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If there ever would be a yoga festival with these 5 teachers giving classes or workshops, I would book a ticket immediately, no matter where on earth it may be. These international yoga teachers are each inspiring, unique, energising, down-to-earth yet spiritual, and just overall rad human beings.
There are so many awesome yoga teachers, it’s hard to pick just 5. These are teachers that I’ve experienced myself (4 of them live at least) and they are my personal favourites. Tracy Gray has been my teacher during my Yoga Teacher Training, I’ve taken several classes from Les Leventhal (who might be coming to The Netherlands next year!) and Denise Payne in Bali, and I’ve taken a workshop from Shiva Rea in Amsterdam.
The only one who I still need to ‘experience’ live (sounds a bit like I’m talking about products instead of people), is Esther Ekhart. She has an amazing YouTube channel though, and online yoga website, so it’s very easy to take her classes at home.
So, who are they and what do I like about them:
Tracy Gray (Australia)
Tracy has been my anatomy teacher during my YTT. She has a wealth of knowledge on the human body and yoga therapy. Focused on alignment and safety, she really makes you feel what you are doing with your body during a class.
There are so many ways to approach yoga, but she has this nice down-to-earth style that resonates so well with me. She still talks about spirituality, but in a very natural kind of way. She has a background in IT and the fitness industry and has been studying yoga therapy and physiology for more than 10 years. And she surfs (’nuff said).
After doing the YTT with her, I visited her in Brisbane, Australia where she teaches. She is also a trainer for Santosha’s Yoga Teacher Training programme in Bali, and runs a Yoga Retreat on Bali from 16-22 July 2016.
Les Leventhal (USA)
The first class with Les, it took me 10 minutes to fall completely in love with him. He gets the whole class laughing in Down Dog, while still making a serious point. He just has this extravagant personality and energising vibe about him, it’s intoxicating. At the same time, he says exactly the right stuff to keep you grounded and to help you with your self-study and awareness.
He has a very interesting life journey, worth publishing a book about it; ‘Two Lifestyles, One Lifetime’ (very good read). I took several of his Vinyasa Flow/Power Yoga classes at the Yoga Barn in Ubud, Bali this year and I hope to see him next year in my own home town The Hague (he’s coming to Europe in 2017)!
He teaches mostly in Bali at the Yoga Barn, but he’s doing Yoga Teacher Trainings around the world. You can find many online yoga videos on his website or on YouTube.
Denise Payne (USA)
Denise is a power house. She has this raw, yet feminine energy that I find a little intimidating and totally addictive at the same time. She is capable of doing poses that are mind-blowing, and making them look easy.
It’s not only her physical strength that I find inspiring; it’s her wealth of knowledge on yoga, her cues that make a world of difference in your practice. She challenges you to do things you didn’t think were possible, until you do them.
Those teachings are also applied off the mat. She says: “find and face the challenges on the mat, so that we may live our lives effortlessly”. Besides Vinyasa/Power Yoga, she also teaches Yin Yoga (slow-paced style of yoga, but equally powerful).
Find her classes at the Yoga Barn in Ubud, Bali. Or check out her world-wide Yoga Teacher Trainings.
Esther Ekhart (The Netherlands)
I started taking online yoga classes with Esther 2 years ago, and I still take them regularly. She has a gentle friendly voice, soothing, calm and clear. Although she is Dutch, she teaches in English. Her cues are very helpful in getting the right alignment and safe transitioning.
She teaches different kinds of yoga, for all kinds of purposes. Although she also teaches in Amsterdam, I’ve yet to go to one of her classes, but I will definitely do that asap.
Her YouTube channel and website are awesome, check it out for yourself.
Shiva Rea (USA)
I realise that this is the third American teacher in my list. And I actually have more (I started with yoga through the videos of Californian surfer Peggy Hall, so that might explain it). Anyhow, Shiva Rea is a world famous Prana Vinyasa teacher. She uses a combination of dance, music and yoga.
Last year I participated in a day workshop with her in Amsterdam. We were doing the yoga asanas (poses), when suddenly the class turned into a kind of dance session. I wasn’t expecting that. Yet, I found her combination of dance, energy, music and Vinyasa Flow very inspirational. I love her friendly and warm vibe, her femininity and her teachings. And she surfs as well!
She can be found all over the world, from Costa Rica to Greece. Check her calendar here.
Who inspires you in your yoga practice?