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The Problem With Making Top Yoga Teacher Lists And Building False Pedestals

in Featured, YD News, Yogitorials
100-sonima

image via sonima.com

Some people’s yoga teaching fees just went up. And others are wondering what “influence” would have landed them on the list. That list being the 100 Most Influential Yoga Teachers in America dropped yesterday by the Associate Editor of Sonima, the blog component of the Sonima Foundation, formerly known as the Jois Foundation, the non-profit arm to Jois Yoga, the home of Ashtanga from their late founder Pattabhi Jois. They have their own #Sonima100 hashtag and everything.

You might have seen this list because your favorite teacher was tagged in a post on facebook. Let’s first raise a glass of wheatgrass and cheers those who did make the list. It’s an honor to be singled out for being good at what you do and included amongst peers in your field you might admire or may have even studied under. I’m sure you have lots of students who have been inspired, encouraged, maybe even enlightened, by your teaching and that’s something worthy of appreciation.

But here’s the thing about lists. They’re subjective. They’re exclusive. They’re created by an assumed authority on the topic and usually you end up with one group elated (those included) and another group thinking wtf (the ones left out). In this case, I’m not entirely sure why a list is even necessary, or wanted. Just as we’re all trying to step away from guru worship and setting a better precedent for the student-teacher relationship sans pedestals, we’re presented with a fresh list of 100 of them to follow, seek and glorify. Then again, we all need our heroes, don’t we? Who will be our role models, now that our role models are gone?

Which brings me to the glaring omission. There is no Bikram Choudhury. Sure, not surprising in light of all the rape lawsuits. But there are also NO Bikram teachers on the list at all. I repeat, there are no teachers on the list who teach arguably the most popular style in the country, or at least the name everyone has heard of (I still get the, Oh, you practice yoga? Do you do Bikram? All. The. Time.)

So who’s on the list? There’s the revered old school (Dharma Mittra, Richard Freeman, Judith Hanson Lasater), the hip old school (Shiva Rea, Rodney Yee), the hip new school (Kathryn Budig, Tara Stiles) and the rest, a fine mix of popular teachers and up-and-comers making moves on Instagram. (It’s nice Anna Guest-Jelley of Curvy Yoga was the one teacher included to represent curvy bodies and the positive body image movement.) Sonima notes that the list is not exhaustive, which is clear, but shutting out an entire style seems a bit odd, especially when they made sure to include a good portion of their own. Of the 100 teachers mentioned, 37 of them either teach Ashtanga or have been heavily influenced by it. But that’s ok. That’s why I wouldn’t ask Lululemon for their list of America’s top 10 favorite yoga pants.

For those who didn’t make the list, should they feel any less influential and valuable? Should they work harder to get their name cast in an arbitrary spotlight? This is 2016’s list. Who knows who will drop a few notches or who will be lucky enough to edge out someone else to make the cut next year. Which is really my point. A Sonima disclaimer concedes: “yoga’s landscape is vast and more multifaceted than ever, and there are more inspiring teachers doing good work than we can name here.” So, I have to ask, why try?

Again, praising yoga teachers for being good at what they do and positively affecting their students is not where I take issue. It’s about the list, the deducing of yoga teachers to a popularity contest, which in part just adds to the west’s obsession with idolatry and building pedestals where they needn’t be built (especially in the growing commercialization of yoga).

Or maybe I’m just being crotchety and need to practice my foot in mouth pose.

In any case…

If you’re reading this and you’ve made it this far, allow me to suggest the next time you see your yoga teacher, the one who encouraged you to stop criticizing yourself, the one who helped you relieve some pain in your back, neck, elbow, or your heart, tell them how much you appreciate them, how much of an impact they’ve had on you. Go beyond the class-closing “namaste” and “thank you.” They may not get the extra bucks on the festival circuit, but they will be so happy you let them know. And you didn’t even have to make a list about it.

~

hollypenny is a writer, yoga practitioner and all-around inquisitive gal living in New York City. (Full disclosure: She does not practice Bikram Yoga.)

