True teachers remind us of what’s most important. They remind us how to practice when we lose our way. They illuminate our paths, they challenge us to grow, they delight in our evolution. A teacher-student relationship is one of the most sacred ties we have. In his seminal book, Light on Yoga, B.K.S. Iyengar implies that this connection between teacher and student is the most central in our lives.
The following list highlights the top 100 influential yoga teachers in America, who have dedicated their lives to spreading the practices of yoga, and in doing so, have impacted millions of new yogis around the globe. We measured influence based on a variety of factors, such as depth of study, community impact, social media following, and contributions to yoga’s many aspects, from philosophy to physiology, tradition to innovation. These teachers each play a profound role in the dissemination of the practice from its roots, and the perpetuation of modern day parampara, the acceleration of lineage and teachings passed down from teacher to student over time.
While this feature is extensive, it is by no means exhaustive—yoga’s landscape is vast and more multifaceted than ever, and there are more inspiring teachers doing good work than we can name here. But by highlighting the following influencers and innovators we hope to guide you toward people and perspectives that may deepen your practice in whatever direction you choose. We also hope to provide some contextual understanding of individual experiences in studios from coast to coast. The manner in which we all practice has been molded by the following individuals, through contributions both sweeping and subtle. Read on and let them show you the ways.
Sag Harbor, NY
In the early ‘90s thousands of Americans started practicing yoga because of Rodney Yee. His yoga DVDs, produced by Gaiam, continue to be some of the most popular ever made. Yee has been practicing yoga for almost 40 years and teaching for almost 30. Yee is a certified Iyengar yoga teacher who first studied with the lineage’s namesake founder, B.K.S. Iyengar, in 1987. Yee has since developed his own teaching style that incorporates a hawk-like attention to alignment, intense verbal cues, and elegant, flowing movements influenced by his study of ballet. Yee travels around the world to teach both on his own and with his wife, Colleen Saidman, with whom he co-directs the Yoga Shanti schools in New York. Yee also serves as yoga director with Saidman for the Urban Zen Foundation, a non-profit organization founded by Donna Karan that seeks to bring complementary practices, including yoga and meditation, into the mainstream healthcare system.
Author of five books and co-author of another three, Sharon Gannon is a prolific creator. In 1984 Gannon co-founded with David Life the Jivamukti yoga method, a system that sprung out of the Ashtanga lineage, and pivots on five main tenets, including shastra (scripture), bhakti (devotion), ahimsa (non-harming), nada (the yoga of sound and vibration), and dhyana (meditation). The method has been informed by Gannon and Life’s study with their gurus Swami Nirmalanda, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, and Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati. Presently there are 14 Jivamukti Centers in New York, New Jersey, London, Germany, Australia, Mexico, Spain, and Russia, and 34 affiliated studios across the world. Gannon is an activist for animal rights, an avid vegan, and a spiritual leader to thousands of yogis around the globe. Gannon’s most recent book Simple Recipes for Joy, is a vegan cookbook, with playful photos of her life and kitchen in Woodstock, New York. Gannon is often seen wearing all white, and she is a highly devotional leader, who is drawn in to the yoga practice through chanting, scripture, and proper alignment of the body through breath and movement.
Sri Dharma Mittra
New York, NY
You’ve probably seen a photo of Sri Dharma Mittra at some point during your yoga practice and didn’t know it. The Brazilian-born yoga teacher, who founded the Dharma Yoga New York Center in 1975, is best known for creating the “Master Yoga Chart of 908 Postures” poster, featuring 1,350 photographs of postures (300+ were his own invention!), as a gift to his beloved guru, Yogi Gupta, some 30 years ago. It has since become a crucial teaching tool in yoga communities around the globe. Mittra also wrote the book Asanas: 608 Yoga Poses, and launched the DVD series “Maha Sadhana: The Great Practice” (levels 1 and 2). He has dedicated more than five decades of his life to teaching spiritually grounded yoga—specifically classical Hatha and Raja—and it shows. The jovial, kind-hearted, silver-haired man doesn’t look a day over 50 even though he turned 76 last year. Attend one of his weekly classes (yes, he still teaches!) to see for yourself. If you’re lucky, maybe you’ll catch him performing his world-famous handless headstand.
Orcas Island, WA
Most people speak about Ana Forrest as if she were a force of nature or a mystical goddess from some lost world. In 1982 she founded the Forrest Yoga method, a system based on Hatha yoga that is intensely physical while incredibly subtle and encourages the practitioner toward an ethos of self-healing through an exploration of the feelings and traumas stored in the body. Forrest leads teacher trainings and retreats all around the world, and has influenced the style and teaching of thousands. In addition to being one of the leading minds in the world of yoga and yogic philosophy, Forrest is also a practitioner of Native American medicine, a Reiki master, and a certified regression therapist (a mode of therapy focused on discovery of problems in present and past lives). She released her first book, Fierce Medicine: Breakthrough Practices to Heal the Body and Ignite the Spirit, in May 2011. Forrest advocates eating and living in such a way that ahimsa, non-harming, applies not only to the outside world, but also to the self. She talks extensively about the morality of engaging with our human-animal selves.
Los Angeles, CA
Co-founder of YogaWorks with Chuck Miller and Alan Finger, and an internationally celebrated yoga teacher, Maty Ezraty has been teaching for more than 30 years. A student of Ashtanga yoga creator, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, Ezraty was one of the first women to practice third and fourth series. (Ashtanga has six series of postures and very few people in the world advance beyond the third.) After traveling to Mysore for many years to study with Jois, Ezraty has more recently become interested in the Iyengar yoga method, traveling to Pune, India, to study with Geeta Iyengar, the eldest daughter of B.K.S. Iyengar. Founded in 1987 in Santa Monica, California, YogaWorks now has over 40 locations and was one of the first organizations to offer standardized teacher training integrating many different styles of yoga. Many of today’s yoga celebrities, such as Seane Corn, Shiva Rea, Rod Stryker, and Kathryn Budig, were all students of Ezraty’s. In 2004, Ezraty sold YogaWorks, but she continues to be one of the most innovative and beloved teachers in the world.
New York, NY
Co-founder of YogaWorks, and a yoga instructor for more than 50 years, Alan Finger, also known as Kavi Yogiraj (master of masters), is one of the most celebrated teachers in America. The South African native learned yoga at age 16 from his father Kavi Yogiraj Mani Finger, whose teachers were Indian gurus Yogananda and Swami Sivananda. Finger and his father created ISHTA Yoga (Integrated Science of Hatha, Tantra, and Ayurveda) in the 1960s and it now has a home base in two New York City studio locations he co-founded with his wife Sarah Finger, and Bruce and Julie Wilcox. ISHTA aims to teach students how to integrate aspects from various yoga styles to best suit an individual’s practice. Finger has authored multiple books and DVDs, and also founded the Yoga Tantra Institute in Los Angeles, as well as Yoga Zone studios and a TV show of the same name in the early 1990s. Finger is known as a teacher’s teacher, and his lineage continues to spread all over the world.
Richard Freeman has been studying yoga for almost 50 years. Founder of Yoga Workshop in Boulder, Colorado, which opened its doors in 1987, Freeman was one of the very first teachers to be certified to teach Ashtanga yoga by Sri K. Patabbhi Jois. His style of teaching is called Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga, and it has been influenced by his study of Iyengar yoga, which he began in 1974. In addition to running his studio in Boulder, Freeman teaches globally, leading workshops, and continuing his study of Vipassana Buddhist meditation. Freeman is the author of The Mirror of Yoga and numerous yoga DVDs, and he is also a teacher on YogaGlo. Though his practice and his teaching are very physical, as it is rooted in Ashtanga, Freeman is one of the most well versed teachers on yogic philosophy, including the field of devotional chanting.
Related: How to Get Started with Meditation
In 1984, David Life founded Jivamukti yoga with Sharon Gannon. Originally from Michigan, and a lifelong poet-artist, Life has studied under some of the greatest yoga masters, most notably Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati, Shri Swami Nirmalananda, and Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. Life was certified to teach yoga with Pattabhi Jois in 1984, spent several years as a renunciate monk, and received Kalachakra and Bodhisattva initiation from His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. Life is a world-renowned spiritual teacher, and the Jivamukti trainings he leads with Gannon are considered some of the best in the world. Along with Gannon, Life is an animal rights advocate, and a longtime member of PETA. The two of them live in a 76-acre wildlife forest sanctuary near Woodstock, New York.
