Tara Stiles

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Tara Stiles
Tara StilesSteveShaw (cropped).jpg
Tara Leann Stiles

OccupationStrala CEO
Modeling information
Height5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)

Tara Leann Stiles is an American model turned yoga instructor and founder of Strala Yoga in New York City. Stiles grew Strala from one studio based in the SoHo neighborhood of New York City to a studio and training business with currently over 1,000 instructors (called Guides) leading classes in 15 countries regularly to thousands of people weekly. Harvard did a case study on Stiles' business titled The Branding of Yoga,[1] which uses Stiles as a case study in branding.

In 2007, Tara starred in Yoga For, produced by Ford Models. Vanity Fair reported on a yoga video that Stiles specifically designed for Sarah Palin; the "Vanity Fair" reporter commented, "Tara Stiles has got to be the coolest yoga instructor ever."[2]

Early life[edit]

Stiles grew up outside of the Chicago Metropolitan area, in Morris, Illinois. Her parents designed their passive solar home, helped by the fact her father worked at a nuclear plant.[3] She has one sibling, an older brother, Chad, who is an electrician.


Stiles 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. Ford asked her to make short promotional yoga videos for the agency and post them to YouTube. She took a 200-hour course to become a certified instructor, and continues to make the videos, which have drawn over twenty million views.[3][failed verification]

Stiles was one of the first yoga instructors to use social media to attract students.[citation needed] The YouTube videos led to 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).[citation needed]

A 2009 post at HuffPo entitled "Help! I'm Addicted to Facebook",[4] has received 1.2 million hits, making it one of the most-viewed blog posts on the site.[3] Stiles's first book, Slim Calm Sexy, was published by Rodale in 2010.[citation needed]

Stiles has been featured in pictorials for W, Shape Magazine, Self, Marie Claire, Fitness, and has 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,[5] 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,[6][failed verification] Men's Health,[7][failed verification] Ascent, and Yoga Journal.

Stiles has been the Face of Women's Health, a Rodale, Inc. publication, from April 2009 through April 2011.[citation needed] Stiles was also a spokesperson for Nissan Motors.[8]

Strala Yoga[edit]

In 2008, Stiles met her husband Michael Taylor at the Ananda Ashram in Monroe, New York.[9] "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.[3][10]

The couple founded the New York City yoga studio Strala[11] later that year. They made up the name, which is similar to the Swedish word "stråla" which means to "radiate light". In addition to continuing to make her videos and other media appearances, Stiles 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.[citation needed] 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."[3]

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.[3]

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."[3]

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.[3] "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."[3] To critics of her method of yoga instruction she said, "When they come to class, they see that we're guiding every single moment of movement. It's not chaos."[12]

Strala expansion[edit]

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.

Strala offers a long form Ready-to-Lead 210-hour program, bi-annual Summer Camp], weekend, and one day courses in learning to Guide Strala classes. Strala is credited and partnered with NAFC Fitness and Health Certification.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

Stiles and Strala partnered with CMG in Paris, which offers Strala classes at the clubs daily, and is the most successful branded program the club has ever launched.[citation needed] Stiles and CMG Strala program has expanded to Silhouette in Geneva and London in early 2015.

Strala's first partner studio was Strala Seattle. Strala Singapore, Strala Barcelona and Strala Tokyo opened in 2015.

Strala Yoga is available in 22,000 schools in partnership with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.[citation needed]


Stiles partnered with Reebok to design and launch Reebok Yoga in 2012.[13] 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' 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.[14]

Stiles partners with W Hotels, creating custom in-room yoga videos, healthy menu items, and retreats around the globe. W Vieques has a partner Strala Studio, Guide in residence, and on-going retreat packages co-branded Tara Stiles, Strala and W.[citation needed]

Stiles collaborated with Demand media to produce a documentary, Heartland Yogi in 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.[citation needed]

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 into three languages and available in every country.[citation needed]


Stiles is the author of many best selling books.[citation needed] Her first book is Slim Calm Sexy Yoga published by Rodale, when she was a writer for Women's Health Magazine. Yoga Cures, her second book, published by Crown is translated into may languages.[citation needed]

In 2013, Tara moved publishing houses to Hay House. She appears on the Hay House speakers circuit, and is one of their most popular authors,[citation needed] part of the next generation of leaders in the field of wellbeing. Make Your Own Rules Diet was released November 10, 2014 by Hay House. Make Your Own Rules Cookbook was released Nov 2015. All of Stiles' books are translated into several languages.[citation needed]


Stiles was a contestant and winner of MTV's Fear episode 9, "Fort Gains." She also has appeared in Matthew Barney's The Cremaster Cycle: Cremester 3. She co-hosted three segments on fitness and fashion with Pedro Andrade, Siafa Lewis, and Margherita Missoni.[15]

Stiles stars in Yoga Rebel, her own show for Scripps Network's Ulive.


  1. ^ "HBS Cases: Branding Yoga". HBS Working Knowledge. September 10, 2012. Retrieved February 25, 2020.
  2. ^ "Vanity Fair" coverage of Tara Stiles Archived August 30, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Alvarez, Lisette (January 23, 2011). "Rebel Yoga". The New York Times. Retrieved January 24, 2011.
  4. ^ Stiles, Tara (February 15, 2009). "Help! I'm Addicted to Facebook". The Huffington Post. Retrieved January 24, 2011.
  5. ^ http://www.elephantjournal.com/2009/08/tara-stiles-does-yoga-for-american-apparel
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on May 2, 2009. Retrieved August 14, 2009.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on April 15, 2009. Retrieved August 14, 2009.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ "Master the Shift"
  9. ^ "Krishna Das"
  10. ^ Wolfson, Alisa (August 17, 2008). "Stiles, 27, and Taylor, 34". New York Post. Retrieved March 1, 2010.
  11. ^ Strala Archived February 2, 2013, at archive.today
  12. ^ Rinkunas, Susan. "Tara Stiles: Handstands Won't Change Your Life". The Cut. New York Media LLC. Retrieved February 6, 2018.
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on October 22, 2013. Retrieved October 19, 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^ "Introducing Tara Stiles x WATG". www.kollabora.com. Retrieved February 25, 2020.
  15. ^ "LX-TV". Archived from the original on July 14, 2011. Retrieved August 14, 2009.

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