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81 comments… add one
  • Tamar

    Thank you.

    • Ummm…what I learned from this article is that if I want to be an influential yoga teacher in America I pretty much need to be white and practice Ashtanga/Jivamukti yoga and/or have a ton of instagram followers.

      • yoga_dude

        Just like the typical cover of Yoga Journal.

  • Thanks for writing this. I found myself thinking about this top-100 list a lot yesterday, and couldn’t understand why I felt so bothered by it. On the one hand, I was happy to see a lot of my friends, colleagues and peers on the list, but on the other hand I felt a bit bummed that I wasn’t on the list. Which is a bit hard to admit publicly… but it’s true. I know that I’ve made valuable contributions to yoga in America, especially through the in-depth functional anatomy program that I’ve been offering to yoga teachers for going on 10 years now, and I know that my students and colleagues appreciate the work that I do, even if the folks at Sonima Foundation don’t know who I am. And how many other teachers have quietly made major contributions who weren’t recognized? I can personally think of dozens.

    It did get me thinking, though… why do I care about this? As you stated, it is a totally subjective list, with very subjective criteria. If I’m evolved in my practice, shouldn’t I just be able to shrug off such things and attribute my negative reaction as an ego-based desire for praise and approval? But there’s always more work to do on this path. On a positive note, reading the list and being with my reaction to it has resulted in a rededication/recommitment to practice and service, which is ultimately more important than being on someone’s top 100 list.

    Thanks for posting this and giving me a chance to share 😉

  • Nice piece, Holly. I’m agree with every sentiment above. One thing was omitted, from my perspective, however: these lists are also often marketing tools for the website making them. IF you can get 100 teachers with social media clout and awareness to promote your brand, well—not having practiced Ashtanga for many years (and really not doing it much do to perpetual knee problems), I was not aware of this foundation or site. Now I am, because of this list. It’s a modern way of proselytizing, and given how much people enjoy making it onto lists (no criticism, just human nature, this one was very successful.

    • Fact Check

      To imply that all 100 teachers listed have “social media clout” is dubious. If that were the criteria, you may have made the list.

  • Lily

    I would like to hear about more teachers who are not in NY and CA.

    • Angie

      I agree.

    • susanne

      Boulder,CO
      Charlottesville, VA
      Chicago
      hawaii
      i think there are plenty on the list

      • Jenny

        I see one Chicago teacher….one…..in a city filled with brilliance. The Midwest in general is not represented and its vast people.

    • Kim

      Yes! I live in the South and I was like great, they have like ten people not in NY, CA and most of them are in Colorado.

  • Funny, until I saw this article, I had no idea there was a top 100 list anywhere and so didn’t care about it.

    Having read the article, I still don’t care about it. I have no idea whether my teachers made the list or not and don’t care if they did or not. I’m quite sure that I’m not on the list but I guess I could be, also—you guessed it—don’t care.

    Jai Bhagwan
    Ramdas

    Invest your energy in what you want to see. Don’t be anti-war. Be pro-peace.

  • I’m also not comfortable with creating a “Top 100” list of yoga teachers. Lists such as these mainly serve to foster the idea that there’s an “in” group and an “out” group of teachers, kind of like yoga high school. As the author states, it is not only subjective, but it fosters comparison and competition. All teachers bring different gifts to the table. How can you compare a teacher’s influence in the lives of students except by quantifying the number of workshops and festivals they teach? A teacher’s sphere of influence can be as much a function of a charismatic personality as it is predicated on their mastery as a teacher. There are many teachers who have no desire to break into the yogalebrity circuit whose influence on their students, day to day, is profound and life-changing.

    Still, if such a list is to be gathered, I was disappointed by a few glaring omissions. While it is lovely to see some well-deserved inclusions on this list such as Judith Lasater, Patricia Walden and Genny Kapuler, I’m surprised that highly influential teachers such as Angela Farmer and Donna Farhi are not recognized for their unique, and highly influential, contributions.

