For a long time, just being involved in yoga made you a rebel. In ancient India, the Śramaṇa monks who developed the discipline were ascetics who gave up their possessions and left their homes to live in caves and forests.
In 1934, when B.K.S. Iyengar started studying yoga, “ridicule, rejection, and outright condemnation” were one’s expected lot, he famously wrote. In recent years, US teachers from Jivamukti co-founder Sharon Gannon to Tara Stiles, founder of Strala Yoga, have stirred up their own controversies by introducing unconventional approaches.
Today, yoga is in the mainstream, with a couple of widely accepted lineages of teaching passed down from the masters and 21 million Americans engaging in the practice. Yet some teachers still strike out in their own direction, challenging familiar rhetoric and provoking discussion about what yoga really is. “At every stage, yoga has had its mavericks,” says Jocelyn Gordon, founder of Bhakti Boogie Yoga. She and the four other teachers featured here are among them now, shaking things up with fresh ideas that break from the norm.
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