I first came across Tara Stiles when I stumbled on her yoga studio Strala during a visit to New York City. After that, I’d see her pop up on Instagram teaching hundreds of students, twisting into some part-human-part-pretzel poses and, ultimately, always sporting a giant smile. This is a girl who radiates serenity and happiness, and I wanted to know how she does it.
So when her book Make Your Own Rules Diet (available from Amazon or iBooks) came to my attention via Starbucks’ Book of the Week recommendations (side note: isn’t it nice to see some of the world’s biggest businesses backing the movement for healthier living?), I was excited to see whether this New York girl’s kitchen habits could influence a happier and more energetic lifestyle of my own.
The title, as it transpires, is only a partial reflection of the book’s merits. In fact, this is a full-blown guide to getting more from every waking minute. Sure there is a section on the importance of breaking the sugar crash cycle and eating ingredients from the earth (plus plenty of recipes to show you how easy and enticing it is to do so), but for me the underlying message of the book is its emphasis on feeling versus analysing.
Speaking from experience
To show she’s truly invested in her processes, Tara starts by opening up about the impact of a traumatic post-party incident she experienced as a teenager, and how it consumed her with negative energy and began a vicious cycle of starvation. It was only by a slow period of sensitisation that she was able to appreciate and nourish her body – to understand its needs and nurture them for holistic wellbeing. This is the crux of her Make Your Own Rules Diet – and it’s a principle that extends well beyond the kitchen.
Still somewhat of a taboo subject (although Robin Williams’ death last year helped to spark important conversations), mental health is a topic Tara tackles head on with her easy and accessible introduction to meditation. She talks a lot about taking time, and making space, to review the self from within. Her breathing exercises are short and perfect for integrating in the day to day. Over time they teach us to silence the static of daily demands and find a moment of peace. By taking this time in the day, our awareness of our nutritional and physical needs also increases.
Take it to the mat
By far my most bookmarked section of Tara’s book is the chapter on ‘Working Your Mat’. Her energising morning flow is seriously life-changing for anyone who sits at a desk for the bulk of their day – I felt the difference to my posture with every practice. Also fantastic is her evening unwind sequence, which is just physical enough for a post-work energy boost but not so sweaty and adrenaline-stimulating it keeps you up at night. I haven’t yet tried her ‘heart-pumping sweaty flow’ as I prefer to do my tougher vinyasas in a class setting, but her demonstrations certainly set the bar high and make you want to spend more time on the mat.
Tara also turns the kitchen into a creative space – describing her recipes as no more than suggestions on how to mix up healthy ingredients and encouraging you to throw in more of this, less of that or completely new additions to put your own spin on them. Your pots and pans become another canvas for self-expression, completing the journey from your yoga mat and back again. The two go hand in hand, and all the other parts of the puzzle like your job, your hobbies and your relationships also become clearer as the body is prioritised through both exercise and nutrition.
The winning recipes for me are the Chocolate Almond Protein Butter Smoothie and the Rise & Shine Granola. The latter finally gave me the kick I needed to give up sugar-laden store-bought brands for good and mix up my own fresh batch for an effortless breakfast or healthy dessert alternative when mixed with natural Greek yoghurt and berries. I’ve since gone on to personalise this several times over and every batch has been equally delicious. (Stop by next week for a few of my favourite concoctions, including a special request for a nut-free version for a friend with allergies!)
Get your copy of Tara Stiles’ <a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/Make-Your-Own-Rules-Diet/dp/1401944353" onclick="__gaTracker('send', 'event', 'outbound-article', 'http://www.amazon.co buy viagra in usa.uk/Make-Your-Own-Rules-Diet/dp/1401944353′, ‘Make Your Own Rules Diet’);” target=”_blank”>Make Your Own Rules Diet today to bring the feeling back into your yoga practice, meditative moments and eating habits. And feel free to share your own sources of fitspiration in a comment below or on social media. Happy rule making!