    • Not Global

      The list is limited to those “in America”. Both Angela Farmer and Donna Farhi are not based out of America to the best of my knowledge.

      • Thanks. I am aware that neither Angela nor Donna live in the U.S. They both teach in the U.S. though, so it would make sense to include them.

        • Not Global

          That’s a nice sentiment, but practically difficult. Each teacher was listed with a designated hometown. What would their hometown be, “Kripalu”? I think they were fair. Consider that this list was compiled by a foundation related to what was formerly the Jois Foundation, and they did not even list Sharath Jois, who also teaches in the US at times.

  • Good article, I had a whole speech laid out but I’ll just say I definitely see your point and leave it at that. 😀

  • Good blog post. It is helpful to separate the practice of yoga (teaching and practicing) from the need for teachers to market (and somehow be validated while still holding the ego in check). As we all know, it’s difficult to earn a living wage doing this, and many teachers might perceive financial benefit to being on a list like this.
    However, you are right on – the best thing that any teacher can hear is a student saying “thank you”. I recently had a private client in his 70s call me out of the blue and say “thank you. I thought I’d never hit a golf ball again. I just hit a bucket of balls at the driving range because I’ve been doing the work you gave me for the last 6 months.” It gave me a smile that has lasted a month!

  • Spread Your Wings Not Your Legs

    THIS IS HILARIOUS — BUT THE COMMENTARIES ARE WORSE. All American yoga has is “subjective” assessments. There’s zero commitment to objectively assessing anything. We might actually have to separate the wheat from the chaff –and we can’t have that, that’s too
    judgmental. So the Jois Foundation is in a position to objectively assess teachers? LMAO. Oh, and a rival lineage like Bikram is NOT represented. Oh my God, I’m just shocked. THIS IS FUCKING PATHETIC.

    This is all driven from the top of the food chain based on the most materialistic criteria — celebrity, exposure, social media, the usual. It might as well be the top 100 Escorts. AND YOU’RE LIKELY TO HAVE A BETTER TIME

    HOW about the 30,000 WORST yoga teachers?

    • Spread Wings Not Untruths

      There are many teachers on the list based on merit and nothing to do with celebrity, exposure or social media.

      • Spread Your Wings Further

        This is really an “Inside Yoga, Inc.” exercise. The vast majority of American yoga practitioners, even avid ones, would not recognize most of these names. These luminati have no “influence” whatsoever — but they are certainly bankable, have dedicated followings, and are among the Yoga 1%, income-wise. Most people are too busy making a living and trying to take care of their mind, bodies and souls — and their families. I had two “influential” teachers back in the late 1990s. They have since fled for their spiritual lives. Most sane people have.

        • Puzzled

          They have no “influence”, yet “have dedicated followings”. Is that a riddle?

          • Spread Your Wings Further

            It doesn’t reflect adherence to a style or method of yoga — or even to a person’s spiritual message — which they don’t generally have anyway. It’s a form of id0l worship driven from the psyche of the devotee. It may just mean they are a follower of someone’s Facebook page. That they bought a Yogitoes or tend to take their online classes. Maybe they just need to bask in a quasi-celebrity’s social media glow and share that their friends to show how “cool” they are, by virtue of a virtual association. They are also quite fickle. One week it’s Tara, another week it’s Kathryn. Oh, the choices!

          • Spread Your Wings Further

            These 100 people — and maybe another 1,000 teachers at the top of the yoga food chain — don’t have any organic relationship, spiritual or even commercial, to the vast majority of yoga practitioners — zilch. These followings are a very limited consumer experience, just as reading Yoga Dork is. You need to get out more with the masses. So does Yoga Dork, for that matter, and really report on what yoga means to most real people — not just the panoply of guru glee clubs in the big media markets.

          • Wingnut

            With reference to the Winged comments below: It’s like complaining about a list of influential artists because it does not represent those who buy mass produced artwork. You obviously missed the point of the list. However, since you are the self appointed expert on these matters, why don’t you enlighten us as to “what yoga means to most people”.

