Yoga Journal and Gaia are teaming up to bring you the LIVE BE YOGA TOUR, the best roadtrip ever. Here, meet the two incredible yogis we hired to capture the yoga stories they find along the way, and the finalists whose practice inspired us.
Early this year, we began our search for two brand ambassadors for our LIVE BE YOGA TOUR, launching in April. After receiving hundreds of applications and reading through the amazing stories that came with them, we painstakingly narrowed it down to a pool of finalists.
We are thrilled to announce Taylor O’Sullivan and Tarah Stuht as our yogi ambassadors who will travel across the country for six months in search of the America’s standout yoga teachers and fellow passionate yogis. Thanks to our fun new partnership with Gaia, they will be taking classes and learning about how you live your yoga on and off the mat, and capturing your stories on video to share with the national yoga community.
Here, meet Taylor and Tarah, and the other four incredible finalists with deep yoga practices and who truly live the values we believe in.
Live Be Yoga Tour Ambassador
As an adventure-seeking yogi and storyteller, Taylor has traveled to over 30 countries, sharing her travels through her blog and social media. She lives to inspire people through words and images.
Her love for human interaction and compelling stories is reflected in her career. She has worked in media for over ten years, both behind and in front of the camera, with an emphasis in documentary and TV. She’s interviewed and filmed dozens of people over the years, from children in Peru to football players to global thought leaders. Having the ability to connect with people around the world and share their stories on camera is so special, something that she is endlessly grateful for.
Taylor has been practicing yoga for three years. Her mother invited her very first yoga class, a heated Vinyasa flow at Core Power Yoga in Southern California. She was nervous at first because she wasn’t flexible and thought the idea of being in a heated room with dozens of sweaty bodies sounded a bit strange. But she’s always been open to trying new things, so she gave it a try.
She never felt so alive as she did during her first heated Vinyasa flow. And that first Savasana? She found herself in a state of unencumbered bliss. She had never experienced such weightlessness, like all of her worries had been wiped away. She was a clean slate, unbridled by stress and with a profound sense of mental clarity. She fell in love with that feeling and that feeling kept her coming back for more.
Yoga positively transformed every aspect of her life. It inspired her to practice meditation, manage her stress, and challenge herself both physically and mentally. Taylor believes that yoga is a gateway to living a balanced and healthy lifestyle. The asana may be the most tangible form of yoga practice, but for her, there are so many more layers. To deepen and explore the more spiritual element of her yoga practice, Taylor went on a retreat in India and it changed her life. Immersing herself 100% in yoga, especially in its sacred birthplace, taught her more than she could have ever imagined.
Yoga has allowed her to live more deeply by opening her mind, shifting her perspective and teaching her gratitude. She tries to bring all of these elements of yoga into her life on a daily basis, not just while she’s on her mat. Incorporating these principles into her life has genuinely made her a happier and more fulfilled human being.
Taylor wants to tell the whole world about the incredible impact yoga has had on her life, and is thrilled that the Live Be Yoga tour will empower her to do just that. She can’t wait to hit the road and meet more incredible people in the yoga community!
Live Be Yoga Tour Ambassador
Tarah is a food-lover, photographer, adventure traveler and free spirit. She is from the coffee capital of the country, Seattle, Washington, where she grew up cooking with her mother, Julie, practicing yoga and learning winemaking from her grandparents. Tarah loves to be outdoors, preferably in the woods where she can hike, breathe fresh air and take a minute to pause. She has a deep affection for music, specifically jazz, which she sang for many years.
Tarah’s first yoga class was a heated vinyasa flow. At the time, she was only fourteen and the youngest in the class. Nonetheless, she fell in love with the way yoga challenged and surprised her. Over the next several years, she spent most of her time in the yoga studio with her mother. Together, they consistently tried new postures and slowly developed their practices on and off the mat. Tarah adopted the yoga lifestyle by eating well, practicing mindfulness, caring for the planet and challenging herself mentally. Tarah’s passion for yoga grew into a determination to make it a career. She studied broadcast journalism in college, where she worked in front of the camera, in hopes of eventually using her skills to spread yoga and it’s purpose. She wasn’t sure how to blend her passion for storytelling and yoga, until she took teacher training years later in college, and saw the versatility within the business of yoga.
For the past five years, Tarah has worked in television. She’s traveled to multiple countries making documentaries, studying various languages, practicing yoga and writing. Yoga, travel, music and French language have been the biggest passions in her life. At twenty-one, she moved to Paris to study photography, Hatha Yoga and anthropology. In order to build her career, Tarah worked for Discovery Channel, where she conditioned her media business practices and worked heavily in television development.
Yoga has transformed Tarah in every way. She has become someone who uses yoga to see the benefits in all situations, to see the best in all people and to be patient with life’s journey. She’s learned to view the world from multiple perspectives and approach each day energetically and positively. One of her favorite yoga philosophies is: ‘life is a journey without a true destination.’ This has become Tarah’s mantra. She values life’s ups and downs because they keep each moment interesting and unpredictable. Tarah never expected to actually accomplish all of her goals at once, which is why she is beaming with gratitude and so excited to get on the road.
WHITNEY RENEE HACKLER
Whitney Renee is a yoga teacher, writer, and activist. She is an anatomy geek who appreciates a good grammar joke and vintage vinyl. Through her outreach, she continues to combine her interests of therapeutic writing and meditative movement, while upholding the philosophy that yoga should be accessible to everyone. She is passionate about teaching yin and restorative yoga and received her 200-RYT certification through the Evansville Yoga Center. In her classes, Whitney cultivates a space for students to slow down, reconnect, and just be. She currently teaches within UCLA’s Department of Medicine and leads free community-based classes throughout the greater LA area. Learn more at whitneyreneeyoga.com
Jolie Lee is a journalist and yoga teacher trainee in Washington, D.C. She is currently enrolled in the 200-hour RYT training program at Tranquil Space Yoga Studio and graduates in May. She believes in the transformative power of yoga, breath and meditation. Her goal is to bring yoga to people who don’t have access to it. Jolie currently works as a documentary associate producer for National Geographic Studios. Follow her on Instagram at @yogijolie.
Kristina Reese is a yogi and designer based in the heart of the Midwest. Her path to yoga comes physically from a background in team and individual athletics and philosophically from a desire to encourage positivity and embrace self-love.
With a Ashtanga-based roots, Kristina’s practice and teaching melds tradition and freedom of expression. Practicing with Kristina you can expect to find confidence and peace. Confidence that comes from approaching and overcoming new challenges, and peace as you accept and love yourself exactly as you are in the moment. Ideally, you’ll leave with a smile too.
Kristina teaches weekly group classes at studios and gyms throughout the Champaign-Urbana area in addition to private classes geared towards teens in transition, cancer support, collegiate athletes and more. Learn more at www.kristinareeseyoga.com
Loretta is an E-RYT 200 who found yoga in 2009 through the Ramapo College yoga club. She was immediately drawn to the asana that was so closely tied to her roots in dancing. Loretta received her certification from the college’s teacher training program in 2011. She enjoys teaching an open-level vinyasa flow that is often times described as creative and fluid, but deceivingly challenging. Loretta is currently completing a Yoga Therapist teacher training, and also teaches to a wide range of vulnerable populations including cancer patients, prisoners, special needs adults, and addiction recovery through Kula for Karma. Learn more at lorettaturner.com.