There is no shortage of yoga teachers in the world. In fact, according to some estimates, there are more than 70,000 in North America alone! However, finding a truly remarkable teacher that encourages you to push through your fears and dig deeper is still not an easy task—and once you do find someone like that, it’s important that you do everything you can to keep them in your life.
If you’re looking for an instructor who can genuinely inspire your own practice, consider the following five. They’re by no means the only great teachers in the world, but they are definitely a group of people who have made the yoga world a better place in their own unique ways.
Since her yoga career began in the 90s, Seane Corn has made a name for herself as one of the most sought-after instructors around. In addition to teaching internationally, Seane has produced multiple instructional videos and was even a contributor for Oprah.com.
However, what really sets this accomplished yogini apart is her passion for activism, especially as it relates to HIV/AIDS. After becoming an ardent supporter of YouthAIDS, an organization dedicated to stopping the spread of sexually transmitted infections, Corn developed her own campaign, “Off the Matt, Into the World.” Through her work with “Off the Mat” she has been able to raise millions of dollars for grassroots programs across the world. This money has been used for numerous purposes, including HIV/AIDS prevention, natural disaster relief, and drug abuse treatment.
While some instructors are only concerned with using their popularity to boost their personal brands, Seane Corn has put her fame to good use and has managed to help countless citizens of the world in the process.
Happy Love Day Everyone! Love is the greatest healer, elixir, immune boosting, pranfying experience we can generate for each other and within ourself. I love everyone posts and love prAna! I am expressing old school flowing "Radhakrishnasana" from 2007 prana vinyasa shoot in some vintage prAna that I still love and can wear today. Move the way love moves today. #bringingyogaback
For many people, yoga is about bringing their lives back into union with the natural world, and as an instructor, Shiva Rea has been able to help her students accomplish this on a global level.
In collaboration with the Global Vinyasa Collection of Teachers, Rea has helped to develop Prana Vinyasa Flow yoga, which was designed to help “students […] experience prana—the universal source of breath, life-energy, and conscious intelligence.”
However, this desire to connect with life is not just relegated to her yoga practice. It also informs her “sacred activism”—a form of social action that blends elements of spirituality with an awareness of global issues. Some of her most successful endeavors include YEA!, a campaign encouraging yogis to seek out renewable forms of energy, and the Global Mala Project, which aims to promote world peace through meditation, yoga, and prayer.
When it comes yoga instructors, “punk rock rebel” is not the first descriptor that typically comes to mind. However, Brooklyn-based Sadie Nardini is pushing limits and challenging stereotypes with her rocker-inspired brand of yoga.
While this fresh attitude alone is enough to include her in this list, what’s truly inspiring about Nardini is the adversity she’s overcome to reach where she is today. As a teenager she was diagnosed with spinal meningitis—a condition that gave her difficulty with even simple movements. Doctors were certain that physical activity would be out of the question for her, but Sadie made the decision that she wanted more out of life.
After years of hard work, with progress moving no faster than a snail’s pace, she not only mastered yoga herself, but also became certified as a teacher. These days, Nardini has online instructional videos across multiple platforms and has managed to amass quite the social media following. She’s been featured in media outlets including Elle, The Huffington Post, and The New York Times.
Yoga is a practice that should be open to all people. Unfortunately, underserved populations are still sometimes overlooked, but Kyla Ring hopes to change that. Along with several other instructors, Ring is a part of Queer & Trans* Yoga Sydney—a self-described “pop-up project” aiming to bring yoga to the LGBT community in Australia.
Kyla specializes in Kundalini yoga, a practice that emphasizes spiritual energy and body awareness. However, like the other instructors on this list, Ring is much more than just a teacher—she’s also a visual artist, fashion designer, and greeting card maker!
If you’re in the area and are looking for a safe, accepting place to practice, pay a visit to Ring and her fellow instructors at Queer & Trans* Yoga Sydney.
I used to get on my mat, take the pose, set my drishti, breathe deeply & then...wait. I'd wait to receive love from the pose. It was as if I'd say to myself "I did my part, now love me back." After a lot of waiting, I considered the possibility that it was where I was coming from that made the real difference. I finally realized I don’t have to wait for love or go looking for love when it is where I come from. BB @baptisteyoga #baptisteyoga #whybaptisteyoga
There have been numerous instructors that have developed their own brand of yoga, but none have been quite as popular as Baron Baptiste and his Baptiste Yoga. While this practice was originally developed by his father, Walt, Baron followed in his footsteps and has managed to build a veritable yoga empire—training thousands of practitioners, including professional athletes and CEOs.
Along with Paige Elenson, Baptiste also founded the Africa Yoga Project—an organization designed to offer yoga teacher certification to the unemployed in Kenya. After their training is complete, the Africa Yoga Project hires these new teachers and allows them to bring the art of yoga back into their own communities.
While it can be difficult to find the opportunity to study with Baron himself, teachers worldwide have been trained in Baptiste yoga and offer classes that help to sustain the legacy he has developed.