  • quite a few Anusara teachers on the list but no John Friend (another disgraced but influential “guru”). and might I note that the “best yoga teachers” in the world do not seek fame or fortune so they will never make one of these lists.

    • Formerly Anusara

      Of those that had a past connection to Anusara, I do not believe any of them would classify themselves currently as “Anusara teachers”. Sianna Sherman does not even list any of her yoga influences. How truly mythical.

    • Baffled

      Sandra, by your logic, all the “best yoga teachers” are relatively unknown. Guess that leaves out Pattabhi Jois and BKS Iyengar.

  • Asananine

    Some of the points are valid. However, there are countless lists naming the top 10-100 yoga blogs, yet I don’t recall any posts with the same degree of analysis.

  • Neal Pollack

    I wuz robbed

  • …wait, what? People still do yoga?!?

    • VQ2

      Well, sort of. Some go in and out on it. And, by the way, some of the teachers have the most apocryphal influences. Some respected teachers-of-now-hot-teachers, are not and never have been credited or mentioned. If a school is going to go the “lineage” approach, it should be across-the-board. What I mean is, there are some legendary hatha and vinyasa schools among the non-mentioned influences. Some websites with tens of thousands of online followers are not mentioned. And there seems to be a surfeit of Ashtanga teachers who did make the list, that are far from household names. Well, good for them.

      • S.

        I knew who Sardini was, just trying to reinforce the point that a shameless internet MLM Facebook “yoga” hack has no place for being honored in any list of top teachers. Even though the concept of such a list is absurd. Equally happy that Erin “I use yoga to sell TyKu Sake” Motz was snubbed as well.

  • JT

    The yogis on this list have definitely left a mark in the Yoga world. Yes, there are many others that could be added. There will always be some left off a list, whether on purpose or due to limitations. Don’t begrudge the members of this list because they have influenced. Feel free to make your own list. And No, I don’t believe Bikram is the most popular form of Yoga today. Is it really all about which style we practice or just the fact that we practice. Everyone will find what style feels good to them and maybe this list will help find that style. Do the practice.

  • Phillip R

    I think there are a few very important points to remember here before getting too bent into or out of shape about this list.
    1) Like every “best of the year” list published each December, there is no official judge. Selection is totally dependent upon the maker(s) of the list. Anyone else can make their own list at any time and publish it however they’d like— and it will likely be a reflection of their views and values. To be clear though, this is not a best or worst list, see #3.
    2) The paragraphs leading up to the list contain some important information about the list. They clarify “influential” and also somewhat contradict the “Most” qualifier in the headline by stating “The following list highlights 100 influential yoga teachers…”
    3) Highlighting someones perceived level of influence does not make them “most” influential and it most certainly does not make them “best” or “worst” at anything. Influence is far easier to measure objectively than best-ness or worst-ness though their methodologies aren’t defined enough to make even a casual determination of their objectivity. The best/worst vs influential distinction seems to be lost on many readers.
    Perhaps a better title would have been along the lines of “100 American Yoga Teachers who are Leaving Their Mark on Yoga in America”

  • Like Charlotte said, while it’s nice to see some of my favorite teachers on this list, these lists only perpetuate the idea that there are teachers who are “cool” and “in” and those who are not. Many teachers that these list compilers will never hear about help people transform their lives on a daily basis. I taught yoga at a domestic violence shelter for 10 years before “trauma sensitive yoga” became a thing. Like the old saying goes, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.”

    For 10 years in India I have met more than a few yogis solely by chance who gave me profound and potent wisdom. These lists are only popularity contests. I was told once that few sign up for my trainings because I’m not “well known” like X or Z. So I am supposed to just quit teaching because I’m a yoga nobody?

    • zev

      No don’t quit! But don’t begrudge someone with a following. Choose your own path, there are many.

