EFFINGHAM – The blustery wind and chilly temperatures didn’t deter a class of 14 local yogis from bringing their mats to the lawn of the Effingham County Museum for an inspiring morning of yoga.
Lotus Room Yoga owner Barbara Schuette invited a special guest to lead the class behind Santa’s house on Saturday morning in downtown Effingham. Schuette wanted to introduce his students to a particular style of yoga.
âWe were very lucky to have him with us today,â said Schuette.
Tara Stiles, the creator of Strala yoga, kept the students engaged while guiding them in her yoga practice based on individual feelings and well-being. The name Strala is a combination of the words strength and balance.
âI just want people to feel better and connect with themselves and know that yoga is not just stretching or strength and strengthening. It’s about noticing how you feel so you don’t ignore yourself and live your life with your head down. Stiles said. âI step away from telling people how they feel. “
Her style of yoga allows individuals to better balance their own well-being while creating harmony.
Stiles is originally from northern Illinois. She graduated from high school and moved to New York in 2000. She moved to New York to be part of a contemporary dance company, then one of her instructors introduced her to yoga.
âHe introduced yoga as a way to relax and unwind,â she said. âYoga wasn’t that popular back then in 2000, but I thought it was a good practice to do to feel better and connect.â
As Stiles learned more about yoga, she discovered how intimidating it can be.
âA lot of people think you have to be flexible. You have to change your religion or change your diet,â she said. easy way and feel better and you can still stay true to yourself and keep your beliefs. “
Yoga started to take up more and more of her time, so she opened a studio just for fun while she was still dancing. At that time, she had the opportunity to write books and produce DVDs.
Stiles opened her first yoga studio in New York 10 years ago and as things started to develop she began licensing partner studios.
âWe now have affiliates around the world that we visit,â she said.
Stiles is no stranger to giving outdoor yoga classes like Saturday’s class in downtown Effingham.
âI started a free yoga class in Central Park just for the enjoyment of anyone who wanted to come. It’s so nice to watch people go by and see that yoga isn’t that big of a deal and they can come in and have some fun. Even today we have seen people walk by with their dogs. Even on a windy and cold day like today, you can feel the wind and the cold and feel alive, âshe said.
Stiles’ parents moved to the Newton area a few years ago to live closer to his mother’s family. Stiles followed suit, moving from New York to Effingham in March. She lives with her husband, Mike Taylor, whom she met through yoga several years ago, and her 4-year-old daughter Daisy.
âWe thought with everything that was going on in the world, it’s nice to be closer to family,â Stiles said. âEverything I do with yoga is now online or I’m traveling somewhere. “
âMost of the things we do take place in Europe, Asia and the United States, and New York has always been our home port,â she said. âNow our home is Effingham. “
At present, her travel is limited due to the pandemic, however, she hopes to travel next summer with scheduled visits to Berlin, Germany, in June and then to France and London. Stiles plans to organize training and classes during his trip, including classes for companies.
Next summer, she also plans to travel to Disneyland in France for International Yoga Day.
âIt’s kind of like Christmas for yoga practitioners,â Stiles says. âWe did some lessons for them the summer before the pandemic. They give courses to the public and to some of their employees.
Stiles is the author of nine books which have been translated into other languages. While on tours in various countries, she lectures on her unique style of yoga. A book she authored, “A Clean Mind, A Clean Body: A 28 Day Plan for Physical, Mental, and Spiritual Self-Healing,” was a New York Times bestseller.
She recently worked on a project for National Geographic, “Yoga Animals: A Wild Introduction to Kid-Friendly Poses”.
âI just walked in and made history for yoga,â she said. âIt shows a child and another animal doing a yoga movement. I feel really lucky to be able to do things like this.
She is now producing live video from her Effingham home via her Strala yoga phone app. She also has her own YouTube channel: youtube.com/c/TaraStilesStralaYoga.
Schuette said she wanted to present Stile’s Strala yoga classes as a monthly series. Schuette has opened the Lotus Yoga Hall in downtown Effingham to give those in the community and surrounding communities, like Mattoon, who are interested in or want to try yoga a place to come together.
Schuette said Stiles will return for a class in his studio on January 29. Stiles’ husband Taylor will also be offering Tai Chi from his studio.