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Many world-class yoga teachers have made LA their home and it’s not hard to see the attraction
Like moths to a flame, they flock to the West Coast like aspiring actors often trailing crowds of dedicated followers. We were lucky enough to spend the first few months of 2016 living in Venice Beach and spent a lot of time checking out yoga studios and teachers that had come highly recommended to us. We also went a bit left-field and tried out some new teachers.
To be clear, 99% of our time was spent in Venice and Santa Monica so we’re sure there are many other incredibly talented teachers across LA (like Sean Corne, Shiva Rea, Ana Forrest, Rodney Yee, Duncan Wong, Mandy Ingber, Kathryn Budig to name a few) whom we didn’t have the pleasure of meeting yet. Many of them only teach privately or in workshops across the world (like yoga rock stars!) but the eight that made our list teach in LA studios that anyone can attend and whom we felt were a cut above the rest.
The yoga scene in LA is also quite different to most places (other than New York) in that it’s been a mainstream activity for longer and so much of the public have been practicing for years, meaning that classes cater to a more advanced crowd than elsewhere. Not that that should put you off if you’re a beginner, teachers are more than capable of taking good care of you.
Check out who we think are LA’s best and most accessible yoga teachers:
We believe Bryan is one of the best yoga teachers on the planet, not just because of his pedigree or the number of years he’s been teaching, or because of the huge following (around 200), that regularly come to his classes at Power Yoga in Santa Monica (which he runs) and by the way is entirely donation based. You give as little or as much as you can afford, making it accessible to everyone.
We think he’s one of the best because when you’re in his class, you feel like Bryan really gets inside your head. He believes that your practice is exactly that: yours. He only suggests you do something – a posture etc – leaving it entirely up to you to decide what feels right and how far you go, allowing you to determine how you show up on your mat, which we strongly believe is also how you show up in life. Will you push or yield? Is your body truly ready for that posture or do you know you’ve to work at it a little longer? He makes it all about you, excluding outside influence and noise. There’s a real power to that, which is probably where the name ‘PowerYoga’ comes from!
Bryan is big on meditation and runs the most awesome retreat in Tulum, if you’re interested. He also teaches a 3-hour class called LSD (Long, Slow & Deep) which involves holding postures for 10 minutes at a time. By the end of class, you’re high as a kite with a real feeling that something deeper has shifted. It’s the most intense class we’ve ever done.
We think this article on Bryan is pretty accurate, have a read.
Kia grew up in the Falkland Islands, riding horses over vast acres of wilderness. Moving to England at 15, she soon discovered yoga and has been studying with world-renowned teachers in India, Europe and the US ever since. A successful model and filmmaker, Kia has travelled all over the world experiencing many different cultures and ways of life. Yoga is her way to stay centred and nourished and she’s certified in the Ashtanga/Vinyasa Flow tradition, as well as Kundalini Yoga (taught by Yogi Bhajan). Kia teaches at Yogaworks in Santa Monica as well as on retreats, conferences and workshops globally.
We regularly attended Kia’s early morning classes in Santa Monica, which were beautifully sequenced. She also incorporated gongs and music to create certain moods which worked brilliantly. Her classes are strong and dynamic and not for the nervous. Her warm energy easily enables you to connect with yourself and her as a teacher. We loved her classes and believe everyone should do a Kia class before they leave LA.
Vinnie has something of a cult like following in LA and it’s not hard to see why. We used to attend his infamous Tuesday 9:15am class at Yogaworks on Main St, Santa Monica which had people queuing to get into his class (no reservations, thank goodness) by 8am! You have to get there early to grab your spot and once inside you are cheek to cheek with your fellow classmates. Music is very much part of the Vinnie experience (everything from The Doors to Bowie); This is the entertainment capital of the world after all! You know it’s going to be a very special class when the front row is a line-up of amazing teachers from YogaWorks.
Vinnie grew up in New York, starting yoga as a teenager and drawn to the spiritual literature of the 60s – Alan Watts, Ram Dass etc – but falling into the drugs scene of the early ‘70s which rapidly replaced yoga as his means of ‘escape’. The drugs and the music of that era—Jefferson Airplane, The Doors – at the time made him feel that anything was possible.
Realising that experimenting with chemicals to find different levels of consciousness ultimately left him trapped, he got clean and sober in his twenties and never looked back. Moving to LA in the ‘90s, Vinnie found his way back to yoga but it had changed beyond recognition. No longer the gentle, hippy hobby of the ‘70s, yoga was now a hot, sweaty, hard and intense workout and he loved it. We think Vinnie’s backstory is super interesting and feel it influences his ability to get under the skin of yoga and share those insights with you.
During his teacher-training Vinnie incorporated Iyengar yoga into his flow practice, which can be evidenced by his attention to alignment in the postures. When he first started teaching he wasn’t encouraged to use music, but Vinnie felt that music and its message seemed to be a perfect complement for a flow class. How can you not love doing sun salutations to the Rolling Stones? And that’s when music became as much a part of his classes as the yoga. He carefully selects his playlists based on various factors and it works really well – we’ve never experienced music in a yoga class that was as well thought-out and executed as in Vinnie’s. Check out his Tuesday morning class. Yoga with good music first thing, does it get much better than that?