  • Janice

    I had a good belly laugh with this one because it made me realize – admittedly with some smug glee – how out of touch I am with the contemporary popular yoga scene! I don’t know half the people on this list. I did notice my heart sink, however, when I did not find luminaries like Rama Jyoti Vernon, Nischala Joy Devi, Donna Farhi, Angela Farmer on there…yes, it is subjective and I know that all the flash and glam and savvy yoga marketing alliances for these ‘best of’ lists cannot erase the powerful influence these women have had, yet, it saddens me to see the lack of awareness that is revealed…

  • pal

    in no hierarchy and with mispellings: siva, sivam, light, silence, joy, dattatreya, vyasa, patanjali, krsna, babaji nagaraj, winds, parvati, tirumular, boganathar, marpa, milarepa, narada, narayana, avaiyar, lopamudra, agastyar, mahavira, ganesa, visnu, drona, siddartha gautama, valmiki, hemachandra, durga, goraksanath, bliss, bhairavi, bharava, [and 77 more].. lists are the common part of yoga and hindu ok; you’re at the top of the lists for being honest about everything.

  • I was shocked that there was exactly one black person on this list. Really?

    • S.

      Equally shocking is exactly one person of Indian descent on this list (the Jivamukti white people who renamed themselves don’t count).

      • Shocked?

        How about suggesting some teachers instead of telling us how shocking it is.

        • S.

          Aadil Palkhivala (whose quote “True yoga is not about the shape of your body, but the shape of your life” is plastered on every DoYogaWithMe.com, Yoga International, etc. meme on the internet). And Kofi Busia, one of Iyengar’s first line of students who has much more influence than Carrie Owerko. Shocked you didn’t know.

          • Shocked?

            Am in full agreement with you on Kofi Busia and would swap him for Carrie in a heartbeat. Aadil is a worthy addition as well. That was very constructive and Thank You for sharing your knowledge and valid insight.

  • Morgan M

    There not frikkin’ yoga teachers… they’re asana teachers. You can’t teach union, you have to be it.

    The best teacher is the one that gets out of the way of the student. The best student is the one that gets out of his or hers own way.

  • Northern Harrier

    I don’t think Bikram should be in the consideration even though they are the biggest brand. How could you possibly distinguish one teacher from another teaching the Bikram method when each class is exactly the same? By the perfect recitation of the same script or the perfect timing of the perfected sequence? Anything that varies from the sequence and script is no longer the Bikram method in which case it becomes hot yoga and hot yoga is represented on the list.

    In general I find these lists suspect. For alot of them charisma is a key factor and that is usually a cue to be cautious. Not saying everyone here is suspect but that this list doesn’t have that much meaning in terms of the real impacts of us yoga teachers and what we do day to day that no one will ever know about. I don’t intend to ever be on one.

  • Ardhachandra

    There was a moment in Bill Moyers interview series with Joseph Campbell (The Power of Myth) when the truth of temporal fame/power/kingship(queenship?) is revealed through the story of Indra, the most powerful, illustrious ruler of them all. We’ve all heard of Indra’s net. Shiva (I think it is) points to the ants marching across the floor. “Indras all.” Enjoy the peacock parade, but do know it for what it is.

  • Ardachandra

    Bill Moyers, in his interviews with Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth, brought Campbell to the story of Indra, (remember Indra’s net?), an incredibly powerful ruler, who was brought face to face with mortality and the limits of mortal power. In a blinding moment with Shiva (I think it was Shiva), Indra is asked to look at the ants marching across a marble floor. And Shiva remarks, “Indras all.” We are in time and out of time, simultaneously. This yoga world that has evolved over the past 50 – 60 years places far too much emphasis on the “in time” side of the scale. Yoga “Rock Star” will look quaint in 50 years, and yet it has meaning for many people right now. There is much to learn and to do in time, but the true unfolding does not happen there.

    • Ahdhachandra

      Ooops. Thought the first post had been lost. Sorry for the redundancy.

  • mary

    thank you.
    lists are limiting.
    pedestals are a direct link to disappointment.
    teachers living their yoga need neither recognition or inclusion.
    we are ONE.

  • Thank you. I noticed the Bias immediately and also thought, are there any teachers that don’t live in Ca or NY?

