100 trailblazers in yoga & ayurveda.
It can't always have been easy. For as popular as yoga is now, just a few decades ago it was largely unknown on the global stage. Yoga is now a global phenomenon, making its way into the hearts and minds of millions--across cultures, continents, and religious beliefs. With so many people attuned to yoga's transformative powers, there is ample reason to hope that the serenity and insights instilled by yoga practice could in fact bring about a more peaceable world.
Yoga's soaring popularity has generated interest not just in the basic breathing techniques and asanas (physical poses) of the practice, but also in the philosophical and spiritual underpinnings of the ancient practice. It has spawned a growing regard for the principles of Ayurveda, affectionately known as "yoga's sister medicine." Today, about 20 million Americans practice yoga, and Ayurveda is one of the fastest growing medical traditions.
We salute the pioneers whose work has contributed so much to our awareness of yoga and Ayurveda. Through dedication, creativity, and innovation, they are together affecting a sea change in our modern habits of mind and body, and in our collective consciousness.
Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, "Amma"
Spiritual leader, humanitarian, developer of Amrita Yoga LOCATION: Kollam District, Kerala, India
"Love is a universal religion. It is what society really needs," says Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, known more simply as "Amma" ("Mother"). It's an affectionate nickname she earned as a child, when she would embrace people to comfort them. Over the last 30 years, this humanitarian and spiritual leader, called "the hugging saint," has gone on to literally embrace more than 35 million people. "In today's world, people experience two types of poverty: the poverty caused by lack of food, clothing, and shelter, and the poverty caused by lack of love and compassion. Of these two, the second type needs to be considered first because if we have love and compassion in our hearts, then we will wholeheartedly serve those who suffer from lack of food, clothing, and shelter." Her organization, Embracing the World, is a network of local and regional charity organizations that serves in more than 40 countries.
Amrita Yoga, taught at the Amritapuri Ashram, takes Amma's core teachings and techniques and uses them as a foundation for a holistic practice. Amma teaches a simple, traditional style of yoga, integrating the four major paths of yoga into her asana practice: Bhakti Yoga (yoga of devotion), Jnana Yoga (yoga of wisdom). Karma Yoga (yoga of selfless action), and Raja Yoga (yoga of contemplation, creativity, and meditation). Amma is there about four months a year; the rest of the time she is traveling to spread her message of peace, love, compassion and tireless service.
Creator of Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga
LOCATION: Boston, Massachusetts
Growing up with yoga teachers for parents, Baron Baptiste was like so many of us offspring: he figured he'd go in a different direction. Yet he fell in love with teaching and has become one of the world's most influential yoga instructors, helping demystify yoga and popularize it even among groups like the Philadelphia Eagles football team. Via his teacher trainings, popular DVDs, speaking engagements, and workshops in dozens of countries, this bandana-sporting teacher has gained acclaim as one of yoga's best-known advocates and educators.
Baptiste Methodology is not for the meek: It combines classic poses from Ashtanga, Bikram, and Iyengar styles, In a power flow, with the room heated to 90 to 95 degrees. Baptiste founded Baptiste Yoga In the 1980s, with two studios in Boston, and has since expanded to more than 40 locations. It's also taught In affiliate studios all around the world, as well as by Baptiste certified teachers.
Baptiste is the author of Journey into Power: How to Sculpt Your Ideal Body, Free Your True Self, and Transform Your Life with Yoga, and has a new book, Perfectly Imperfect, due out this spring. The Baptiste Foundation is a nonprofit that shares the tools and techniques from Baptiste Yoga, creating yoga and educational programs for communities around the globe.
Chelsea Jackson Roberts, PhD
Yoga teacher, educator, and youth advocate
LOCATION: Atlanta, Georgia
You might recognize Chelsea Jackson Roberts from the May/June cover of Yoga Journal, but she's more than just a pretty visage. She combines her PhD in Educational Studies, an MA from Columbia, training in restorative justice, and her E-RYT and RCYT certifications, creating programs that use yoga to develop literacy.
"I hold workshops for pre-service teachers, current classroom teachers, yoga teachers, and community workers who teach yoga within marginalized communities," she says. "My goal is to share and teach how yoga and other mindful practices can be used as tools for healing, understanding, and communicating. The work I do through our nonprofit, Red Clay Yoga, is also deeply dedicated to holding space and trainings for yoga teachers who work with individuals who have experienced trauma. It is our organization's goal to teach yoga teachers how to share this practice by causing the least amount of harm possible to vulnerable populations."
Dr. Jackson Roberts was a contributing author in Yoga and Body Image: 25 Personal Stories about Beauty, Bravery, and Loving Your Body, and serves as an advisor to the Yoga and Body Image Coalition.
She is also the founder of Yoga, Literature, and Art Camp at Spelman College, held each summer for teen girls. "My goal," she says, "is to push people within the field of education and yoga to rethink the ways in which we connect the two fields when it comes to learning."
