[callout title=Saturday Cheat Day Disclaimer]

Here at Greatist, we believe in taking a day off. Instead of our regular programming Saturdays, our writers get a chance to write about living the greatist lifestyle and, basically, whatever they want. This is one of those awesome articles. Enjoy!


“There are no rules in life. It’s a mind-set that limits people dramatically,” Tara Stiles.

I don’t do yoga– but when Tara Stiles’ book Calm Slim Sexy Yoga was on display at the new books section in the library, as someone who reads anything fitness, I was obligated to check it out. And have since renewed it twice.

See, I’m that person who needs to do something heart-racing to de-stress. Yoga simply makes me anxious. In yoga’s defense, my only real experience was two semesters of Iyengar at a community college. My teacher was fabulous. She studied in India with Mr. Iyengar, and I usually left class inspired by her words– but I didn’t leave calm and collected.

Granted, there are many variations of yoga– hatha, bikram, vinyasa to name a few. I was sure I’d find one I enjoyed eventually, and now I have– whatever the form– in the pages of Tara Stiles book.

In the month and a half of using her book, I implemented two of her sequences into my daily routine: one for insomnia right before bed, and another for flexibility after workouts.

Now here’s the clincher: I like them. I look forward to them.

As someone who has battled insomnia since my teens, I noticed a difference almost immediately. I slept better. My muscles were relaxed. My mind was calmer. Combined with a cup of Organic Nighty Night tea, it is a simpler, healthier, and safer option to sleeping pills – which only leaves me groggy and with a headache the next day.

I bought two yoga blocks for the flexibility sequence, and I can now just about do the splits– something I haven’t done since I was 16 years old and in gymnastics. But Tara Stiles hasn’t rocked everyone’s world. She’s come under fire for promoting yoga as a weight-loss fad, a fitness tool rather than a lifestyle. She has been accused of selling-out for the “almighty dollar,” even being too thin to advocate yoga as a weight loss tool.

The irony is, I have (as I believe many of her fans have) embraced yoga because of her approach. Yoga, albeit a lifestyle for some, is also a fitness tool for others. How can you be a well-rounded athlete (because we are all athletes if we so chose) or a healthy individual if you only use one tool in your toolbox?

Ignore the splashy pink advertising. It’s in line with other books published by Women’s Health. Tara Stiles’ sequences, which address everything from toning to allergies to clearer skin, don’t last an hour nor does she require staying in the poses for more than ten deep inhales and exhales – but, for me, that is the attraction. Not everyone is looking for a religious leader, as she said, but she also doesn’t neglect the importance of breathing, mindfulness, and meditation either – in a way that is accessible to people who may otherwise feel like outcasts in the yoga community.

Last month, part of the Greatist Team actually attended a class with Tara Stiles. Here's what we thought!

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