“We are not medical bodies, we are mystical bodies,” says Michaan. Petite in form, yet expansive in presence, and with bright blue eyes of telling wisdom, Michaan has been practicing yoga for 40 years and teaching for over 30. Creator of the Katonah yoga method, which integrates Daoism, mathematics, and an eclectic fusion of yoga and spirituality and owner of two New York studios by the same name, Michaan draws inspiration from Taoist thought, geometry, and her own evolving practice. Michaan has become renowned not only for her poetic metaphors and knowledge of yoga, but also for her keen ability to “read” people’s bodies almost instantaneously upon meeting them. When she’s not teaching yoga, she’s reading Goethe and Spinoza, refining her own practices for longevity, and sharing her infectious sense of joy with those around her.
Halpern is often referred to as “The Godfather” in the Chicago yoga world where he’s been teaching for the past 30 years, and where he’s influenced nearly every single major teacher at Chicago’s yogic strongholds, Moksha Yoga and Yogaview, where Halpern regularly leads workshops. Halpern holds degrees in philosophy and health psychology and was trained under the Iyengar yoga method in both San Francisco, and Pune, India. He founded his River North studio, Yoga Circle, in 1985, and he teaches there and around the world, focusing on yoga therapeutics. His methodology for therapeutic classes are modeled on Iyengar’s techniques, wherein he begins with first giving relief to get a person out of pain and then correcting their anatomy, which sometimes takes years.
New York, NY
Alison West has not only studied in almost every major yogic lineage, but she is also adored and respected across traditions. She began teaching in the late 1980s with Sivananda and Jivamukti, and opened the premier New York City yoga studio, Yoga Union, in 1996, which offers classes that hinge on West’s techniques for alignment, back care, and posture. West has studied in both Pune, India, with the Iyengars, and in Mysore, India, with Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. She founded and is sole director of Yoga Union and the Yoga Union Backcare and Scoliosis Center, and continues to study kinesiology and anatomy with master teachers Irene Dowd, Tom Myers, and Gil Hedley. West leads demanding annual 200-hour and 500-hour TT programs, and she also runs the only 100-Hour Backcare and Scoliosis Certification Program in the world. West also travels around the world teaching workshops and master classes.
Rod Stryker started practicing yoga at 18 years old, and has been teaching around the world for the past 35 years. He is the founder of a method called ParaYoga, which he defines from Sanskrit as meaning “the highest result possible when we put in effort.” His methodology involves deep study of tantra, Ayurveda, and yogic philosophy. Stryker was first a student of Kavi Yogiraj Mani Finger and his son, Alan Finger, and since 1999 has studied with Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, Ph.D., the spiritual head of the Himalayan Institute of Yoga Science and Philosophy. Stryker travels around the world lecturing about and instructing meditation and yoga. His book, The Four Desires: Creating a Life of Purpose, Happiness, Prosperity, and Freedom, was published in 2011 and has been widely celebrated in the yoga world for encouraging inner fulfillment and complete joy through a look into our innate human desires as outlined by the yogic tradition.
Ashtanga yoga master Tim Miller was the first westerner to be certified to teach by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, and has been credited as one of the first people to bring yoga to America. Miller began practicing in Encinitas, California, at the Ashtanga Yoga Nilayam in 1978, and six months after he began practicing, he met Pattabhi Jois, at which point he went to India and began studying in Mysore. He returned to California, and in 1981 took over leadership of the Ashtanga Yoga Nilayam, which has since moved locations and is called the Ashtanga Yoga Center of Carlsbad.
Los Angeles, CA
For the past 25 years, Shiva Rea has been a celebrated Vinyasa yoga teacher in America and around the world. Founder of her own method, called Prana Vinyasa, Rea’s system of yoga is influenced by many traditions and aims to serve as “an effective, creative system of progressing on the path, bringing greater vitality, fluidity, longevity, satisfaction in the soul, passion and compassion in the heart.” Rea started out practicing Ashtanga as a teenager, and was studying in the lineage of Krishnamacharya when she transitioned to focus more on tantra and Ayurveda. Her teaching integrates all the lineages she’s been exposed to, including her evolution as a mother. She appears in many yoga DVDs and CDs, and published her first book, Tending the Heart Fire: Living in Flow with the Pulse of Life, last year. She is a self-identifying mystic and the founder of Samudra Global School for Living Yoga, an online yoga school, as well as the founder of several different activism initiatives in the yoga world and beyond.
Known as one of the world’s most prominent Ashtanga Yoga teachers, David Swenson started practicing in 1973 under the guidance of David Williams and Nancy Gilgoff in Encinitas, California. Swenson made his first trip to Mysore in 1977, where he learned the full system from Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. He began teaching shortly thereafter, and has released dozens DVDs and audio tapes, and is also the author of the popular book, Ashtanga Yoga: The Practice Manual, which was released in 1999 and to date remains one of the most thorough guides to the Ashtanga yoga system. Swenson is recognized as one of the most advanced practitioners in the world, and he teaches workshops in America and abroad.
For 40 years, Patricia Walden has made annual pilgrimages to Pune, India to study with her teacher, B.K.S. Iyengar, and his daughter Geeta, after his death. Walden has been hugely influential in bringing Iyengar yoga to America, and has served as a member of the national certification committee (the B.K.S. Iyengar Yoga National Association of the United States, or IYNAUS), for almost 25 years. Walden has co-authored three books and dozens of DVDs, including “Yoga for Beginners,” which was one of the first and most important in popularizing yoga in the West. She now teaches at Down Under Yoga in Brookline, Massachusetts, and leads yoga workshops, retreats, and trainings around the world.
Cyndi Lee first tried yoga in college in 1971 and over the course of the next 20 years she deepened her practice, studying multiple traditions, including Sivananda, Kundalini, Iyengar, Ashtanga, and Jivamukti. Lee taught in New York City part time while pursuing a successful dance career until 1994 when she started teaching yoga full time at various studios throughout the city. Lee is the first female teacher to fully integrate yoga asana and Tibetan Buddhism in her practice and teachings. In 1998 Lee founded the OM Yoga Center in New York City, which she ran for almost 15 years and was widely regarded as one of the most comprehensive studios in the world. Many of the teachers on this list, including Elena Brower, Amy Ippoliti, Margi Young, and Annie Piper were early teachers and teacher trainees with Lee at OM Yoga. Lee currently resides in Virginia where she founded Yoga Goodness Studio, which offers alignment-based Vinyasa yoga, grounded in the meditation practices of mindfulness and compassion. Lee continues to lead teacher trainings (at the 200-, 300-, and 500-hour level), retreats, and workshops around the world.
New York, NY
Eddie Stern first met Sri K. Pattabhi Jois 26 years ago. Since then, Stern has become one of the most famous and most beloved Ashtanga yoga teachers in the world. He opened the Broome Street Temple in New York City in 2001 with his wife and fellow Ashtanga yoga teacher Jocelyne Stern, which was the first and only Vedically consecrated Ganesha temple in Manhattan, and which also housed their Ashtanga yoga school for 14 years, up until its closing this past summer. In addition to being a renowned teacher, whose school is now based in Brooklyn, New York, Stern is a scholar and avid devotee of the Hindu tradition. Stern co-authored a book on Pattabhi Jois with fellow Ashtanga Yoga teacher Guy Donahuye, entitled Guruji, and recently collaborated with Michael O’Neil on his new book of photography On Yoga. Stern is a major advocate of spreading yoga broadly and works tirelessly to bring yoga to at-risk youth.
New York, NY
For almost 20 years, Elena Brower has been a primary fixture of the New York City yoga scene. Brower, whose teaching is influenced by Kundalini, Katonah, and ParaYoga, is able to exist in many worlds with total authenticity. She has taught in front of the Eiffel Tower, on the Great Lawn of Central Park, and has led retreats all over the world—from Nepal to California to London. She is the founder of teach.yoga, an online content platform for teachers, author of award-winning book Art of Attention, and former owner of one of New York City’s most sought-after yoga studios, Vira Yoga. Brower is a mother, and has recently become equally known for her meditation teaching as her work in yoga. She studied with Thom Knoles and teaches Vedic-style meditation.
