Tara Stiles is not only a valuable contributor to MBG, but also a dear friend and a yoga rock star. She's got a lot going on these days, and she gives us the inside scoop on Deepak Chopra, her new DVD, and more!
MBG: What's it like working and doing yoga with Deepak Chopra?
TS: Deepak is super playful, easy going, and very "in the moment." He loves Warrior II. He says it makes him feel energized. When we were shooting the cover he really wanted to do Warrior II but they went with this cool shot of him standing looking awesome. When we're going through a class he is a natural at "finding the ease," something we emphasize at Strala. A lot of people push and force their bodies into poses with yoga. It causes stress and tension, and that's not really the point. When you find the ease, as Deepak does so naturally, your body will be able to accomplish a much grater range of strength and flexibility, and simultaneously the mind can travel further inward. When people muscle their way through poses and force things to happen the mind tenses. Life is a reflection of how you practice. Yoga is the place to practice! Yoga is a moving meditation and Deepak totally gets that in a really fun and approachable way.
Some people say that you can't build strength and lose weight with yoga -- why is this such a big misconception?
I'm hoping we are coming to the end of the calorie counting, diet foods, and the portion control era. Yoga reminds us to pay attention to how we feel whether we are doing a Warrior II or preparing lunch. Diets never work because they work from the outside in. With yoga, you are becoming inspired and neurologically rewired to move towards treating yourself well. Physiological barriers fade and we simply go after what we need to be healthy. Your vagus nerve stretches from deep within the brain stem all the way into your belly. Vagus means wanderer. The nerve wanders through the body carrying impulses, winding its way up through the abdomen, diaphragm, and chest, up the neck outside the spinal cord, and into the brain. It's the literal stuff that makes up the mind/body connection. Vagus nerve stimulation therapy has been used by doctors by surgically implanting a pacemaker-like device into people's chest. It has been used for clinical depression and epilepsy treatment. Fortunately, we stimulate the vagus nerve naturally with yoga. Mindful, very long, deep breaths do the trick. Re-wire your brain and your bad eating habits are swapped for good ones naturally.
On the strictly physical side of the practice, a regular routine of yoga is fantastic for strengthening and toning your entire body. It's the best and only workout you'll every need. People who practice a lot of yoga are in crazy fantastic shape and radiate health and vitality.
Can yoga still be spiritual while you're building strength, energy, balance and losing weight?
Of course. We are whole beings - body, mind, and spirit. Thinking our bodies are not "us" is an error. Respecting our bodies with a regular yoga practice is about as spiritual as you can get.
What are some of your favorite poses for energy?
For energy I love any pose that's standing and takes up space, like Warrior II, Warrior III, and Dancer's pose. For a pick me up, Shoulder Stand is the queen of all poses. It improves circulation, blood flow to the brain, reboots the nervous system and leaves us feeling great.
Why should everyone be doing yoga? And why do newbies need to run out and pick up the series?
Want to feel fantastic, be radiantly healthy, and happy for a very long and vibrant life? Want to be able to access your highest potential, have the energy to follow your creativity and passions, and direct access to your intuition? Do yoga every day. The instruction and routines on Yoga Transformation are great for newbies. I use direct instruction to keep everyone safe while getting a great workout.
What's next for you? What else are you working on?
Trying to keep balanced for sure! Yoga Cures is coming out in April which I'm super excited to share more about how yoga cures and prevents pretty much everything and makes us able to be at ease with what it doesn't. The Strala training program is launching in March. It's been a long time coming and very exciting. There are a few other top secret adventures that I'll be able to share soon too :)