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Q&A with Tara Stiles: Yoga Instructor to Deepak Chopra

Posted Jan 24 2011 3:40pm

By Barbara Ficarra, RN, BSN, MPA

“When your mind starts to wander to your thoughts try to guide your attention back to your breath. This is the practice. Our thoughts will probably never disappear, but we can become more aware of them and guide our focus back to our breath.” -Tara Stiles

Tara Stiles, my colleague at The Huffington Post , and author of “Slim Calm Sexy,” star of “Yoga Anywhere” DVD series, yoga expert for Women’s Health magazine, personal yoga instructor to Deepak Chopra, and founder of Strala Yoga in New York City which provides an authentic form of yoga that clears the body and mind; gives spectacular answers to simple questions on yoga.

Yoga is great for the mind body and soul. According to the Mayo Clinic, yoga is good to help relieve stress and helps you relax. “Yoga brings together physical and mental disciplines to achieve peacefulness of body and mind, helping you relax and manage stress and anxiety .”

Yoga is “your best health care plan,” says Stiles.

Q:  (Barbara)

If you’re just starting out — how many times a week should you begin with? Are classes usually 30 minutes? 60 minutes? What’s average?

A:  (Tara)

If you can start out going to a class twice a week that’s a nice amount to get into the swing of things. When you feel comfortable with the class and the studio that you like working towards three times a week will build and sustain a strong and healthy body and mind. Classes are anywhere from average 60-90 minutes. Every studio is different. Often morning and noon classes are a bit shorter.

Q:  (Barbara)

What do you need to get moving? What should every yoga person have? A mat? What is the best type of work out clothes to wear? Do you need certain sneakers or will you be bare feet?

A:  (Tara)

All you need is lose, comfortable clothes, like a t-shirt, or tank top, and lose pants or shorts. Some studios have mats but you might want to have your own so you can practice at home also. Jade makes good mats. They are made of rubber and don’t slip. You’ll be bare feet also.

A:  (Barbara)

If a person isn’t flexible — if he or she can’t contort themselves into some of the yoga moves — what should they do? Will yoga increase their flexibility?

A:  (Tara)

Yoga builds strength and flexibility equally. Most poses have modifications so let the teacher know you are new and they’ll hopefully take care of you and show you how to modify the class for you. If you are overwhelmed in a class ever, rest in child’s pose until you can come back into the flow. It’s good to remember that there is always a harder and crazier pose that you won’t be able to do, so that makes everything sort of irrelevant. Just stay with your breath and go where your body will allow you to. The more you breathe, the more things will open up. Pushing and forcing makes things tighter.

Q:  (Barbara)

How do you focus during yoga? What are some tips to keep your mind at ease?   How do you keep it from wondering? How do you forget about your “to-do list” — How do you maintain focus?

A:  (Tara)

When your mind starts to wander to your thoughts try to guide your attention back to your breath. This is the practice. Our thoughts will probably never disappear, but we can become more aware of them and guide our focus back to our breath.

Q:  (Barbara)

What are 3 basic yoga moves?

A:  (Tara)

Down Dog: You’ll be seeing a lot of this one in yoga class. It’s the basic go-to pose great for building strength and flexibility.

Child’s pose: The ultimate resting position.

Tree Pose: Standing on one foot with the other pressing into your upper thigh. It’s basic, but always challenging.

Q:  (Barbara)

What are 3 yoga moves that are good for your back?

A:  (Tara)

All easy twists are great for your back. Boat pose and other poses that strengthen your abs prevent back pain so don’t forget to strengthen your core!

Q:  (Barbara)

What are 3 yoga moves that are good for your mind?

A:  (Tara)

All poses are good for your mind. No matter what your body is doing, the work is to keep your attention on the breath, not chasing after thoughts. This practice allows the chatter of our thoughts to settle and clears the way for intuition and awareness to emerge.

Q:  (Barbara)

Does yoga build muscle and will it build your strength? Does it burn many calories?

A:  (Tara)

Depends on the style you are practicing and how challenging it is for you. A physically challenging yoga class is the only workout you’ll need. Lots of our students at Strala are former gym members and devotees of personal trainers. They realized that our classes build strength, flexibility, and burn more calories than their gym workouts. Another benefit of yoga is that you feel great instantly after a good class and you find yourself wanting to keep that good feeling and start making better food and life choices.

Q:  (Barbara)

If you had to describe the feeling you get from yoga in 30 words or less — what would it be?

A:  (Tara)

Yoga is a practice that shows us who we are and what we can become. All we have to do is practice, and keep practicing.

Q:  (Barbara)

Yoga is…

A:  (Tara)

Your best health care plan.

Your Turn

We would love to hear from you.  Is yoga part of your healthy lifestyle?  Are you a beginner?  What do you love about yoga?  What tips do you have that could help encourage people to begin yoga?

As always, thank you for your time.

Barbara Ficarra on The Huffington Post .

Follow Barbara on Twitter .

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