Dana Trixie Flynn
New York, NY
With yoga pants as colorful and vibrant as her tattoos and her ever-changing, eclectic hairstyle, and yoga studios predicated on “moving like you”—Dana Trixie Flynn is one of the most fiery, fierce, and playful teachers around. She opened the Laughing Lotus Yoga in New York City with her partner Jasmine Tarkeshi in 1997, and has led the premier studio ever since, most recently expanding Lotus to open a second location in Brooklyn. Flynn travels around the world teaching yoga and leading teacher trainings with an approach that blends ecstatic movement practice with her love of poetry, dance, music, and philosophy. Flynn, along with Tarkeshi, created the Lotus Flow sequencing which was an offshoot of her own study with Jivamukti founder Sharon Gannon, combined with tools gleaned from her own practice and other movement methodologies. Flynn can be seen riding up and down the streets of New York on her orange and purple Vespa.
San Francisco, CA
There are only two people in the world who have been granted Advanced Senior certificates by B.K.S. Iyengar, and Manouso Manos is one of them. Part of the very selective second tier of Iyengar teachers in America, tasked with ensuring its authentic transmission, alongside Patricia Walden, Manos has been teaching yoga for nearly four decades. He began his study with Iyengar in 1976, and served as chairperson of the First International Iyengar Yoga Convention in 1984. As one of the most senior Iyengar teachers in the world Manouso is known for not only for his precise and refined knowledge of the physical postures, but also for his sense of humor and dynamism. He was featured in four Iyengar instructional videos, most of which are only in VHS and no longer available today. Manos hosts workshops around the world and teaches classes regularly at The Abode of Iyengar Yoga in San Francisco.
With a highly advanced physical practice and a strong connection to Mysore and the Ashtanga yoga lineage, Kino MacGregor is one of the most popular and well-respected Ashtanga yoga teachers in the world. At 19, Macgregor began practicing Ashtanga yoga, and began making yearly trips to study with her guru, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois in Mysore, India. At 29, she received certification to teach. MacGregor continues to travel annually to Mysore to study with her teacher Sharath Jois, grandson of Pattabhi Jois. With her roots in Miami, Macgregor co-owns the Miami Life Center with her husband Tim Feldmann, while also traveling and teaching all over the world. Macgregor is the author of three books and six yoga DVDs as well as the owner of a YouTube channel featuring yoga classes and tutorials with a subscriber base of 320,000. MacGregor has also developed one of the largest social media followings of any yoga teacher, offering advice and teachings on poses as well as frequent Instagram challenges for her nearly 1 million followers.
Certified to teach Ashtanga Yoga by in 1974, after three years of committed study under Sri K. Pattabhi Jois’ son, Manju Jois, Williams was the first non-Indian to be taught the whole of the Ashtanga system in Mysore directly from Pattabhi Jois. Williams has been devoted to his daily practice for 45 years, and he has been a teacher to some of the world’s most influential teachers, including David Swenson, Chuck Miller, Maty Ezraty, Bryan Kest, and more. Williams continues to teach on Maui, where he has lived since 1976.
New York, NY
A senior teacher at Katonah Yoga, Abbie Galvin has been teaching yoga for more than 25 years. Deeply influenced by her work as a filmmaker, psychoanalytic training, and Daoism, Galvin’s style of teaching is unlike any common class you might walk into at a gym or yoga studio. Her classes are focused on aligning the body and opening it so that the organs, the bones, and the breath can function freely.
New York, NY
Genevieve “Genny” Kapuler’s New York City classes are a rare and special experience. She teaches Iyengar yoga out of her loft studio apartment in SoHo, and has been a major influence on New York’s greatest yoga teachers across lineages. Kapuler has taught Iyengar yoga for 36 years, and first started practicing in 1976 with the late Mary Dunn, a pioneer of Iyengar yoga in the West. Before taking up yoga, Kapuler was a modern dancer; she is certified in the Alexander technique and is a practitioner of Body-Mind Centering, a method of applied movement to aid in self-discovery and developmental repatterning through the body-mind relationship.
Newport Beach, CA
David Miliotis has been a dedicated student of Ashtanga yoga since 1989. David was authorized to teach by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, and has studied extensively with Richard Freeman and Sharath Jois. Miliotis was the principal instructor of the Mysore program at Jois Yoga in Encinitas until 2014, and now teaches in Newport Beach and Laguna Beach in Southern California. In addition to his study of Ashtanga, Miliotis is a Sanskrit scholar, teaching bi-weekly online courses, and hosting gatherings for chanting and discussion. He is the author of Sanskrit and Chanting: A Workbook for Yoga Practitioners. In addition to his regular teaching, Miliotis is devoted to bringing yoga to at-risk youth in Santa Barbara County through his non-profit organization, the Tapas Project.
Alex Auder is a New York native who first started practicing in the late 1980s at the original Jivamukti Yoga School in East Village. Auder began teaching in New York City at Jivamukti, and then in the Hudson Valley, where she opened her own school, called Magu Yoga. When she moved back to Manhattan, Auder opened a small boutique studio in her home in the West Village, and began teaching at the Kula Yoga Project, where she still teaches master classes today. Last year she opened up Magu Yoga in Philadelphia. Her teaching is influenced by the system of structural alignment and integration as taught by the Iyengar method, and Kula Yoga, as well as her studies with Nevine Michaan, and her life-long study of Vedanta.
A yoga practitioner for more than 35 years, Richard Rosen has been one of the leading Iyengar yoga teachers in the world since the 1980s. In 1987 he co-founded the Piedmont Yoga Studio in Oakland, California, with Claire Finn and Rodney Yee, which was one of the first local yoga studios in the East Bay, and formalized teaching of Hatha, Iyengar, and restorative yoga. Rosen serves on the board of the Yoga Dana Foundation, which helps bring yoga teachers into underserved communities in Northern California. Rosen is also the author of three books, The Yoga of Breath: A Step-by-Step Guide to Pranayama (2002), Pranayama: Beyond the Fundamentals (2006), and Original Yoga: Rediscovering Traditional Practices of Hatha Yoga (2012), all published through Shambhala Publications.
Colleen Saidman Yee
Sag Harbor, NY
Colleen Saidman is the founder and co-owner of New York’s two Yoga Shanti studios, alongside her husband and prominent yoga teacher, Rodney Yee. First trained in the Jivamukti method, Saidman’s teaching is also deeply influenced by Iyengar technique and therapeutic methodology for aligning the body safely. Saidman is a highly devotional teacher who is studied in meditation and a lover of music. Saidman teaches all around the world both on her own and in partnership with Yee, and also appears in a variety of videos and DVDs produced with Gaiam and oneoeight.tv. In 2015 Saidman released her first book Yoga for Life: A Journey to Inner Peace and Freedom, a radically honest personal account of how yoga has informed her decisions and growth over the course of her life, along with practical applications of yoga sequences for everyday issues, such as depression, stress, and energy boosting.
Santa Monica, CA
Tiffany Cruikshank has spent the past 20 years crafting a system for teaching, which understands yoga as medicine. A holistic health practitioner, acupuncturist, and advanced yoga teacher and practitioner with a specialty in sports medicine, Cruikshank has been one of the foremost voices in successfully fusing Eastern and Western medicine within the yoga world. Founder of Yoga Medicine, Cruikshank has trained hundreds of students. Based in Los Angeles, Cruikshank teaches regularly for YogaGlo, and travels extensively around the world. She is also the author of the book Optimal Health for a Vibrant Life. She is an animal rights advocate, a strong voice for women’s empowerment, and the ambassador for Kira Grace yoga gear.
Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa
Los Angeles, CA
Almost every Sunday night Khalsa teaches a yoga class to 100 eager yogis at Golden Bridge Yoga Center, the Kundalini yoga studio she co-founded with her husband Gurushabd in Santa Monica. Khalsa later opened a New York City location and today Golden Bridge is considered the premier center for studying Kundalini. Khalsa studied with Yogi Bhajan, the man who introduced Kundalini yoga to the United States, and was one of his first students to consider the method as it pertained to pre-natal practitioners. She has authored two books, The Eight Human Talents: The Yogic Way to Restoring the Natural Balance of Serenity Within You, and Bountiful, Beautiful, Blissful: Experience the Natural Power of Pregnancy and Birth with Kundalini Yoga and Meditation. Gurmukh travels around the world teaching both Kundalini and pre- and post-natal yoga. Khalsa is also a Zen Buddhist practitioner.
Nancy Gilgoff has been practicing Ashtanga Yoga for over 40 years. Though Gilgoff was one of the very first teachers to be certified to teach by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, and she has been a major influence on the dissemination of Ashtanga yoga and its associated practices and dharma in the West, she has also done studies outside of the tradition. She started off as an Ashtangi in Encinitas alongside her boyfriend at the time, David Williams, and the two traveled to Mysore together in 1974 to study with Pattabhi Jois. She has studied with Baba Hari Dass, a silent monk and master yogi known for his interpretations of yoga scripture and philosophy, and several senior Iyengar teachers. Gilgoff is based in Maui, but she travels around the world teaching workshops and trainings, spreading her love of the practice, to which she has been lovingly bound for most of her adult life.
Los Angeles, CA
Erich Schiffman has been a student of yoga for more than 40 years, during which time he has studied with some of the greatest teachers to ever live. He began his studies with Jiddu Krishnamurti, the Theosophist thinker, and then at age 18 was accepted to study—at Krishnamurti’s urging—with T.K.V. Desikachar, the son and student of Krishnamacharya, the “Father of Modern Yoga.” In 1976 he studied with the Iyengar family in India, as well as senior teacher Dona Holleman, and Vanda Scaravelli. He has had a massive influence on American yoga in spite of his very laid-back, low-key approach. He teaches two weekly classes in Los Angeles, one monthly workshop, and a couple of teacher trainings around the world every year. He’s taught at every major yoga conference, studio, and has trained many of today’s most prominent teachers. He is the author of Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving into Stillness, and has appeared in the award-winning DVD “Yoga Mind & Body,” with Ali MacGraw.
In 1988, after eight years of practicing with Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, and 14 years of studying yoga, Chuck Miller was certified to teach Ashtanga yoga. He spent the next 17 years teaching Ashtanga at YogaWorks in Santa Monica, California, which he co-founded with Maty Ezraty, before moving to Hawaii. Miller has studied under many traditions, and has been a huge influence on some of the greatest modern yoga teachers in America.
Seane Corn is an internationally renowned yoga teacher, known for her tremendous work in social activism. Corn was first exposed to yoga working as a waitress at a café that David Life and Sharon Gannon owned in the East Village of New York in the 1980s. She went on to study at YogaWorks and did her first teacher training with Erich Schiffman in 1994, Bryan Kest in 1995, Maty Ezraty in 1995, and Lisa Walford in 1996, during which time she also studied in Mysore with Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, and was influenced by the teachings of Amma, the Hindu spiritual leader who is revered as a saint by her followers. Corn has been teaching Vinyasa yoga for more than 20 years, leading workshops and teacher training around the world, and inspiring her students to give back to their communities through radical self-transformation. To date she has been featured on more than 20 magazine covers, a dozen DVDs, and she also teaches on Gaia.com.
New York City, NY
Founder and director of Kula Yoga Project in New York City, one of the most popular yoga schools in the region which combines the Iyengar and Ashtanga lineages, co-creator of Wanderlust international yoga festival, and director of the Wanderlust Teacher Training, Schuyler Grant is a powerful instructor who has touched thousands of yogis around the world through her work. Her practice and her style of teaching is heavily influenced by Ashtanga, Iyengar and her own practice and study with anatomical master Alison West. Grant is currently on sabbatical from New York, teaching and working in Los Angeles at Wanderlust Hollywood.
East Chatham, NY
Punk rocker-turned monk-turned yogi and father of five, Raghunath Cappo is a beloved voice in the yoga world. He began yoga in 1987 as a student of Sri Dharma Mittra and Swami Sivananada, and continued his studies as a Krishna Bhakti monk in India. He now leads yoga teacher trainings in America and India, focusing on inversions and devotional bhakti, chanting, yogic philosophy, and Sanskrit. This past year Cappo opened a center with his wife, Bridget, called Super Soul Farm, on his property in upstate New York. It functions as a community center, yoga studio and teaching facility, farm, and ashram. Learn more about Cappo’s fascinating personal story here.
Co-owner of Miami Life Center, with his wife and fellow Ashtanga yoga teacher, Kino MacGregor, Tim Feldmann is one of the foremost Ashtanga instructors in the world. Originally trained as a dancer, Feldmann began practicing at the original Jivamukti Yoga School in New York City in the 1990s. Upon returning to his birthplace, Denmark, Feldmann began his Ashtanga practice with Lino Miele, and eventually made his way to Mysore. He began teaching nearly 25 years ago, and continues to teach in Miami and around the world today. He is known for his sweet, easy-going attitude, and his simultaneous deep caring for the physical and philosophical elements of the practice. Learn more about Feldmann’s experience with yoga here.
Los Angeles, CA
Lisa Walford has been teaching yoga since 1982. She holds an Intermediate Senior Iyengar teaching certificate, and continues to make annual trips to India to study with the Iyengar family. Up until 2006, Walford directed the curriculum for all Yoga Works teacher trainings, and was one of the most celebrated teachers on faculty. Walford’s classes powerfully meld the subtle and the physical, and she has trained some of the foremost yoga teachers in the world, including Annie Carpenter and Seane Corn. She is also the co-author of The Longevity Diet, and sits on the board for Iyengar Yoga Therapeutics, a collaboration of yoga teachers dedicated to improving the quality of life of those who live with health conditions and disease, and the Iyengar Yoga Association of Los Angeles, which serves Southern California with daily classes and teacher training.
New York City, NY
Nikki Costello is a profoundly intelligent advanced yoga teacher who teaches Iyengar yoga. She began teaching over 22 years ago in New York City and has extensive knowledge in yoga, Sanskrit and the scriptures. Her teaching is influenced by over 12 trips to India where she has lived and studied. Costello is a rare breed senior teacher who teaches in New York at Kula Yoga Project in Tribeca and Williamsburg and Yoga Shanti in New York City. She also travels the world extensively bringing her unique approach to The Practice, including mentoring teachers, sutra study, meditation and retreat.
Though Kathryn Budig is relatively young (she’s only been teaching for 10 years), she is known and celebrated around the world for her accessible and joyous approach, and her strong voice in the body-positive movement. Trained by YogaWorks’ Chuck Miller and Maty Ezraty, Budig has a very advanced physical practice that has garnered her a place as an Under Armour Women—sponsored athlete. Budig is a stalwart presenter for Yoga Journal conferences around the world, and is part of a new wave of traveling yoga teachers. Budig is playful, vivacious, and relatable, sharing her joie de vivre with her hundreds of thousands of social media followers. Budig is the author of The Women’s Health Big Book of Yoga, and has a new book, Aim True, coming out in March 2016.
A teacher for more than 25 years, Baron Baptiste’s teaching and his organization, the Baptiste Institute of Power Yoga, have reached millions of yogis around the world. Born to yogi parents who opened the very first yoga school in San Francisco in 1955, Baptiste was brought up around the practice. He’s studied various methods including Ashtanga, Iyengar, Raja, and Bikram, and he has described his proprietary method as “20 % mechanics and 80 % spiritual psychology.” Baptiste is the author of five books of yoga, with his sixth book coming out this May entitled, Perfectly Imperfect: The Art and Soul of Yoga. Baptiste continues to teach workshops, retreats, and teacher trainings around the world.
Judith Hanson Lasater
San Francisco, CA
Judith Lasater, Ph.D., best known for co-founding Yoga Journal magazine, was one of the earliest disciples of B.K.S. Iyengar in America. Teaching now for more than 45 years, Lasater leads workshops and trainings around the world. A celebrated author eight books, and many more articles, Lasater is a physical therapist and has a doctorate in East-West psychology, and she is recognized for popularizing restorative yoga. In addition to her work as an author, editor, and teacher, Lasater co-founded the Iyengar Yoga Institute in San Francisco, where she still teaches to this day.
