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Tara Stiles tests the so-called open-mindedness of traditional yogis

Tara Stiles doing Couch YogaIf there’s a topic in the yogasphere that can cause a yogi conniption fit, it’s Tara Stiles, and the New York City teacher’s secular style of Slim, Calm, Sexy yoga.

In an article in today’s New York Times, Lizette Alvarez calls Stiles a “rebel” in the yoga world, because the former model and founder of Strala yoga studio, forgoes yoga’s spiritual philosophy. Instead her path bends toward inclusion and accessibility.

You won’t hear any Sanskrit during her classes; she’s more athletic than ascetic. Stiles’ non-denominational yoga-fitness studio and brand woos New Yorkers, Youtube viewers, and gym-goers, creating an om-free space that appeals to thousands—and Deepak Chopra, whom she teaches.

Fans of Stiles argue that with her free yoga videos and $10 classes, she’s an incredibly generous yogi, and is “doing more for yoga than some of New York’s holier than thou teachers.”

However, her traditional peers don’t see it this way. Those who’ve made a serious study and practice of self-improvement and spiritual growth through yoga lambast her more factual, anatomical approach. They also roll their third eye at her use of cutesy, more commercial language, like Yoga for a Hangover and Couch Yoga (pictured).

Clearly, there’s something about Stiles that challenges traditional yogis—whether to accept she’s doing something different, to practice being non-judgmental, or to be at peace with their dissenting option.

Which camp do you fall into? Tell us in the Comments area, below!