When we had the idea to have an article about amazing yoga teachers, we knew from the start it would be futile to have a ranking system to it. Every yoga teacher lends their personal touch in teaching their respective styles and practice of yoga. So instead, we created an alphabetically ordered list of 10 teachers that have significantly influenced the world of yoga in their very own way.
If you’ve been practicing yoga for some time, you might already be familiar with some of the yogis on this list. Some of you are probably even lucky enough to have trained and practiced with them.
This list is in no way aiming to be exhaustive, but is meant to present 10 amazing yoga teachers who have inspired us and many, many others with their yoga practice.
Style: Forrest Yoga
Ana Forrest is a true yoga legend – She created Forrest Yoga in 1982, guided by 4 principles: Breath, Strength, Integrity, and Spirit. Though her style takes elements from Ashtanga Vinyasa, Sivananda, and Iyengar, Forrest Yoga is known for its intensity, long hold of positions, core strength, and learning to connect with emotions to survive and cope with physical and emotional trauma. Ana became a certified instructor at the age of 18, and is internationally known for her work in yoga and healing. Her credentials, media coverage, and accolades, however extensive, are only a small testament to the wonderful, transformative work she’s been doing for almost 40 years.
Style: Vinyasa Flow, Fit Flow
Inversion goddess Briohny Smyth is an LA-based yoga teacher known for her penchant for arm balances, inversions, and her Equinox videos with her husband and fellow yoga instructor, Dice Iida-Klein. She first learned yoga in Thailand in 1999, and now teaches her trademark Fit Flow Yoga classes in LA. Fit Flow is a combination of Flow yoga and alignment instruction. She and her husband conduct Fit Flow workshops, retreats, and classes as they travel the world.
(Photo by Jasper Johal)
Style: Ashtanga (Power)
Bryan Kest is the pioneer of Ashtanga yoga in America. He started out with yoga at age 14 and has been teaching since 1985. Bryan studied in India with K. Pattabhi Jois, who's one of the biggest advocates of Ashtanga yoga. "My primary objective", says Kest, "besides turning more and more people on to a healthier, more peaceful lifestyle that continually challenges them to grow, is to teach a system of exercise that fully integrates the body, mind, and spirit." Bryan Kest has published quite a number of books and DVDs.
(Photo by Bertold Fabricius)
San Francisco-based yogini Janet Stone began her journey and formal yoga training in India in 1996, where she first learned and explored Vinyasa. Her teaching style is a vigorous yet delicious mix of Vinyasa yoga, chanting, breath and movement, awareness, heart, and humor. Janet, along with her work, has been featured in several publications like Yoga Journal, Elephant Journal, and Flow Yoga magazine. She currently leads a 200-hour Vinyasa teacher training program, teaches classes, and conducts workshops and retreats in US, Mexico, and India.
(Photo by Kadri Kurgun)
Style: Ashtanga, Mysore
Kino MacGregor started practicing yoga at the age of 19, and after 3 years of Mysore and Ashtanga practice, she spent 7 years on consistent trips to Mysore to devote herself to the study of Ashtanga. At 29, she received Certification to teach Ashtanga yoga from its creator, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, and now practices through Ashtanga Fourth Series. Kino has a very sizable followership on YouTube and has reached close to 5 million views with her amazingly insightful videos. She has authored 2 books, produced 6 Ashtanga Yoga DVDs, co-founded Miami Life Center, and founded Miami Yoga Magazine. She conducts teacher trainings, workshops, and retreats all over Asia, Europe, and the Americas.
Style: Vinyasa / Flow
The often shirtless, tattooed and infectiously playful Les Leventhal is a remarkable yogi with an unusual background. He is a former competitive swimmer who found yoga one random day when he decided to join a yoga class taught by Steph Snyder. Coming from a rigorous training background, it was Snyder’s sense of humor that encouraged him to “back off and let go.” Les has trained and taught with Ana Forrest, and currently conducts Yoga Alliance teacher training programs, as well as workshops and retreats all over US.
New Age yoga teacher Rodney Yee is an Iyengar yoga legend. He rose to fame in the 90’s when he starred in a series of yoga DVDs and instructional videos produced by Gaiam/Living Arts. Rodney developed his love for yoga through Iyengar, which he now teaches with a combination of his personal style. He has appeared on Oprah and numerous other national TV shows in the US and currently conducts teacher training programs and workshops (Yoga Shanti, Urban Zen Integrative Therapy, etc.) as well as teaching classes in conferences all over the world.
Style: Core Strength Vinyasa
Sadie is a Brooklyn-based rockstar yoga teacher and wellness expert with a huge fan base online. Her fierce and urban style of yoga is refreshingly different and she's great at sharing her insights and inspiring people with her practice. Sadie is also the founder of Core Strength Vinyasa Yoga. She spent 19 years studying nutrition, philosophy, anatomy, and yogic disciplines and arts, and is famous for her ability to infuse and share this in-depth knowledge with fun and hip methods to make yoga and wellness accessible. She has written several books, writes for international yoga and wellness publications, teaches at Omega and Kripalu centers, and conducts teacher training certification programs, classes and workshops all over US and Canada.
Style: Prana Flow, Transformational Vinyasa Flow
Shiva Rea! What would this list be without one of the most inspiring, energetic and innovative yoga teachers out there? Shiva Rea created Prana Flow Yoga, and is known for her teaching style that can be described as a synergy of the roots of yoga and prana flow as it is best applied in the modern world. Through this method, Shiva advances a creative, dynamic, and transformative way of doing yoga (Yoga Trance Dance, anyone?) that truly encompasses the physical, mental, and spiritual levels of being. She writes for several publications including Yoga Journal and conducts teacher training programs all over the globe.
Style: No specific style/school
American model-turned-yogini/teacher Tara Stiles is known for being one of the first teachers to effectively use social media to draw people into yoga. She does an amazing job at making yoga and healthy living insights and ideas accessible to thousands of people online. Tara is Deepak Chopra’s personal instructor, and co-founder (with her yogi husband) of Strala, a yoga studio in New York. She’s been featured in magazines, appeared in numerous print and TV ads, and written a best-selling book, “Slim Calm Sexy.” She conducts training workshops and teaches classes at Strala.
Keeping this list to a maximum of 10 names was not an easy task, but it’s a fantastic testament to the fact that we have a wealth of wonderful, empowering yoga teachers who dedicate their lives to sharing their knowledge and spreading the love for this wonderful practice. If you have practiced or trained with someone that you believe deserves a mention, feel free to let us know via comments below.