|Born||Tara Leann Stiles
May 6, 1981
Morris, Illinois, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Michael Taylor (2008–present)|
|Height||5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)|
Tara Leann Stiles (born May 6, 1981) is an American model turned yoga instructor and founder of Strala Yoga in New York City. She starred in Yoga For, the first instructional on-line yoga video series, produced by Ford Models. Vanity Fair reported on a yoga video that Stiles specifically designed for Sarah Palin; the Vanity Fair reporter commented that "Tara Stiles has got to be the coolest yoga instructor ever." Stiles is also the personal yoga instructor to Deepak Chopra, with whom she collaborated to create Authentic Yoga for the iPhone.
Stiles grew up outside Morris, Illinois. Her mother designed, without any professional experience, their passive solar home and built it together with her father, now retired from a career in nuclear power. She has one sibling, an elder brother, Chad, who is an electrician.
After graduation she studied dance in Chicago, where one of her ballet instructors introduced her to yoga. A local photographer brought her to Marie Anderson Boyd, founder of Aria Models in Chicago, later acquired by Ford Models, who signed her on the spot. Boyd booked Stiles' first casting, an ad campaign for Coca-Cola, and She moved to New York City soon after. She eventually realized that modeling was not what she was truly interested in. When Ford asked her to start making short promotional yoga videos for the agency and post them to YouTube, it was the beginning of her current career. She took a 200-hour course to become a certified instructor, and continues to make the videos, which have drawn over twenty million views.
Stiles was one of the first yoga instructors to use social media to attract students. The YouTube videos led a DVD with fellow model Brooklyn Decker as well as one of her own, Yoga Anywhere: The New York Session. After leaving Ford and modeling in 2007, she blogged for Women's Health and The Huffington Post (HuffPo).
A 2009 post at HuffPo entitled "Help! I'm Addicted to FaceBook", has received 1.2 million hits, making it one of the most-viewed blogs on the site. Stiles's first book, Slim Calm Sexy, published by Rodale, rose to the #1 spot on Amazon.com and best-selling status the first week it was released, August 31, 2010.
Stiles has been featured in pictorials for W, Shape Magazine, Self, Marie Claire, Fitness, and appeared on the covers of Shape, Time Out, and Fit Yoga. Stiles appeared in ads for Nike, Adidas, Reebok, Target Corporation, Gap and American Apparel, as well as numerous TV commercials for the Chrysler PT Cruiser and Avon. Stiles' health and yoga related work has been featured in such magazines as Esquire, Mens Health, Ascent, and Yoga Journal.
Stiles has been the Face of Women's Health, a Rodale, Inc. publication, from April 2009 through April 2011. Stiles was also a spokesperson for Nissan Motors, along with Ryan Hall and Lance Armstrong.
In 2008 Stiles met her husband, Michael Taylor, at the Ananda Ashram in Monroe, New York. "He was normal, he's straight, he does yoga ... I'm done for", she joked. After a civil ceremony in New York, they honeymooned in Negril, Jamaica.
The couple founded the New York City yoga studio Strala later that year. They made up the name, which is Swedish for "radiates light". In addition to continuing to make her videos and other media appearances, she currently teaches a quarter of the classes and oversees 13 other instructors at the 3,500 square feet (330 m2) studio, which has become profitable enough for her to consider opening a branch. Deepak Chopra and Jane Fonda are among her students; the former considers her his personal instructor. "I have been doing yoga for 30 years," he says. "I have had teachers of all kinds. Taking lessons from her has been more useful to me than taking yoga from anyone else."
Stiles does not follow any school of yoga or instructor and focuses purely on its physical aspects and health benefits, with no philosophical or spiritual dimension. She eschews the Sanskrit names for yoga positions and does not ask students to chant. She hires instructors without regard to the certification process normally required elsewhere, preferring to assess them by watching them teach, although Strala does offer a teacher-training program. Strala's per-class fee, $10, is lower than other Manhattan yoga studios.