  • Oh, God, not another list of the haves, which in doing so points out the have nots. It could use a rename: The Most Popular and Recognized Yoga Teachers. But that wouldn’t be true either because those that have been recently vilified but have decades of popularity within the yoga world were omitted. So, I have a thought: Keep the list in your head, don’t share it. Count the names at night like you would count sheep to fall asleep. It’s boring and it only creates more classism within the hearts and minds of teachers and practitioners. Just do like Pattabhi Jois said, “Practice and all is coming.” ‘Nuff said.

    • Tempest in a Teapot

      The reality is that a significant portion of the teachers on this list will never be invited to a Yoga Journal or Wanderlust Conference. Life will go on for them as if there never was a list. They deserve the small morsel of recognition. Your analysis that this will create classism is justified by some of the comments here and I like your advice. It is also true that many on the list are already the beneficiaries of conference and workshop invites. Life will proceed for them as well on the same trajectory, list or no list. As to those who will get a bump in their salary as a result of the list, I say congratulations!

  • Henry Wallace

    Somewhere in a Manhattan loft, alone and and snockered on cheap wine, poor Sadie Nardini is crying her eyes out…..

    • S.

      Who is Sadie Nardini?

      • VQ2

        Sadie Nardini is a philosophical soul who actually teaches, but never formally studied, pilates (or at least a steroidal form of it). It’s too late for her to compete with the likes of Cassey Ho; and she would not be able to fully express all that she has to offer. Better off she did not make the list, even though she calls what she teaches, “yoga”.

  • Julie

    Nice reflection! Personally, I feel we need to steer clear of the “cult of celebrity.”

  • Oh boy, what to say. This list is an indication that yoga has completely been commercialized. Top 100 list?? What if you don’t make the list, are you not as good? Yoga is not a competition.

    • Yoga Reality

      Yoga is not a competition, but yoga teaching is. Even at the most basic level of any studio, there is a natural competition for prime teaching slots.

  • Genevieve Guenther

    There was something deeply suspect about this list: every teacher wrote their own blurb. Did anyone else notice that? I mean, I don’t have hard evidence, but it’s clear that each teacher’s entry was written in a discrete style and distinctive tone, deploying vocabulary that (if you’ve ever practiced with any of these people) you’d heard the teacher him- or herself use in the studio or shala. So that leads me to suspect that the Sonima Foundation got a publicist to compile the list and contact the teachers themselves for material to be included. Which then leads me to think that this list might be more about the Foundation, and its attempt to establish itself as an authority on “American Yoga,” than about the yoga teachers or even yoga itself…

    • So What?

      Not sure if I agree, but even if a publicist compiled the list, that does not invalidate it. If ballots were distributed at every yoga studio, people would still be complaining. People complain about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. That is the inherent problem with lists or awards.

  • merritt

    Well, there were a lot of really wonderful teachers on that list and it was nice to see some of them we no longer get to see them since we no longer go to Mysore.
    My teacher was on that long list but didn’t make the short one and I’m sure she has no idea or would really care much. When i moved to Maui in 2002 to study with her she was not even listed in the phone book, let alone any social media. She does now have a website but very minimal. I remember when she started teaching off island, around the world, and it was with no desire for celebrity but out of a deep desire to help student who were being hurt by yoga teachers. I know when i get time to tell her about the article she will be happy for all those who were listed.
    To those who are in small towns and don’t get recognized for all the love they give, i personally say THANK YOU and ALOHA.