David Life and Sharon Gannon
LOCATION: The Catskills, New York
As lithe and stylish as rock stars, David Life and Sharon Gannon are charismatic gurus for our modern world. Gannon, a dancer and musician, and Life, an artist and cafe owner, created Jivamukti Yoga in 1984: it's become one of the most important forms of hatha yoga taught.
The two had studied In India under Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, the founder of Ashtanga, and in upstate New York, where they practiced under Sanskrit and yoga scholar Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati.
Jivamutki yoga philosophy is expressed through five tenets: shastra (scripture), bhakti (devotion), ahimsa (nonviolence/kindness), nada (music) and dhyana (meditation)
These practices are based on Life and Gannon's own personal evolution of yoga, and are taught at Jivamukti yoga centers in locations worldwide, Including the U.S., Australia, Germany, Russia, and Spain. There are six types of classes, for practitioners of all levels.
Life and Gannon continue to lead teacher trainings, satsangs, and education seminars. As part of ahimsa, the nonviolence tenet, the couple has become active In the animal rights movement, encouraging ethical vegetarianism and founding Animal Muktl. Animal Muktl is a free spay and neuter program that has reduced the number of animals euthanized in New York City by 37 percent. The couple also established and maintain a 125-acre safe haven for animals, the Wild Woodstock Jivamukti Forest Sanctuary in the Catskills.
Dr. Vasant Lad, BA, MS, MASc
Author and Ayurvedic physician
LOCATION: Albuquerque, New Mexico, & Pune, India
Ayurveda is the oldest health science on Earth, dating back more than 5,000 years. But when Ayurvedic physician Vasant Lad first came to the US in 1979, few Americans--even the yogurt-making types-had even heard of it. Lad traveled throughout the country, sharing his knowledge, and In 1984 he settled In Albuquerque to create the first and largest center for Ayurvedic studies in the West, the Ayurvedic Institute. (A new sister center, the Vasanta Institute of Ayurveda, just opened in Pune, India.)
Dr. Lad brings a wealth of classroom and practical experience to his students. He holds a Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery degree from the University of Pune, and a Master of Ayurvedic Science. His academic training also includes allopathic medicine (Western medicine) and surgery.
"Ayurvedic is spiritual, practical, and medical," says Lad. "When a client comes to me, I open their doors of perception to these departments of life and that is what truly unfolds spiritual healing. It is based entirely upon meditation, which is moment-to-moment awareness of 'what is' and not running after 'could be'or'should be."'
Dr. Lad has written 11 books, which have been translated into 20 languages, as well as textbooks, and taught via DVD. He may soon become a movie star as well: he is the subject of an upcoming documentary from Substratum Films.
Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa
Cofounder and director of Golden Bridge
LOCATION: Santa Monica, California
When she comes bustling into a room, a tiny figure in flowing white garments, the room seems to grow more electric. Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa is a true master teacher, which is why, for more than four decades, students in Los Angeles and around the world have sought out her Kundalini yoga and meditation classes. She learned directly from Yogi Bhajan, who brought Kundalini to California from India in 1969, who told her, "We have come to create teachers, not to have students."
Gurmukh, who is usually called by her first name, took that to heart, and travels the world sharing Kundalini as taught by Bhajan. She brings training programs to students throughout the US, Mexico. EuroDe. Russia. India, and South Africa. She is the creator and pioneer of the Khalsa Way Prenatal Teachers' Training Immersion and is known for her compassionate work with pre- and postnatal women. Gurmukh opened her first studio in 1985 and went on to create Golden Bridge with her husband, Gurushabd Singh Khalsa. Golden Bridge now has locations in Santa Monica and New York City, both considered preeminent centers for Kundalini studies.
Her book, The Eight Human Talents, has been a longtime yoga best-seller, along with her many DVDs. She is also the founder of Seva Corp., a nonprofit organization that supports schools and orphanages in India.
Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev
Author, humanitarian, and founder of the Isha Foundation
LOCATION: Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, South India
As a young man, Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev zoomed all over the Indian subcontinent on motorcycle expeditions. His forward motion has changed in form these days, but not in intensity. An author, poet, and visionary, Sadhguru, as he is known, is the creator of the Isha Foundation, a volunteer-run, international nonprofit dedicated to cultivating human potential. The foundation has a main Isha Yoga center in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, South India, and 150 city-based centers around the world, including the Isha Institute of Inner-sciences in Tennessee. Isha means "the formless divine."
Sadhguru is a contemporary guru whose work has touched the lives of millions. Named one of India's 50 most influential people, he has the ability to take ancient yoga philosophies and make them seem relevant for life today. As a speaker and opinion maker who addresses issues such as socioeconomic development, ecology, leadership, and spirituality, he has addressed the World Economic Forum, the United Nations, the World Presidents Organization, the British House of Lords, and TED.
"Realization of human potential to the fullest will happen only In going beyond one's compulsive nature of thought, emotion, and action," says Sadhguru. "In this wonderful state of noncompulsive existence, you have the climate for the flowering of the human genius."
He is also a prolific author, having written over 100 publications in eight languages.