New York, NY, and Switzerland
Trained by Sharon Gannon and David Life, Yogeswari is the traveling ambassador of Jivamukti Yoga. Every year she leads retreats and trainings all over the world—one week in Ubud, the next in Berlin, and then off to India before circling back to New York. As one of the most senior Jivamukti teachers, Yogeswari is responsible for having trained and mentored hundreds of students around the world. With a background in dance and choreography, Yogeswari’s classes are methodical and flowing. In addition to her work with Jivamukti over the past 16 years, Yogeswari is the founder of the AZAHAR Foundation, an international non-profit organization that promotes cross-cultural understanding and non-violent conflict resolution through yoga and the arts.
New York, NY
An authorized Senior Intermediate Iyengar teacher, Carrie Owerko walks around with a warm and playful smile on her face. Trained formally as a dancer and versed in many movement styles, Owerko has participated in and co-choreographed multiple yoga demonstrations throughout her career. Owerko continues to study in Pune, India with the Iyengar family, and teaches Iyengar yoga around the world. Owerko has also brought yoga, movement, and mindfulness teaching into schools and to Rikers Island, a complex of ten jails located outside of New York City. Owerko is deeply versed in yogic philosophy as well as the science of the body and has been a mentor and teacher to some of the most influential yoga teachers in the world.
Santa Fe, NM
Founder and director of Prajna Yoga in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Tias Little has integrated his scholarly work in Eastern Philosophy and his study with both B.K.S. Iyengar and Sri K. Pattabhi Jois to create a powerful, flowing practice. Little is also a massage therapist with a background in cranial-sacral therapy, and has been heavily influenced by the work of Ida Rolf, Moshe Feldenkrais, and Thomas Hanna. In addition to his extensive background and understanding of the physical body, Little has studied both Tibetan Buddhism and Zen meditation. Little currently teaches online for YogaGlo, and is the author of three books: The Thread of Breath, Meditations on a Dewdrop and The Yoga of the Subtle Body.
Related: Let Go, Let God
San Francisco, CA
In 1997, Jasmine Tarkeshi, co-created Laughing Lotus Yoga Center in New York City with her partner Dana Flynn. The two went on to open another Laughing Lotus in San Francisco, which Tarkeshi currently directs. She leads teacher trainings and workshops globally, inspiring her students through mythology, storytelling, and Eastern philosophy. Tarkeshi has been teaching for over 20 years, and has made many trips to India. She was raised with the Tibetan Buddhist teachings of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, and has been influenced by many traditions including Iyengar, Integral, Jivamukti, Sivananda, and her own practice. In addition to teaching yoga, Tarkeshi has led bhakti retreats with Baba Bhagavan Das, and is highly committed to bringing yoga to all beings everywhere. An activist and a mystic, Tarkeshi is a member of numerous human rights and animal rights organizations.
Santa Monica, CA
A practitioner since 1979, Bryan Kest has been teaching yoga for more than 30 years. He has received incredible fame around the world for coming up with his distinctive style of yoga, Power Yoga. As a teenager he studied Ashtanga yoga with David Williams in Hawaii, and in 1983 he traveled to India to study with Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. For the past 20 years Kest has been teaching Power Yoga around the world, training teachers, helping to start studios, and most recently, creating an online platform to stream classes.
San Francisco, CA
Leslie Howard has been teaching yoga for over 20 years, and has accumulated 3,000 hours of yoga study. Howard is most closely associated with the Iyengar school, having studied with such master teachers as Patricia Walden, Tony Briggs, and Manouso Manos. Her main area of focus, however, has been around women and the pelvic floor. She travels the world giving workshops, trainings, and talks, on anatomy, physiology, and breath work to help relieve pelvic floor issues, through the prism of the yoga practice as a therapeutic modality.
San Francisco, CA
It’s no secret that yoga attracts dancers thanks to a shared appreciation of body movement, which is one reason why Annie Carpenter found herself on the mat. As a performer and instructor at the Martha Graham Studio in New York, Carpenter turned to Iyengar yoga as a refuge from the intense New York dance scene. Inspired by her practice, she took a career-changing sabbatical from dance in 1995 to study Ashtanga with Maty Ezraty and Chuck Miller, founders of YogaWorks, where she received teacher-training with Lisa Walford and Ezraty. For the next 15 years, Carpenter taught at YogaWorks and developed her own method called SmartFLOW, a yoga sequence that focuses on mindful movement and alignment. Today, the light and joyful teacher continues to evolve SmartFLOW while offering her trademark 200- and 300-hour SmartFLOW teacher trainings at Exhale Center for Sacred Movement in Venice, California. She also teaches at the Yoga Tree in San Francisco and regularly contributes to Yoga Journal.
New York, NY
Guy Donahaye has been teaching Ashtanga yoga since 1993, and is one of the few teachers to receive certification to teach from Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. He co-authored a book on his teacher with fellow New York City Ashtanga yoga teacher, Eddie Stern, entitled Guruji, and has been devoted to sharing his knowledge of the practice and of his teacher’s wisdom with his students in New York City at the Ashtanga Yoga Shala, and around the world. He is known for his deep study of the ancient yogic texts and his art of hands-on assists.
Nikki Vilella, co-owner of Kula Yoga Project, Williamsburg, with Schuyler Grant, has trained hundreds of teachers, since she first started teaching yoga more than 10 years ago. Her classes are highly specific, with precise attunement to anatomy and physical form. Her teaching draws upon a comprehensive study of the bandhas, or body locks in physical practice, and the body’s most internal workings—making her classes incredibly physically and intellectually demanding and uplifting.
New York, NY
A student of yoga since age 15, Zoë Slatoff Ponte, has been teaching Ashtanga yoga since 2002 when she was first granted the blessing to teach from her guru, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. An authorized level-two teacher, Slatoff-Ponte runs an Ashtanga Yoga Shala on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, alongside her fellow Ashtanga teacher and husband Ben Ponte. In addition to her accomplished teaching, Slatoff-Ponte is also a scholar of Asian Languages and culture who recently released a book called Yogavataranam, a Sanskrit textbook for yoga students that integrates traditional and academic methods of learning, teaching grammar and reading through classical yoga texts.
Rima Rani Rabbath
New York, NY
Born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon, Rima Rabbath is one of the leading teachers of the Jivamukti yoga method in New York City and is known for her practical and loving integration of ancient wisdom into a modern life. A student of Jivamukti for over 15 years, and a teacher for 10, Rabbath helps facilitate their teacher trainings around the world. Rabbath has been deeply influenced by the study of Ashtanga yoga, most notably through Rolf and Marci Naujokat, in Goa, India. Rabbath’s main teachers are Sharon Gannon and David Life, and she also studies with Pema Chodron, the renowned American Tibetan Buddhist nun, teacher, and author. Learn more about Rabbath’s personal sources of inspiration here.
New York, NY
David Regelin has one of the most beautiful advanced yoga practices in the world. A student of Katonah Yoga founder Nevine Michaan, his teaching focuses on sacred geometry and body origami—the notion that the body, when it is properly aligned, fits and folds perfectly into itself. Regelin has been teaching for more than 15 years at various studios around New York City including Kula Yoga, Katonah Yoga, and The Shala, and leads intensives and trainings around the world.
Tony Briggs has been teaching Iyengar yoga since 1978, and is one of the most senior teachers in the lineage to this day. He has trained some of the most influential teachers in the modern yoga world, and has written extensively for Yoga Journal and other online publications on the methodology of hands-on assists and alignment of various yoga postures. His teaching is influenced by his study of shadow yoga, a style of Hatha yoga that incorporates three “preludes” of non-traditional poses to prepare the body for asana practice, and Qi Gong, as well as his own practice of seeking to find more space in the body.
New York, NY
Kevin Courtney, a senior teacher at New York City’s Kula Yoga Project, has taught yoga for nearly 20 years, and in recent months he has been widely recognized for his beautiful and audacious new project called The Bridge Practice, a unique three-hour class merging vigorous yoga, meditation, and Qi Gong, an ancient Chinese practice for cultivating health and vitality, which he co-teaches with Qi Gong teacher Thomas Droge. Courtney’s approach to yoga integrates his understanding of the subtle body, yoga therapeutics, Kundalini, Sankhya philosophy, and Qi Gong. He has been a regular teacher at Wanderlust and Kripalu, and now curates the yoga program at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Tennessee.