Mia was recommended to us when we first arrived in LA and hers was the first class we attended – it was impressive and an effective cure for our jetlag. Mia began teaching in 2004 and she places emphasis on detailed alignment so there is an intelligence and a purpose to her sequencing. Once the pose has been established, she encourages you to go beyond it (even in advanced arm balancing poses) which really focuses your determination.
She strongly believes that the asanas (postures) allow you to observe the energy you’re carrying, that they reveal where healing is needed and where transformation can take place. Mia also believes we all have a purpose, a soul journey. We found her classes to be incredibly invigorating and we always left feeling grounded and ready for anything. Mia has a beautiful energy about her and is incredibly attentive.
We took Noah’s classes at Wanderlust in Hollywood where he’s in charge of their yoga programmes. Mazé’s fierce and compassionate dedication to yoga inspires students to journey deeper into their bodies, hearts, minds and spirits. His class is for the advanced practitioner as he teaches you how to advance some of the more challenging postures in intelligent ways.
Noah is recognized around the world as an accomplished teacher of yoga teachers and among the most advanced of yoga practitioners. Noah is also the founder of YOGAMAZÉ whose HQ is in LA. Raised in the philosophy and practice of yoga, Noah grew up in Boulder, Colorado, where his parents practiced a tradition of meditation. He began a regular practice of hatha yoga when he was just 14. Initially, Noah studied and practiced Ashtanga Vinyasa with Richard Freeman, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, and Senior Iyengar Yoga Teacher, Manouso Manos. Noah completed his first Anusara Yoga teacher training in 1999 and was certified in the then-growing style of Anusara Yoga in 2002. Today Noah studies extensively with Tantric scholar Douglas R. Brooks.
Travis teaches his signature ‘Holistic Yoga Flow‘ classes at Santa Monica Power Yoga, The Yoga Collective and Equinox Fitness in Los Angeles and also teaches workshops nationally and internationally. We got so much out of his classes at The Yoga Collective in Venice because his style was so dynamic, transforming and full of heart. Influenced by his global travels, ayurvedic studies and profound passion for music, his classes are physically demanding yet perfectly meditative. We won’t lie, he has the most soothing voice and his accent completely lulls you.
Born in Texas and raised in North Carolina, Travis started meditating at the age of 9. He worked in the entertainment business for a while before discovering yoga and then, after a near-death experience in Hawaii, things really started to shift for him and he began to get involved in all things yoga. Travis started teaching yoga in Thailand until the Tsunami of 2005 brought him back to LA.
Since then, he’s set up in Santa Monica and now teaches all over the world. He also loves to sing kirtan (a devotional song, typically about the life of Krishna, in which a group repeats lines sung by a leader) and has just released his first CD, The Meaning of Soul. His favourite pose is twisted triangle and believe it or not he’s not a fan of headstands!
Lauren is a truly accomplished and gifted yoga teacher. We managed to do a few of her classes at Equinox in Santa Monica as well as The Yoga Collective in Venice. A Yoga Alliance-certified E-RYT 500 instructor and meditation teacher, Lauren guides some of the world’s most well- known musicians, fashion icons, filmmakers, executives and Fortune 500 companies in both yoga and meditation. She regularly partners with licensed therapists, community leaders and studios to help facilitate workshops and conversations that advocate yoga as a healing practice for all abilities, body types, and backgrounds.
With a degree in film and television from UCLA and a 20-year career as an actor, Lauren brings presence, confidence, joy and passion her classes. With a background and training in Vinyasa-based Power Yoga, her classes combine creative sequencing and flows with a strong focus on safe, sound alignment. Lauren also caters toward students rehabbing from injuries so her breadth of teaching includes advanced yogis, brand new practitioners and yogis dealing with a therapeutic approach to the practice. She specializes in Restorative Yoga, Gentle Yoga, Yin Yoga, Yoga for Beginners, Pranayama and Meditation and has experience teaching Kid’s Yoga and Prenatal/Postnatal Yoga.
Her students adore her: it’s evident when you go to her classes. She creates compassionate space where it’s safe to just ‘be’.
We experienced Guru Jagat at her yoga school in Venice. The thing that struck us most about her was how aligned she was with Voyage & Soap thinking on bringing the wonder of wellness to the masses. She’s passionate about the teaching of Kundalini Yoga, which increases vitality and peace of mind. She’s committed to spreading the effectiveness of this practice while not diluting it in any way.
Regarded as the modern face of Kundalini Yoga, Guru Jagat brings a fresh perspective to this ancient practice. A senior teacher with over a dozen years of experience, Guru Jagat studied under Yogi Bhajan, the Kundalini Master responsible for bringing the practice to the US. Her profound classes teach Kundalini as a technology that can be used as a tool to achieve and sustain long-lasting happiness. These classes have earned her a devout LA following. She’s also the founder of the RA MA Institute for Applied Yogic Science and Technology, a premier yoga school with locations in Venice CA, Boulder CO and La Jolla CA offering classes, workshops and group cleanses.
She’s also launched RA MA TV, a new virtual media platform that makes Kundalini Yoga and yogic lifestyle accessible to people all over the world, as well as the indie yoga music label RA MA Records whose mission is to trailblaze a new genre of music for mass consumption – in and out of the yoga space, on the dance floor, radio and beyond. Much like Voyage & Soap, she’s on a mission to take sacred sounds and put them into the structure of modern music and, like us, sees yoga as much a science as an art.
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