  • Well, you would have made the list if you followed the Yogadawg 12 step plan to yoga stardom… http://yogadawg.com/steps.htm

  • Carlos

    I think it’s nice to receive recognition from you peers for the work and contribution one puts in from their efforts. But as well an article like this one is falls into the category of magazine Headline. The title is merely to draw attention for the magazine and article. It’s a tactic that has been used all to well for a long time. By its nature TOP Whatever lists always draw interest and usually a debate on the choices the writer has chosen to include or not include. It also comes across as a an authority on the subject.
    The Yoga community doesn’t need more of these sorts of top lists. It draws up too much sensitivity and alienates others. Although in a yoga world where many teachers make a fair good living by their recognition this sort of list only encourages and builds up the idea of a “Star” type individual.
    Look into your own community of teachers and continue support those in your local yoga community because those are the ones that need your support. The unsung heroes that more than likely have made a difference in your life and practice.

    many are making a good living being rewarded for recognition which leads to a an in demand teaching schedule

  • Love this post.
    Bravo.
    “But here’s the thing about lists. They’re subjective. They’re exclusive. They’re created by an assumed authority on the topic and usually you end up with one group elated (those included) and another group thinking wtf (the ones left out).”

  • laportama

    What did Patanjali say about lists and fame?
    Oh, right.

  • Dwayne

    What’s the big deal? As long as there’s a “yoga industry” (which is to say, for the foreseeable future; by all indications the industry is growing robustly), various entities within the industry will come up with such lists. As a practitioner, I’m under no obligation to pay attention to any of them, and they’re unlikely to affect my practice in any way. I do admit that I scanned the list out of curiosity, but I don’t expect to take any particular action as a result.

  • MK

    “David Regelin has one of the most beautiful advanced yoga practices in the world.”
    Can you hear my eyeroll from here?

    • Z

      His practice is beautiful. Do you disagree?

  • To make someone practice Yoga, you don’t have to give them Teachers, you have got to show them the results.

  • Debra Yantis

    Thank you HP for your insightful and much needed piece. At a time when celebrity appears to be the criteria for value and worth (NOT!), it is good to critique such a list in the world of yoga. Long ago we oldies remember free classes in the Parks (Golden Gate for me), Yogi Bhajan and Sachidananda, Steven Gaskin, et al; breathing exercises and stretching before concerts and lectures was the norm. Please forgive the nostalgia but my point being the EGO factor was pretty low, everyone participated and no fancy pants required. It pains me to see the commodification and labeling that rules the day. This list, seemingly benign, is a product of the current condition. I wish that those coming to yoga and really everyone, could back off the all the hoo ha to embrace the practice as it embraces the practitioner. Hey, it’s no big deal…relax, laugh, integrate the light. This costs nothing.

  • Stella Rose

    Thanks for writing. How did you measure their expertise?

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  • Brad

    This is modern yoga. Materialistic world based in capitalism and duality. What would you expect?

  • Please take the time to see upcoming film,# HolyHell , that will be broadcast nationally on CNN and released theatrically across the U.S. on May 20! My friend for over 20 years, Will Allen, was so courageous to put together the footage that exposes the truth of “Rey Ji” (or whatever he has changed his name to now, under the scrutiny of the film’s premiere). Will Allen was the unofficial documentarian of the group (cult) and personal aide to the “guru”, Rey Ji / Michel/ Andreas/ Jaime (his real name).
    Those who may be following a man in Lanikai who goes by name of “Rey Ji” will do themselves a favor by educating themselves about the truth of this cult and the misdeeds of its leader. There is an avalanche of press after the Sundance premiere of Holy Hell, with Jared Leto now executive producing the film, CNN broadcasting it, and New York-based distributor FilmRise with U.S. distribution rights.
    The film states, “Michel (now going under a new name in Hawaii) continues to operate a large cult of followers.” This man has changed his name every time he moves to a new location. . .Jaime (his real name)…Michel…Andreas…Rey Ji…and he may have changed his name recently. Please educate yourself and take a moment to see Holy Hell. Rey Ji’s misdeeds that come to light in the film focus around sexual manipulation of followers and a multitude of lies and deceptions – all for his own personal gain, not for the enlightenment of these duped spiritual seekers.
With so many false “gurus” abusing their power in the yoga world…this is a discussion that needs to happen and for truths to be exposed.
    http://realscreen.com/2016/03/17/cnn-films-picks-up-will-allens-holy-hell/

  • Maha Lakshmi

    As a yoga teacher – just keep doing your work: serve others. And who cares about being on the list. It is such a distraction. The endless ego game. No?

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