Gary Kraftsow, who has been teaching for more than 30 years, is the director and senior teacher of the American Viniyoga Institute. Beginning his studies in 1974 with T.K.V. Deskichar in India, Kraftsow is now one of the most prominent and trusted voices in yoga therapeutics and has published numerous articles on chronic pain and treatment through the yoga practice. Additionally, he is the author of the books, Yoga for Wellness and Yoga for Transformation, as well as several DVDs that examine the methodology through which Viniyoga can help treat ailments, anxiety, and pain. He teaches trainings and workshops in America and around the world.
John Campbell, Ph.D., has been teaching yoga for more than 20 years in the lineage of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. Campbell has been one of a few Ashtanga yoga teachers to meld his study of the practice with advanced scholarship. Campbell now serves as an assistant professor of religious studies at University of Virginia, and is a founding member of the university’s Contemplative Sciences Center. He helped start the Mysore program at UVA—one of the most robust college-level yoga programs, and teaches regularly on the integration of yogic philosophy and meditation. Campbell also serves as an advisor on yoga to Sonima.com.
Los Angeles, CA
Noah Mazé, founder of Noah Mazé Yoga, has been practicing since he was 14 years old. He began his study with Richard Freeman in Boulder, Colorado, and went on to study with Sri K. Pattabhi Jois in India, senior Iyengar teacher Manouso Manos, and did his first teacher training in Anusara. His teaching is also heavily influenced by his study with Douglas Brooks, the scholar of Hinduism, south Asian languages, and the comparative study of religions. Mazé’s school of yoga, which he founded in 2003, emphasizes postural alignment, progressive sequencing, and dynamic movement. Mazé teaches weekly classes at his home studio YOGAMAZÉ in Los Angeles, on YogaGlo, and in workshops and trainings all over the world.
New York, NY
An Ayurvedic expert, who has taken several trips to India for Panchakarma, an intense healing and cleansing Ayurvedic program, Ali Cramer has been teaching yoga, meditation, and Ayurveda for nearly 15 years. Cramer was first trained at Laughing Lotus in New York City, where she now serves as creative director and host of teacher trainings. She is one of the foremost minds in combining Ayurveda and yoga in New York City, and is invited to studios in the greater metropolitan area to teach workshops and trainings. Cramer has trained hundreds of students around the world. A Lululemon ambassador and a writer for various yoga publications, Cramer is also a resident teacher at the annual Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Tennessee.
Practicing since she was 15 years old, Kia Miller is a seasoned teacher who has established her own brand of yoga, called Radiant Body, a system that offers a combination of physical posture, breath work, kriya, meditation, and chanting. Her style of teaching draws on her years of practice under Ashtanga yoga with such teachers as Maty Ezraty, Chuck Miller, and Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. She also draws great influence from Kundalini yoga, and other subtle body practices. She teaches at YogaWorks in Los Angeles, and leads trainings and retreats around the world. She is also a regular contributor for YogaGlo.
San Francisco, CA
Devorah Sacks began studying yoga when she was 18 years old and met her teacher, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, when she was only 23. By the time she was 27, she had been blessed to teach the Ashtanga yoga method ( she is an authorized level 2 Mysore teacher with the KPJAYI), and she went on to study tantra and yoga nidra. She also holds a master’s degree in somatic psychology, a method to help patients suffering from psychological trauma cope and recover. Now the owner of Mission Ashtanga in San Francisco, Sacks combines her teaching and study of Ashtanga yoga with her experience as a therapist in her teaching and practice.
Los Angeles, CA
Sianna Sherman says she once thought she was destined to help people through medicine, but a meditation campaign to free Nelson Mandela in 1989 inspired her to change course and pursue yoga instead as a means to care for others. Fast-forward to 2008, Yoga Journal named her one of 21 young teachers influencing the future of yoga. Sherman is the creator of Mythic Yoga Flow, an alignment-focused sequence that combines traditional practices (yoga asana, mantra, and meditation) with expressive insight and captivating storytelling (she’s a lover of myths and magic) to help students establish an everyday transformative practice. She also founded the Goddess Project, a month-long yoga course designed to deepen your connection to your inner deity through mantra, mudra, meditation, pranayama, and asana. The internationally respected yogi travels the world offering 200- to 300-hour Fearless Heart Teacher Trainings and speaking passionately at workshops, retreats and festivals about embracing the fullness of life.
Amy Ippoliti started practicing yoga when she was 14 years old. She did her first teacher certification with Cyndi Lee in 1997, and soon after was teaching at some of the best new yoga schools in New York City. Since leaving New York, Ippoliti has become a leading authority on yoga, teaching in Colorado, on YogaGlo, and around the world. Ippoliti co-founded 90Monkeys.com, an online professional development school for yoga teachers. She is on faculty at the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, Omega Institute, and Esalen Institute, and is an advocate of animal rights and human rights.
Los Angeles, CA
Many people—yogis and non-yogis alike—might recognize Briohny Smyth from the gravity defying, seamlessly stunning, and viral yoga video produced by Equinox about five years ago. In it, Smith is shown practicing some of the most advanced yoga postures with complete grace, while her husband, and co-teacher, Dice Ida Klein, sleeps in the background. The two of them are the founders of Bryce Yoga, an internationally recognized and celebrated school of yoga, which runs its own trainings and workshops in Los Angeles and beyond. Smyth, originally from Thailand, got her yoga teaching certification at YogaWorks, and was mentored by Annie Carpenter and Lisa Walford.
New York, NY
Desai’s first trip to Mysore, India, was in 1997. Since then, Desai has hardly skipped a day of practice. With a background in Indian dance, Desai has deep familial roots in the traditions of yoga. Certified by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois to teach, Desai has brought the practice to some incredibly high-profile influencers, such as Sting and his wife Trudie Styler. Desai is the author of two books, the most recent of which, Yoga Sadhana for Mothers, is a text on practicing yoga from pregnancy through post-partum. Desai has taught all over the world, assisting Sharath Jois, and serving as an ambassador and a leader for the teachings of Ashtanga yoga. Learn more about Desai’s experience and inspiration for her teachings here.
Los Angeles, CA
Vinnie Marino has been a fixture of the Los Angeles yoga scene for more than 20 years. A veteran YogaWorks teacher, Marino was one of the first teachers to encourage music in class. Influenced by both Iyengar and Ashtanga traditions, Marino was mentored by Maty Ezraty and Chuck Miller and continues to teach Vinyasa flow classes at YogaWorks in Los Angeles. Today Marino travels around the world leading retreats and workshops, and is a featured model in the health section of the Los Angeles Times.
John Bultman is an authorized level-two Ashtanga yoga teacher at the University of Virginia, where he leads a Mysore program for students. Bultman is authorized to teach by Sharath Jois, the grandson of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, who holds the lineage in the Ashtanga tradition, and he has taught for six years and practiced Ashtanga for about 10. He travels to Mysore, India, every year, and in addition to his yoga teaching, Bultman is an artist, writer, and scientist.
A regular presenter and contributor for Yoga Journal, and involved in some of the most innovative work happening at the Mind and Life Institute, the non-profit organization dedicated to exploring the intersection of science and Buddhism, Bo Forbes is a truly unique teacher in today’s world. A clinical psychologist, mindfulness teacher, and scholar, Forbes is focused on integrating neuroscience and connective tissue research with psychology and yoga. Forbes writes frequently for some of the world’s leading magazines, and is the author of Yoga for Emotional Balance: Simple Practices to Help Relieve Anxiety and Depression. Forbes is also the founder of Embodied Awareness, an online education company geared towards embodied education. Forbes leads workshops, intensives, and trainings in yoga therapeutics in Boston and around the world.
