Tara Stiles: Yoga Friend or Foe?


By YJ Editor  |  

I love tracking the ongoing debate about who is teaching the “right” kind of yoga–and who isn’t. And that’s exactly what I found when I opened the weekend The New York Times and read the article “Rebel Yoga” about Tara Stiles, a celebrity yoga teacher, author of the how-to book, Slim Calm Sexy Yoga, and Manhattan studio owner.

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After setting up the idea that she focuses on the physical practice of yoga, the article then talks to her supporters and her critics:

Supporter: Deepak Chopra
We are both nonconformists who have incurred the wrath of traditional yogis. A lot of the criticism is resentment of her rapid success. I have been doing yoga for 30 years. I have had teachers of all kinds. Taking lessons from her has been more useful to me than taking yoga from anyone else.

Critic: Linda Sama, author of the blog Linda’s Yoga Journey
Don’t even try to sell me on the ‘yoga for the masses’ excuse; it’s pathetic, and, frankly, she should be ashamed for allowing herself to be talked into shilling for this trash. That is, if any convincing was really necessary–somehow I doubt it. But if asked about it, I am sure we would hear the typical higher-lighter-brighter-peace-love-dove-I’m-just-bringing-yoga-to-the-people” talk.

And then we hear from Stiles herself:
I feel like I’m standing up for yoga. People need yoga, not another religious leader. Quite often in New York, they want to be religious leaders, and it’s not useful. Here, people want to sit and talk about yoga; it’s very heady. It’s very stuck, very serious. I was never invited to the party anyway–so I started my own party.

We want to know: Will yoga move past a place where people have to take sides on this kind of issue? And where do you stand?