Yoga, meditation, and healthy eating are the foundation of complete mind and body well-being. Make Your Own Rules Diet by Tara Stiles focuses on these three areas as essential for living a fulfilled and joyful life. I was lucky to unexpectedly meet Tara Stiles at her book signing after taking her Free Flow Lets Go yoga class sponsored by Goyogaco and W Hotels in Scottsdale, AZ. It was cool to get a hug from her, and then to read in her book how much she values the joy of hugging! At first, I thought Make Your Own Rules Diet would be primarily about recipes and healthy eating. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that it is so much more, offering motivation to cultivate daily at home yoga and meditation practices, and a glimpse into Tara’s history with food – the healthy and the unhealthy.
Create Space & Sensitize
The first part of the book spends time convincing us of the importance of getting back to the necessity of feeling. We are so programmed to put what everyone else thinks and what advertising tells us we should want before how we feel. It is too easy to get caught up in doing the things we think we are supposed to do because everyone else is, and to ignore all the signals our bodies send us about what is right and what is not. Tara Stiles sends a gentle yet powerful wake-up call that there is a better way through her latest book. She calls us to create space in our lives, remembering to breathe and allow our power to know whether something is on the path to our greatest life or not to shine above everything else.
Tara Stiles owns Strala Yoga in NYC, started the Strala yoga movement across the globe, and provides yoga videos on YouTube. Obviously a major yoga advocate, Tara briefly presents the health benefits of yoga. Since we have already heard these before, she spends more time advocating the significance of even just five minutes of yoga in the morning before getting the day started. As with meditation, it is amazing that a simple five minutes in the morning can change the course of the entire day, and so true. The book contains several yoga routines for different purposes, such as morning energy, body awareness, and strength. This section contains useful tips for doing the poses, along with a picture of every pose and straightforward instructions. I appreciated this section, because sometimes I don’t feel like turning on a video but want to get in five or ten minutes of at home yoga. These customized routines take the guesswork out of whether or not the sequence of poses is optimal.
According to Tara, meditation doesn’t have to mean sitting cross-legged with your thumbs and index fingers touching for thirty minutes a day, although it can be. Meditation can be doing yoga, going for a walk, or doing the dishes. Meditation can also be a few minutes in Savasana after yoga class or a few yoga poses, which is my favorite way to go! Whatever meditation practice you choose, the most important thing is that you are creating space and sensitizing, paying attention to what your body is telling you about what you need that day. Similar to the yoga tutorials, Tara also provides several meditation styles accompanied by simple how-to instructions for anyone looking to give meditation a try for the first time or to expand their practice.
Time in the Kitchen
I have been trying out the recipes in Make Your Own Rules Diet, taking the hint from the title that it’s okay if I make a few ingredient modifications to fit my personal tastes and preferences. The recipes are simple and easy to follow, not using too many ingredients or requiring over the top cooking techniques. The most important thing is that we are getting into our kitchens, finding joy in the process of preparing healthy meals throughout our lives. Because KFC isn’t gonna do it for us.
Tara discusses her history with an eating disorder and long stretches of days consisting of cereal for dinner and a strict diet of processed foods. She admits that the produce section at the grocery store was at first uncharted territory, but has become a staple in her fierce regimen for her most healthy life. I have been enjoying the smoothie recipes (Healthy Frosty and Thin Mints Girl Scout Cookie are a few of my favorites). On the savory side, I was astounded to discover that cashews are the secret to a great cheese sauce substitute in the Mac n’ Cheese recipe. While not claiming to be vegan, Tara states in the book that she is a vegetarian who avoids dairy (and booze). The recipes appear to be vegan, but this is not a bad thing. Some of the recipes don’t necessarily avoid gluten or sugar. In the vein of making my own rules, I simply made substitutions, such as using stevia instead of maple syrup in the smoothies and zucchini squash instead of pasta in the recipe for mac n’cheese. One of the best pieces of advice in the book is to go with the flow when it comes to a loved one’s cooking during a visit, even if it isn’t the healthiest dish ever created. Great tip for the holidays! What’s your favorite rule for healthy living that you actually enjoy following?
Get the Book!
Make Your Own Rules Diet is beautiful, packed with images of healthy foods and yoga poses. It wraps up with 7 day and 30 day eating and yoga plans to kick start optimal health. Being easy and creating more space within ourselves and the world around us are what it’s all about! Offering more than recipes, this book has been a reminder to me of how important it is to create the space and time for daily yoga, meditation, and healthy meal prep – even when I don’t feel like it. This book is great for anyone looking for a jump start to a healthier life in the new year, and would make a perfect gift!
There is a giveaway associated with this post, and there will be one winner who will receive a new hard copy of Make Your Own Rules Diet by Tara Stiles. To enter, simply post a comment below. The winner will be chosen randomly. The Make Your Own Rules Diet Giveaway will run until December 26, 2014 at 12 p.m. PST. The winner will be announced on this blog post and I will contact the winner directly. This giveaway is open to participants internationally. All entrants under 18 years of age require parental permission to enter. This is not a sponsored giveaway. I will purchase the prize. Good luck!
*This Giveaway is now closed.*
Congratulations to Brittany for being the winner of the Make Your Own Rules Diet Giveaway!