What Is Strala Yoga?

Strala Yoga is one of the more modern styles of yoga.

Some people might even argue it’s more of a “brand” than a branch of yoga.

So, what is Strala Yoga exactly?

Below we look at what Strala yoga is, its benefits, and how to practice it. Plus, we’ll check out a few video tutorials to get you started.

Strala Yoga Definition

Strala Yoga was developed by Tara Stiles, a yoga teacher and author from New York City. Tara Stiles has a background in dance, which is how she first came across a yoga lesson at 18 years old. Already passionate about movement, Tara Stiles fell in love with yoga as a form of moving meditation, setting her on a course to develop Strala Yoga.

In 2008, Tara Stiles and her husband Michael Taylor founded the first Strala Yoga studio. And now, Strala Yoga is practiced in 15 countries worldwide, with over a thousand yoga instructors certified to teach this style of yoga.

The name of this branch of yoga comes from the Swedish word stråla, roughly translated as “radiating light”. What sets Strala Yoga apart from the rest is its approach to the practice. Much of the practice focuses on the physical aspects of the yoga discipline and its health benefits. Although there is still an element of mindfulness and breathwork, Strala Yoga does not follow the philosophical views promoted by other types of yoga. Although it clearly recognizes the advantages of yogic movement, Strala Yoga is not designed to resemble a religious or spiritual practice. As an extension of that principle, Sanskrit is rarely used in Strala Yoga lessons, and the students are not expected to chant.

There are other defining attributes of Strala Yoga. For example, the students are encouraged to explore their bodies through movement and respond to their bodies’ signals to lead their practice. As a result, some students may practice at a slower pace, and some may modify poses according to their needs.

Another notable difference is that the Strala Yoga teachers are called “guides”, which reflects their role in the practice. After all, if the student is taught to listen to their body and embrace the personal practice, the teacher is only there to guide them.

This approach has caused some backlash in the yoga community, especially those who follow the more traditional yoga route. However, the same criticisms could be applied to many forms of modern yoga, as they have evolved to be different from the ancient practice.

Benefits of Strala Yoga

In Strala Yoga, there is a big emphasis on the physical practice and the health benefits it brings. Some benefits of Strala Yoga include:

  • Connection. One of the biggest selling points of Strala Yoga is the emphasis on establishing a strong connection between the body, mind, and breath. Sadly, large portions of the human population are completely disconnected from their bodies. Strala Yoga encourages mindful and deliberate movement that takes breathing into consideration.
  • Focus. Although Strala Yoga is not explicitly dedicated to meditation or the enlightenment it promises, it strongly encourages inner focus. It provides a space for practitioners to get away from the daily hustle and find their way back to their true selves. Focus is an integral part of the Strala Yoga discipline, as it allows the yogi to move with a purpose.
  • Movement with ease. According to Tara Stiles, Strala Yoga classes are so effective because their primary focus is on what feels good. The body is not pushed or contorted to reach a particular destination. Instead, students are encouraged to enjoy the process of moving and find movement that feels natural in their bodies. This movement, flowing and organic, is fueled by breath and instinct.
  • Playfulness. From ease comes playfulness. Some types of yoga may be very strict (e.g., Iyengar Yoga is strict about alignment, Ashtanga Vinyasa is strict about the sequence), yet Strala Yoga is much more fluid and fun. Strala Yoga is proof that yoga doesn’t have to be super-serious to positively affect one’s life. As a result, people who would have otherwise avoided yoga practice due to the fear of being ridiculed can now enjoy it.
  • Cultivating regular practice. Strala Yoga is all about creating healthy habits and reaping the benefits by cultivating regular practice. Thanks to its non-stringent, non-judgemental attitude, Strala Yoga doesn’t feel like a chore to be completed or a punishment for indulging in simple pleasures. Instead, it’s a pleasure all in itself, which makes it easier for people to commit long-term.
  • Less problematic. Strala Yoga has a distinct advantage of being developed recently, as well as being led by a woman. It recognizes some of the problematic aspects and outdated notions of traditional yoga practice and isn’t hesitant to make changes.

Strala Yoga Poses

Strala Yoga poses include:

  • Cat/Cow. This pose is used as a reminder to tune in with your body and find your stride.
  • Standing Forward Bend and Upright Salute. These two poses and the transition between them are a great way to awaken the body for movement.
  • Downward Facing Dog. In Strala Yoga, Downward Dog is a pose you come back to throughout your practice, which helps you gauge the “ease” and take a break.
  • Lunge and its variations. Strala Yoga makes use of Low Lunge, High Lunge, Twisted Lunge, as well as venturing into the Warrior Series (Warrior II, Reverse Warrior) and Extended Side Angle from the lunge position.
  • Inversions and arm balances. Thanks to its playful nature, Strala Yoga makes light work of handstands, Crow Pose, Standing Split, and other poses that would traditionally be labeled as “advanced”.

How to Practice Strala Yoga

The key to practicing Strala Yoga is moving with ease. Finding that “ease” can be tricky because, at the end of the day, it means different things to people based on their fitness level, age, existing ailments, etc. In order to find that natural movement, practitioners have to be in tune with their bodies and breath.

Once you crack the code of moving with ease, you can start really enjoying the practice. Moving with ease is about achieving more with less effort and making the practice serve your body and mind in more efficient ways. It can be difficult to find your way to such effective practice, which is why Strala Yoga is best practiced with a guide, especially at the beginning of your yoga journey. Each Strala Yoga guide is listed in a directory on their website, with over a thousand guides teaching worldwide.

In addition to in-person lessons, you can practice Strala Yoga online, which is available from many sources, including the official Strala online studio.

Start Strala Yoga at Home

If you can’t make it to a studio that offers Strala Yoga classes, or you would rather try Strala Yoga out at home first, check out these follow-along videos.

Strala Home Studio – The Official Strala Online Studio. Please note this is a subscription-based service.

Wake Up Yoga with Tara Stiles

Easy-Going Yoga to Unwind with Tara Stiles

Yoga for Restoring Your Whole Self with Tara Stiles

Strala Yoga FAQs

Can Anyone Practice Strala Yoga?

The core philosophy of Strala Yoga is that you can achieve lasting strength, balance, and awareness with inspiring ease. Strala Yoga is all about finding your own path and building your best self. Therefore, Strala Yoga can accommodate most practitioners, including complete beginners, yogis with physical limitations, or students with special circumstances. However, if you suffer from any illnesses or conditions that may affect your practice, please speak to the guide before class.

Why Does Strala Yoga Exclude Traditional Yoga Elements Like Sanskrit and Chanting?

Strala Yoga is a fusion discipline with a heavier focus on the physical benefits provided by the practice. It incorporates yoga poses, but at the same time, it draws inspiration from tai chi, qigong, and Traditional Chinese Medicine. To stay true to its focus, Strala Yoga does not promote traditional yogic philosophy or the spiritual side of the practice. Instead, it acknowledges the benefits of several different disciplines, combining them for maximum effect. According to Tara Stiles, Strala Yoga was developed to help people, not create a religious leader.

What Are the Drawbacks of Strala Yoga?

Although this style of yoga is fast-growing, it is still not as commonly taught. Therefore, finding a certified Strala Yoga guide locally can be a challenge.

If you are looking for a more traditional practice, Strala Yoga may not be for you.

Important: Check with your doctor before trying Strala Yoga for the first time if you have any type of injury, illness, pain, or you are pregnant.

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