Global prana vlnyasa teacher, yogadventurer, and sacred activist
LOCATION: Humallwo (Malibu), California
Whether at large-scale conferences, or unplugged yoga retreats, or in living rooms, via her 25 award-winning DVDs, Shiva Rea has taught thousands of students that movement is life. As founder of Prana Vinyasa and Samudra Global School for Living Yoga, she integrates the roots of vinyasa, yoga, ayurveda, and tantra practices, turning them into creative and life-transforming online courses, workshops, retreats, and trainings. She has been a catalyst with Yoga Energy Activism and the Global Mala Project, raising awareness and funds about local and global climate change. She is also a contributor to publications ranging from Origin, Mantra, and Yoga Journal magazines to Vanity Fair. Her latest book, Tending the Heart Fire--Living in Rhythm with the Pulse of Life, discusses living vinyasa, our energetic heart, and our energy future.
"Every culture, every person, has their 'yoga'--the ways in which they connect to the life-force," says Rea. "At the heart level, we can experience how yoga can help unite us beyond any differences--we all are being moved by the same pulsation of breath. We are all responsible and affected by what happens to our sacred planet. At the core, a great love does unite us even in the face of great challenges. So we need to focus on how yoga can be an agent for positive change in every aspect of our life."
READ MORE ABOUT EACH TRAILBLAZER AT SPIRITUALITYHEALTH.COM/100TRAILBLAZERS
Ayurveda Polarity Therapist
A Ayurveda for Dogs Founder
Bhagavan Das (Dharma Sara)
Soul Kirtan Singer
Emotional Healing Yogi
Advocate of Ayurvedic Medicine Education
Renowned Yoga Instructor
Alternative Medicine Doctor
The Goodness Yogi
Dr. Deepak Chopra
Alternative Medicine Advocate
Danielle Mika Nagel
International Vinyasa Yoga and Meditation Teacher
Yoga to the Rescue Teacher
Founding director of Floracopeia Aromatic Treasures
Dr. David Frawley
"Pandit Vamadeva Shastri"
Deva Premal and Miten
The Teacher of Teachers
Spiritually Fly Yogi
Felicia Marie Tomasko
Yoga and Ayurveda Practitioner
Dr. Jay Apte
Yoga Teacher, Body Positive Advocate
Dr. Jessica Vellela
Ganga White & Tracey Rich
White Lotus Founders
Master Kids' Yoga Teacher
Complementary Medicine Practitioner
Dr. John Doulllard
Judith Hanson Lasater
One of the Founders of Yoga Journal Magazine
The Flexi Foodie
Karina Mirsky: Yoga and Meditation Teacher and Self-Transformation Coach
Author and Yoga Teacher
Tantra & Ayurvedic Practitioner
President of Yoga Anytime
American Yogic Chanting Vocalist
Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary
Larissa Flail Carlson
Ayurvedic Yoga Specialist
Awakening Radiance Yogi
Dr. Marc Halpern
Western Ayurvedic Pioneer
World Peace Leader
Melanie and Robert Sachs
Diamond Way Ayurveda Owners
Vastu Shastra Practitioner
Founder of Dancing Shiva Yoga and Ayurveda
Healthcare Pioneer and Yoga Instructor
Yoga Works Founder
Ayurvedic Wellness Practitioner, Yoga Teacher Trainer
Iyengar Western Pioneer
Ashtanga Yoga Instructor
Dr. Pratima Raichur
Ayurvedic Skin Care Creator
Functional Flow Founder
Para Yoga Founder
Rama Jyoti Vernon
Spiritual Counselor and Yogi A
Roger Gabriel "Raghavanand"
Dr. Rama Prasad
Dr. Robert Svoboda
Ayurvedic Doctor and Author
Healthy Hedonism Lifestyle Leader
Vedic Arts Master
Dr. Sarita Shrestha
Ayurvedic Physician and Ayurvedic OB/GYN A
Scott Cote and Kevin Casey
Founders of Banyan Botanicals
Off The Mat Founder
Dr. Sheila Patel
Medical director at the Chopra Center
Devotional Kirtan Musician and Singer
Sri Dharma Mittra
"The Rock of Yoga"
Sri Siva Sakthi Ammaiyar
The Silent One
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Art of Living Founder and Peace Leader
Dr. Suhas & Manisha Kshirsagar
New Age Yoga Guru
Swami Shankarananda Giri
Kriya Yoga Heir
Strala Yoga Founder
The Age-defying Yogi
Ashtanga Yoga Pioneer
Yirser Ra Hotep
Kemetic Yoga Pioneer
Dr. Valencia Porter
Integrative and Holistic Practitioner
Yoglraj Alan Finger
Ishta Yoga Founder
Caption: SHIVA REA
Please note: Illustration(s) are not available due to copyright restrictions.
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|Title Annotation:||SPONSORED CONTENT|
|Author:||O'Connor, Bess; Wagner, Kathryn Drury|
|Publication:||Spirituality & Health Magazine|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2016|
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