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100 trailblazers in yoga & ayurveda.

If you've ever been to a candlelight service, you know how the magic works: A glow starts small and gets passed, from person to person, until the whole room Is shining. The people we've profiled in this special section are remarkable because they are not only the source of a glow--a flame of creativity, knowledge, and wisdom-- but they are also conduits, making sure that the flame gets passed along to others.

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.

Baron Baptiste

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.

Shiva Rea

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."


Amadea Morningstar

Ayurveda Polarity Therapist

Amanda Ringnalda

A Ayurveda for Dogs Founder

Amy Ippoliti

Wildspirit Yogi

Bhagavan Das (Dharma Sara)

Counterculture Icon

Brent BecVar

Vedlc Astrologer

C.C. White

Soul Kirtan Singer

Ana Forrest

Emotional Healing Yogi

Andrew Sealy

Yoga Artist

Cate Stillman

Yoga Healer

Celest Pereira

Founder. Cityogi

Acharya Shunya

Advocate of Ayurvedic Medicine Education

Chuck Miller

Renowned Yoga Instructor

Claire Diab

Zen Yogi

David Swenson

Ashtanga Yogi

Claudia Welch

Alternative Medicine Doctor


Meditation Teacher

Cyndi Lee

The Goodness Yogi

Dr. Deepak Chopra

Alternative Medicine Advocate

Danielle Mika Nagel

International Vinyasa Yoga and Meditation Teacher

Desiree Rumbaugh

Yoga to the Rescue Teacher

David Crow

Founding director of Floracopeia Aromatic Treasures

Dr. David Frawley

"Pandit Vamadeva Shastri"

Deva Premal and Miten

Mantra Musicians

Donna Farhi

The Teacher of Teachers

Elena Brower

Mama Yogini

Faith Hunter

Spiritually Fly Yogi

Felicia Marie Tomasko

Yoga and Ayurveda Practitioner

Dr. Jay Apte

Ayurvedic Doctor

Jessamyn Stanley

Yoga Teacher, Body Positive Advocate

Dr. Jessica Vellela

Ayurvedic Physician

Ganga White & Tracey Rich

White Lotus Founders

Jodi Komitor

Master Kids' Yoga Teacher

Guru Singh

Yogic Musician

James Bailey

Complementary Medicine Practitioner

Dr. John Doulllard

Ayurvedic Practitioner

Judith Hanson Lasater

One of the Founders of Yoga Journal Magazine

Julie Montagu

The Flexi Foodie

Karina Mirsky: Yoga and Meditation Teacher and Self-Transformation Coach

Kathryn Budig

Author and Yoga Teacher

Kathryn Templeton

Psychotherapist Yogi

Katie Silcox

Tantra & Ayurvedic Practitioner

Kino MacGregor

KinoYoga Founder

Kira Sloane

President of Yoga Anytime

Krishna Das

American Yogic Chanting Vocalist

Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary

Integrative Neurologist

Lamonte Goode

Gravity-Defying Yogi

Larissa Flail Carlson

Ayurvedic Yoga Specialist

Laura Plumb

Awakening Radiance Yogi


Sanskrit Expert

Dr. Marc Halpern

Western Ayurvedic Pioneer

Marc Holzman

Guerilla Yogi

Maya Tiwari

World Peace Leader

Melanie and Robert Sachs

Diamond Way Ayurveda Owners

Michael Mastro

Vastu Shastra Practitioner

Mas Vidal

Founder of Dancing Shiva Yoga and Ayurveda

Matthew Sanford

Healthcare Pioneer and Yoga Instructor

Maty Ezraty

Yoga Works Founder

Myra Lewin

Ayurvedic Wellness Practitioner, Yoga Teacher Trainer

Patricia Walden

Iyengar Western Pioneer

Patty Townsend

Embodyoga Developer

Petri Ralsanen

Ashtanga Yoga Instructor

Dr. Pratima Raichur

Ayurvedic Skin Care Creator

Robyn Capobianco

Functional Flow Founder

Rod Stryker

Para Yoga Founder

Rachel Brathen

Yoga Teacher

Rama Jyoti Vernon

Spiritual Counselor and Yogi A

Rodney Yee

Galam Yogi

Roger Gabriel "Raghavanand"

Meditation Teacher

Dr. Rama Prasad

Ayurvedic Doctor

Dr. Robert Svoboda

Ayurvedic Doctor and Author

Russell Simmons

Yogi Mogul

Sadie Nardini

Healthy Hedonism Lifestyle Leader

Sanjeev Verma

Vedic Arts Master

Dr. Sarita Shrestha

Ayurvedic Physician and Ayurvedic OB/GYN A

Scott Cote and Kevin Casey

Founders of Banyan Botanicals

Seane Corn

Off The Mat Founder

Dr. Sheila Patel

Medical director at the Chopra Center

Siri Peterson

Therapeutic Yogi

Snatam Kaur

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

Ayurvedic Flealers

Suneel Singh

New Age Yoga Guru

Swami Shankarananda Giri

Kriya Yoga Heir

Tara Stiles

Strala Yoga Founder

Tao Porchon-Lynch

The Age-defying Yogi

Tim Miller

Ashtanga Yoga Pioneer

Yirser Ra Hotep

Kemetic Yoga Pioneer

Dr. Valencia Porter

Integrative and Holistic Practitioner

Vivek Shanbhag

Naturopathic Doctor

Yoglraj Alan Finger

Ishta Yoga Founder

Caption: SHIVA REA


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Author:O'Connor, Bess; Wagner, Kathryn Drury
Publication:Spirituality & Health Magazine
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Jan 1, 2016
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