Hari Kaur Khalsa
New York, NY
Hari Kaur Khalsa is a renowned spiritual teacher and global Kundalini representative. For 10 years, Khalsa traveled around the world with Yogi Bhajan, the master teacher who brought Kundalini yoga to the West, and she directed his teacher training programs. Khalsa still directs and teaches Kundalini classes and training internationally. She is known for her incredible work empowering women of all ages and life stages, and has published two books on the topic, A Woman’s Book of Meditation: Discovering the Power of a Peaceful Mind, and A Woman’s Book of Yoga: Embracing Our Natural Life Cycles. Khalsa has also done groundbreaking workshops with her musician husband, Dave Frank, in combining music, meditation, Qi Gong, and Kundalini yoga.
San Francisco, CA
Rusty Wells began practicing yoga in 1998 and describes himself as a “yogic messenger.” The owner of the Vinyasa-inspired Urban Flow Yoga studio, founded in 2010, specializes in Bhakti Flow, a practice that celebrates “devotion to the wonder of life.” His freestyle twist on this traditional practice has been known to spark an array of emotions—happiness, sadness and even catharsis—in just one class, which is why many students quickly find themselves obsessed. When not at his donation-based studio, Wells travels the world leading teacher trainings, retreats, and workshops. He is also the author of the new book Bhakti Flow Yoga, A Training Guide for Practice and Life, which came out last fall.
San Francisco, CA
The former hockey player and skateboarder is not your typical yogi, which makes him so relatable. The Ohio native trained in Vinyasa yoga under the legendary Rodney Yee, who had him practice 20-minute headstands as part of his rites of passage into the yoga community some 15 years ago. Yee has said, “[Crandell] is taking the art of teaching yoga to its next level. ” Crandell has taken his contagious passion for the education of this practice on the road, leading teacher trainings and workshops, primarily in Asia and Europe. He also regularly contributes to Yoga Journal, writing articles and creating DVDs, like “The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Yoga.”
Los Angeles, CA
Sara Ivanhoe is the instructor behind several popular yoga DVDs, including the “Weight Watchers Yoga Starter Kit,” the “Yoga for Dummies” series, the “Crunch Yoga” series , and “Yoga Live” in collaboration with Russell Simmons—all of which have sold millions of copies worldwide . The YogaWorks-trained star has also appeared on VH1’s “Dr. Drew’s Celebrity Rehab” and was featured on the Titans of Yoga , a 2010 critically acclaimed documentary about 25 of the most prominent figures who practice and teach yoga, meditation, and mindfulness. Ivanhoe began practicing yoga at age 14. After graduating from New York University in 1995, she started teaching Vinyasa yoga and she later became certified to teach Yoga and Ecology by the Green Yoga Association and was awarded a certification in yoga philosophy at Loyola Marymount University, where she is getting her master’s degree in the same subject.
New York, NY
The tank-top slogan “Who made the rules?” found on Tara Stiles ‘ first-ever yoga lifestyle line in collaboration with Reebok in 2013 perfectly sums up this model-turned-yogi’s MO. The former model from Illinois, who founded Strala Yoga in New York City, has been described as a “yoga rebel” by The New York Times for her chilled-out, totally accessible approach that focuses more on the physical rather than spiritual aspects of yoga. Since opening Strala in 2008, Stiles has expanded her brand to 15 countries, where 1,000 “guides,” as the yoga teachers are called, lead thousands in partner studios, gyms, and clubs. Among her most famous students are Jane Fonda and Deepak Chopra. She has written several top-selling books including Slim Calm Sexy Yoga, Yoga Cures, Make Your Own Rules Diet, and Make Your Own Rules Cookbook. (See a day in Tara Stiles’ diet here.) She continues to team up with Reebok to design the cool girl’s yoga apparel, where you’ll find anything but another pair of black yoga pants.
Santa Cruz, CA
Rolf Gates is the descendent of six generations of ministers, and is one of the most eclectic and passionate voices in modern yoga. Gates leads Vinyasa workshops, intensives, and teacher trainings around the world, and is an author of one of the more accessible and acclaimed books on yoga philosophy, Meditations from the Mat: Daily Reflections on the Path of Yoga. Gates has done a considerable amount of social service work, the most notable of which has been in working with the U.S. military to bring yoga and other sustainable care to troops and their families.
San Francisco, CA, and Bali
For over 15 years, Les Leventhal has been one of the most sought-after yoga teachers in the Bay Area (now based in Bali). His first yoga teacher training was with Ana Forrest, for whom he subsequently assisted at many of her own workshops and trainings around the world. A longtime student of Tias Little, Leventhal seeks to merge “Eightfold Path with the Eight Limbs in a way that feels all-inclusive.” Leventhal is also the author of one book, Two Lifestyles, One Lifetime: An Inspiring Journey From Rock-Bottom Hopelessness to Wildly Extravagant Possibility.
New York, NY
A yoga practitioner and teacher for over 20 years, Faith Hunter teaches her own style of yoga called Spiritually Fly, which merges Vinyasa, Ashtanga and Kundalini. Owner of Washington, D.C.- based studio Embrace DC, Hunter serves as director of teacher training. Hunter has traveled around the world teaching yoga, and has been featured numerous times in the world’s leading yoga magazines, both on the covers and as an expert source. Hunter has participated in several online yoga courses, including a partnership with Gaia.
Dominic Corigliano was among the very first westerners to study Ashtanga Yoga with Sri K. Pattabhi Jois in the 1970s. Teaching for over 30 years, Corigliano travels around the world teaching workshops and intensives, and has been a mentor to dozens of influential yoga teachers from San Diego to Malaysia.
For nearly 15 years, Jessica Walden has been teaching Ashtanga yoga. After five years of rigorous work in organic agriculture, Walden began a yoga practice, beginning with David and Simi Roche in 1994, and then began practicing with Tim Miller before heading to Mysore to study with the Jois family. Today, Walden is one of the most advanced Ashtanga yoga practitioners in the world, sharing her teachings around the globe. Walden also serves as a yoga advisor for Sonima.com.
San Francisco, CA
Trained by Cyndi Lee in 2001, Margi Young has been a beloved yoga teacher on both the East and West Coasts for more than 15 years. With a background in dance and choreography, Young first came to yoga through the Jivamukti method, and was drawn in by Lee’s OM yoga studio, which emphasized the integration of alignment, flow, and Buddhist mediation principles. Young has also done training with Judith Lasater in restorative yoga. Young now teaches in the Bay Area, and leads retreats and workshops around the world.
San Diego, CA
An authorized level-two Ashtanga yoga teacher, Aliya Weise has been a student of Sharath Jois for over 10 years. In addition to sharing his teachings around the world, Weise is a Ph.D. candidate at George Washington University with a focus on American literature, critical theory, and posthumanism. He currently teaches at Ashtanga Yoga San Diego.
New York, NY
For over 20 years Annie Piper has been teaching yoga in and around New York City. Initially trained at Cyndi Lee’s OM Yoga, Piper went on to study with David Regelin at Katonah Yoga. Deeply influenced by Qi Gong and other subtle body practices like Reiki, Piper also teaches yoga to actors at the NYU Tisch School for Acting and the Yale School of Drama, using the integration of all of these practices for intelligent sequencing and conscious embodiment. Piper specializes and teaches advanced trainings in understanding how trauma is stored and expressed in the body. In these trainings, her yoga sequencing yoga is designed to support those with high levels of anxiety or have experienced trauma.
Los Angeles, CA
Noah Williams has been teaching Ashtanga yoga for over 20 years. With a background in Tai Chi, Qi Gong, and Tang Soo Do, a Korean martial art, Williams first began practicing Ashtanga with Tim Miller in 1993. He studied annually with Sri K. Pattabhi Jois in Mysore, India, and received his certification to teach in 2001. Since then, Williams has continued his studies both in yoga and in Sanskrit, and now runs a daily Mysore program in Los Angeles.
San Francisco, CA
Janet Stone, a self-identifying “global yoga warrior” and “servant to the breath”, is a world-renowned yoga instructor who has been teaching and practicing for 20 years. Stone has been featured in national yoga magazines and appears as an instructor on Gaia.com. In addition to her popular weekly classes in San Francisco, Stone travels around the world leading retreats and trainings that hinge on asana, mythology, and chanting. Stone has mentored hundreds of teachers around the world.
