Tara Stiles is a former model, turned yoga queen. She’s the founder of Strala Yoga, featured in a Harvard business case study. Open-minded and self-aware, Tara is no stranger to finding that inner balance and the work that it takes. But the key to it all is kindness-to others and to yourself. Tara was kind enough to sit down for a tea talk with sundays founder, Amy Lin, and share some of her self-care tips as well as her path to authenticity.
Amy: Where did you grow up and what was your childhood dream?
Tara: I’m from the middle of nowhere as they would say haha! Originally from Chicago, my extended family are farmers and they lived a simple, clean life that I was exposed to as a child. My mom actually says I pointed to the TV to a girl bending and stretching saying “I want to do that”. She took me to the nearest dance studio, and I fell in love. One reason I didn’t continue dancing professionally was because I wanted to dance with people instead.
Amy: What made you make the transition to yoga?
Tara: My ballet teacher actually brought in yoga, which at that time wasn’t mainstream. And I was like wow this man that he brought in was happy for no reason haha. As kids, we all have these dreams of feeling good. I never planned to do it as a career but I always knew it would be a part of my life. The magic of yoga is inside of you and it will look different for every person. I felt when I was going to other studios and I wasn’t suffering, I wouldn’t please the teacher.
Amy: I think I personally love this approach. That’s what I tried to think when I did dance or picked up a new workout. I would think I wasn’t good enough when you’re just supposed to enjoy the process.
Tara: Exactly! When you have a teacher that reinforces that, all potential of learning is squashed. There’s a lifetime of learning but you’re learning so you can be better not to check off this box.
Amy: You’re doing so many things! What’s your self-care routine, how do you keep the balance?
Tara: That’s why I love your newsletters, self-care is not this box to check off. It’s an everyday practice of taking some breaths, doing some yoga. If I’m hanging out with my daughter, cooking dinner, I’m on a work call, I can still take care of myself. If I have time to do my nails with sundays or yoga, it’s like wow I’m fully practicing self-care!
Amy: Yes, integrate it into your daily practice.
Tara: Yes! Even for me-being open, using people on the street to talk to. If there’s an interesting conversation, I feel more relaxed. It makes me feel good that maybe I made someone else feel good because they certainly made me feel good.
Amy: So, your self-care is being kind to other people! Doing little things, kindness. Are there any other self-care tips you’d like to share?
Tara: It’s important to use what we’re doing with how it’s going to make us feel. If you’re addicted to stress, yoga is not really going to work. If you’re going to do yoga, do your nails you should breathe, enjoy and take your time. Allow yourself to enjoy these moments!
Amy: Be compassionate, gentle to yourself.
Tara: We’re used to taking care of ourselves. Saying something nice to someone, you’re not spending energy, you’re getting it back.
Amy: Changing gear! What would you say to your younger self about self-care and self-love? We all go through a journey of awakening growing up.
Tara: Oh gosh, yeah. I don’t feel like there’s a before and after because I’m always getting better. I realize how awful I was to myself, even with dance, I would say “you need to get better.” Not having that inner confidence. The moment I let myself be myself things opened up for me. Even Deepak Chopra says: “The secret to life is authenticity. “That’s when I started meeting all these people like Deepak Chopra who said, “I love what you’re doing”. And I’m like “really?” haha.
Amy: When you’re being yourself, there’s no need to impress others.
Tara: The moment you realize you’re special but everyone else is special. For me, that’s why I love to talk to everyone. It allows other people to see who you are. One piece of sand is as beautiful as the next one.
Amy: I agree! And I’m practicing this more and more. Do you have a little daily reminder to stop comparing yourself?
Tara: Yes, I practice getting to know myself. I need to have some time in the morning, to be alone. These moments I need to feel better and I don’t need everyone else to figure out what my needs are and meet them for me. Taking care of myself and being curious about what they are, so I’m not being a burden on other people.
Amy: Talking about nails! What’s your favorite sundays color?
Amy: I feel like when we pick a favorite color there’s always a story behind it. Do you have a story?
Tara: When I moved to NY I was doing modeling and cheesy commercials and I would always have to get a neutral, almost clear color on my nails. Now that part of my life is over, I get to be myself, a little more colorful and fun. I love neutrals, but I do love the color. I want to try the different colors on each finger!
Amy: I love how authentic you are.
Tara: After time, I realized being myself is enough.
Amy: Going to the book you’re launching in December. Is it connected to this?
Tara: Yeah, it’s really about simple living, decoding ancient wisdoms like Ayurveda, meditation, tai-chi. I interviewed lots of experts on those topics. The goal is to share with people that there’s so much you can learn, take these little things to help you feel good. So people feel empowered and they can share the positive message with people in their lives.