Her goal is to make yoga more accessible. "People need yoga, not another religious leader. Quite often in New York, they want to be religious leaders, and it's not useful", she explains. "I was never invited to the party anyway—so I started my own party". Too many people outside yoga, she believes, see it as "something Jennifer Aniston does". Fonda has praised "her ability to make yoga accessible to people who might be scared of it or think it might be too esoteric". Stiles says she receives letters regularly from people, such as military men, who do her videos but are afraid to go to a yoga studio. "This studio is the first place I have felt comfortable", one Strala student told The New York Times. "It doesn't feel like it's all 26-year-old former dancers."
Stiles' approach to yoga has met with some controversy in the yoga community. Jennilyn Carson of the popular YogaDork blog reports that some practitioners consider it "disrespect to what the practice is" for Stiles to promote it as a weight-loss method. "I don't care what Tara Stiles says yoga is," another yogini says. "It's not about making your body beautiful." Yoga traditionalists have also complained about her willingness to draw on her modeling background and exploit sex appeal in yoga-wear advertisements and her videos, some of which she has appeared in wearing short shorts and a tank top. "Who made these rules?", Stiles has responded. "I feel like I'm standing up for yoga." To critics of her videos and photo shoots, she says, "We should not be hiding behind our bodies. [They] should be empowering."
Strala launched as a style of yoga in 2010 and began holding Ready-to-Lead and Intensive Training programs at its headquarters in NYC, and around the world. A list of graduated Guides is listed on Strala's site for reference.
Stiles and Strala partnered with Millennium Partners Sports Club Management LLC to bring Strala STRONG and Strala RELAX classes to all Millennium Clubs in 2013. The partnership marks the first branded yoga ever to be on schedule in a club chain.
Strala Yoga is available in 18,000 schools in partnership with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.
Stiles partnered with Reebok to design and launch Reebok Yoga in 2012. The first collection launched with Spring / Summer 2013. The range is available in select Nordstroms, Harrod's, Royal Sports, Rebel Sports, boutiques and studios, as well as Reebok retail stores, Reebok FitHubs, and on Reebok's e-commerce site. Stiles is closely involved with the design team and travels the world to support the range in each market. Reebok sends its "brand ambassadors" through Stiles' Strala Intensive Programs, to help with brand awareness and support.
Stiles is an avid knitter and collaborated with Wool and the Gang on a yoga-street wear line, featuring ready-to-wear, as well as knit kits, designed by Wool and the Gang and Tara Stiles, featuring the "Tara Stiles" label on the garments.
Stiles collaborated with Demand media to produce a documentary, Heartland Yogi, which she visits her home town and throws a Yoga Day. Stiles also produced with Demand Media a short film she wrote originally titled, "Escape from Yoga Camp", named, "Totally Enlightened." for LiveStrong Woman channel.
Stiles has collaborated on DVD projects with Jane Fonda, Deepak Chopra, Brooklyn Decker, Tia Mowry and created the best selling DVD series This is Yoga, translated in 3 languages and available in every country.
Stiles was a contestant and winner of MTV's Fear episode 9, "Fort Gains". She has also appeared in Matthew Barney's The Cremaster Cycle: Cremester 3. She co-hosted three segments on  on fitness and fashion with Pedro Andrade, Siafa Lewis, and Margherita Missoni.
- Tara Stiles at the Internet Movie Database
- Vanity Fair coverage of Tara Stiles
- Alvarez, Lisette (January 23, 2011). "Rebel Yoga". The New York Times. Retrieved January 24, 2011.
- Stiles, Tara (February 15, 2009). "Help! I'm Addicted to Facebook". The Huffington Post. Retrieved January 24, 2011.
- "Master the Shift"
- "Krishna Das"
- Wolfson, Alisa (17 August 2008). "Stiles, 27, and Taylor, 34". New York Post. Retrieved 1 March 2010.
- Tara Stiles at the Internet Movie Database
- Tara Stiles at the Fashion Model Directory
- Tara Stiles on iTunes
- Tara Stiles
- Tara Stiles on Twitter
- Tara Stiles Video Interview on TDL Profiles