Joyce Englander Levy
New York City, NY
After eight years of consistent and dedicated practice and six years of teaching in both Miami and Chicago, Joyce Englander Levy moved to New York City to study Ashtanga Yoga with Eddie Stern. As Levy was cultivating her Ashtanga practice, she was growing a large following in New York City, and assisting the teacher training at YogaWorks. After completing the Yoga Shanti teacher training with Colleen Saidman and Rodney Yee, Levy began to teach with them at their Sag Harbor location, and about two years ago opened the studio’s New York City location in partnership with Saidman and Yee. Levy now serves as co-owner and head of teacher training. Levy teaches weekly classes and is known for smart alignment cues and her ability to distill complex postures and teach them as accessible building blocks for yogis of all backgrounds.
San Diego, CA
Up until last year, Goldie Graham was touted as one of Boston’s best yoga teachers. Based now in Southern California, Graham travels around the world leading workshops, intensives, and teacher trainings. Mentored by Les Leventhal and Janet Stone, Graham teaches Vinyasa flow with an emphasis on alignment. Graham is also an active member in The November Project, a free fitness program founded by her husband in Boston. (Sonima has it’s own new workout program called Elev8d Fitness. Check out our 8-minute workouts with this free 14-day trial!)
Desiree Rumbaugh is proof that yoga heals. After tragically losing her 20-year-old son in 2003 , the then Phoenix-based yogi turned to her practice, which she began in 1987, to help her cope with the deepest grief of a bereaved parent. Certified in both Iyengar and Anusara yoga, Rumbaugh began traveling the world teaching yoga workshops and retreats. In the process, she found an inner strength that allowed her “not only to survive, but thrive,” as she writes on her website. “My spiritual journey had officially begun and after almost two years, and thousands of frequent flyer miles, landing into the open hearts of friends and strangers, I realized my son’s death could renew my own life and purpose.” Rumbaugh is the creator of “Yoga to the Rescue ,” a DVD series designed for people who lack flexibility and fitness and/or live with chronic pain (i.e., neck, shoulder, and back pain). She is also a regular contributor to Yoga Journal.
Lauren Walker is a writer, a teacher, and a scholar who has pioneered integrating the worlds of energy work, yoga, and modern medicine. A practitioner of yoga since 1996, Walker has been teaching yoga for nearly 20 years. Originally trained at Integral Yoga Institute New York City, Walker’s method today is called Energy Medicine Yoga, and she has published a book by the same name. Walker teaches workshops and classes around the world, and is a regular presenter at Yoga Journal conferences. Additionally, Walker has been published in The New York Times, The Jerusalem Post, and Salon.com.
Science and religion don’t usually go mix, but for Baxter Bell, M.D. , studying the human anatomy was as important as understanding the human spirit. Pre-med and religious texts bookended his college life. Five years after joining a busy family practice, Bell took up yoga to continue his spiritual pursuit without being tied to a specific religion. In 2000, he signed up for an 18-month advanced studies program at the Piedmont Yoga Studio and simultaneously worked on becoming a medical acupuncturist at the Helms Institute in Berkeley. Bell has studied under Rodney Yee, Patricia Walden, and Erich Schiffmann. As a yoga teacher, who focuses on a healing, nurturing style of Hatha yoga, and a medical acupuncturist, Bell leads teacher trainings across the country that integrate the therapeutic applications of yoga with Western medicine. Bell has appeared in Yoga Journal’s DVD, “Yoga for Stress ,” and blogs on “Yoga for Healthy Aging .”
New York, NY
Kristin McGee first started practicing yoga in the early 1990s as a student at NYU Tisch School for the Arts. She began teaching nearly 20 years ago at small gyms in NYC, and is now a celebrity yoga and Pilates instructor, with clients like Steve Martin and Tina Fey. McGee is the author of dozens of yoga and Pilates DVDs, and has appeared in countless YouTube tutorials and online courses. McGee travels around the world teaching classes, workshops, and retreat, and teaches weekly classes at Equinox in New York City.
Founder of Curvy Yoga, a training and inspiration platform for yoga students and teachers of all sizes, Anna Guest-Jelley has filled a massive gap in the yoga space, championing and celebrating yoga for every body type. Guest-Jelley’s message for women’s empowerment has reached hundreds of teachers and thousands more students world-wide. Through her work at Curvy Yoga, Guest-Jelley leads teacher trainings to help instructors understand how to best serve larger-bodied practitioners. In addition to her incredible work on the mat and in yoga studios, Guest-Jelley is a writer, who’s been featured in Vogue, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and national yoga publications. Additionally, she is the co-editor of the book Yoga and Body Image: 25 Personal Stories About Beauty, Bravery & Loving Your Body.
Russell Case has been practicing and teaching Ashtanga yoga for more than 20 years. A certified teacher through Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, Case is one of the most seasoned Asthanga teachers in the world. A humble and refined teacher, Case is known for his joking spirit, and his perpetual eye toward social justice work. He is the western region program director for the Sonima Foundation, a non-profit program started by Sonima.com founder Sonia Jones, which brings yoga-based exercises and mindfulness into schools. Case is a yoga director for Stanford University, and also serves as a yoga advisor to Sonima.com.
New York, NY
Born in New Dehli, India, Monica Jaggi is a New York-based advanced certified Jivamukti yoga instructor. A student of Sharon Gannon, David Life and Sri Brahmananda Sarasvati through Joan Suval, and a dedicated mentor herself, Jaggi is responsible for training dozens of influential teachers across America and beyond.
With over 275,000 Instagram followers, Patrick Beach’s gravity defying handstands, adventurous spirit and nearly Olympian physique precede him. Trained by Annie Carpenter and Brock and Krista Cahill, Beach teaches a rigorous Vinyasa flow class with an emphasis on strength, alignment, and inversions. Based in Seattle, Beach travels around the world teaching workshops, intensives and trainings, and presenting at conferences. Beach has been featured in top yoga magazines and websites, and is in the process of creating a men’s yoga apparel line launching in April 2016.
New York, NY
Marco Rojas has been teaching Vinyasa yoga for 13 years. First trained by Chuck Miller and Maty Ezraty, Rojas’ classes pull from both Ashtanga and Vinyasa, as well as principles from the Viniyoga methodology. Rojas is considered one of the most influential teachers in New York City, where he teaches at several premier studios. Rojas also leads retreats around the world.
Andrew Hillam started a daily Ashtanga yoga practice in 1994 while studying at the University of Adelaide in South Australia. Since 2001 he has made frequent trips to Mysore, India, to study with the Jois family, and has been granted an advanced certification to teach Ashtanga Yoga. Hillam has continued to study and teach yoga, while also pursuing studies in Vedic chanting and philosophy. For the past six years, Hillam has been leading the Mysore program at Jois Yoga Encinitas, and also serves as an expert yoga advisor for Sonima.com.
New York, NY
Young and humble, Alex Schatzberg has been teaching yoga in New York City for 10 years. Initially a student of Jivamukti and other Vinyasa systems, and a teacher at some of the most premier yoga centers in New York City, Schatzberg found Ashtanga yoga and mentored with Guy Donahye for five years. Last year, Schaztberg opened his own yoga school, New Vibe Yoga, which hosts an esteemed Mysore program. Schatzberg offers guidance and powerful hands-on assists to the many advanced teachers who come to study with him.
New York, NY
Known for her elegant charisma and thoughtful charm, Ally Bogard has been teaching Vinyasa yoga workshops and trainings around the world for over 10 years. A mentor and a teacher based in New York City, Bogard leads weekly yoga and meditation classes for several of New York’s most premier studios and collectives, and she’s the director of Gaitri, a Canadian school of yoga. Bogard also teaches meditation classes for The Path in New York City.
Marina Del Rey, CA
Ashley Turner has been one of the more powerful and influential women in nearly every sector of health and wellness for the past five years. A yoga and meditation instructor, as well as a psychotherapist, counselor, and initiated priestess, Turner leads workshops and trainings around the world. A student of spiritual leader Ram Dass and many of the world’s leading yoga teachers including Sharon Gannon, David Life, Mark Whitwell, and Seane Corn, Turner now shares the dynamic mix of teachings and her own expertise with her students all over the world.
By Shira Atkins