggs recently - soft boiling them in salads or scrambled eggs on toast gives me a good amount of energy for the day.
GTG: How do you stay organised?
TS: I don’t!
I do the best I can with my schedule, but if I’m going to be honest, I never feel completely organised. I stay sane by having priorities of what needs to be done, scheduling time for working on projects and time for organising so I have a free headspace to be creative. I care more about open space in my mind than having everything on my list checked off.
GTG: Describe your working style in 3 words
TS: Focused, determined, direct.
GTG: What's always in your gym bag?
TS: I love my Reebok Scenic Print pants, £35. I always have something I can practice yoga in and often a pair of jeans and a sweater or something simple for non-yoga mode. Snacks are essential with my schedule, so I’m always carrying around things to sustain my energy, from nuts to Kind bars to a green juice or smoothie. I always have a notebook in my bag depending on the day. I don’t like to miss the moment of writing down any ideas. I always use comp books from the drugstore.
GTG: Worst job you ever had?
TS: I had to be a girl who sprayed perfume at a department store once. The micro-culture of fur coats and wearing your money to the expense of the planet isn’t something I felt too comfortable immersing myself in.
GTG: Notepad or i-notes?
I use both every day, but have always loved notepads to write down quick thoughts, ideas and inspirations.
GTG: The best piece of fitness motivation that you could give people?
TS: It doesn’t work if you don’t do it.
We all know living a healthy lifestyle involves a daily practice of eating well, thinking well and moving well. The first and most important thing to do is to begin with this every day. Having a regular healthy routine that you enjoy doing is important to keep at. If you don’t love a certain fitness modality, find another that you enjoy and you’ll probably stick to it.
GTG: Could you tell us about your new cookbook and latest Reebok collection? What can we expect?
TS: Make Your Own Rules Cookbook, £18.99, is a collection of recipes from friends and family around the world and my own kitchen creations. I travel a lot and I’ve made friends from a lot of super interesting places. It’s amazing to see how similar we all are in our desire to eat well and nourish those we care about with healthy foods. The book has recipes from all around the world made simple to make, super delicious, and healthy as well.
The current Reebok collection is super compelling and cozy as always. I can’t believe it’s been since Spring 2013 already. It’s incredible to see how everyone is loving the collection around the world. We’ve taken a ton of risks including fun pieces like rainbow leggings inspired by leg warmers my grandmother made, to space mountain leggings and jumpers for this Fall. Next season is a mix of a nod to the street art explosion combined with some quirky and cozy patterns of inspiration I couldn’t stop dreaming about from a trip to Tokyo. I think it’s important to blend two strong concepts that complement each other for each season to create a visually compelling story. The design team at Reebok has done a fantastic job of evolving the range. It’s a fun process to collaborate together.