Yoga pertains to an entire group of spiritual and physical practices that date back as far as 3300 BC in India, an era in which anthropologists have uncovered statues depicting figures in yoga-like postures. As you can imagine, yoga’s influence on the Western world in general and here in the United States in particular, has taken place in a veritable blink-of-an-eye when you look at the whole history of yoga.
Nevertheless, there are a number of people from the past and present who have had a profound influence on the spread of yoga in the West, and probably few of greater significance than the five people listed below…
#1 Rodney Yee
Rodney’s Yoga: http://www.gaiam.com/category/yoga-studio/yoga-instructors/rodney-yee.do
Rodney Yee was once a gymnast, a ballet dancer, and a philosophy major. What do all of these things have in common? The helped him satisfy a deep hunger for knowledge and understanding of the human mind and body. This curiosity is what led him to begin learning, and eventually teaching, his own form of yoga. Rodney has appeared on several national morning shows, and daytime television talk shows like Oprah. He owns a major yoga studio in LA, and is probably THE most well known yoga personality in America, next to Bikram.
#2 Bikram Choudhury
Bikram’s Yoga: http://www.bikramyoga.com
Although he was born in India, Bikram began teaching his “hot yoga” classes in the California during the 1970s. This form of yoga, in which students perform mostly Hatha yoga poses in a heated room, may be the most popular type of yoga in the United States today.
#3 Shiva Rea
Shiva Rea’s Yoga: http://www.shivarea.com/about
Her name sounds Indian, but Shiva is actually an American-born yoga instructor, daughter of an artist/surfer. Shiva has released several award-winning yoga videos, and has traveled the world to appear at yoga retreats and international studios. Now a regular contributor for the Yoga Journal, Shiva has built a name for herself as one of the best yoga teachers in the Western world. She is widely known for her cultivation of Vinyasa yoga techniques into her own style called Prana Flow.
#4 Patricia Walden
Patricia’s Yoga: http://www.gaiam.com/category/yoga-studio/yoga-instructors/patricia-walden.do
While many Western yoga teachers are drawn to the temptation of creating their own, unique style of yoga, branding it and watching it flourish, Patricia has remained dedicated to her Iyengar yoga roots for over 25 years. She has co-authored The Women’s Book of Yoga and Health and starred in several award-winning yoga DVDs, including the best-selling Yoga for Beginners series.
#5 Seane Corn
Seane’s Yoga: http://www.gaiam.com/category/yoga-studio/yoga-instructors/seane-corn.do
The extremely beautiful, talented and charismatic Seane Corn teaches Vinyasa yoga, and is the star of the hugely popular Vinyasa Flow Yoga DVD series. She has been featured on the cover of the Yoga Journal three times, and has also appeared on the covers of Natural Health, Fit yoga, Yoga Life and Healing Retreat and Spa Magazine. Many are drawn to Seane Corn’s charisma and authentic messages of change and progress. She has worked with several political and social programs to bring changes to local and global communities, including a shelter that houses and educates adolescent prostitutes, and YouthAIDS. Born in New Jersey, Seane had her first yoga experience at the Life Cafe in the East Village area of New York.
Have we left out your favorite yoga teacher? Opinions differ widely as to who has had the most influence over modern yoga. But there is no denying that the five yoga instructors above, whether you agree with their teachings or not, are have had a major impact on the way yoga is practiced and taught here in the U.S. and around the western world.