Life

The Future of Yoga: 41 Teachers, Only 1 Way to Go

With our community more than doubling in the last decade, yoga is quickly evolving. (Goat yoga gone mainstream? Couldn’t have called it.) This National Yoga Month, we asked respected teachers across the yoga spectrum: what’s happening now and what’s next? Despite wildly different styles, many shared unified perspectives—and predictions.

Larissa Hall Carlson, yoga teacher and former Dean of the Kripalu School of Ayurveda

Larissa Hall Carlson

“It’s time. Our world is changing and the yoga community is starting to shift its attention. Threats of war, natural disasters, and extended political unrest have left communities struggling, families in fear, and individuals in a stressful state of high alert. The vast field of yoga is changing. For long-term yoga teachers and practitioners, sankalpa (intention; heart-felt desire) is naturally moving away from individually focused goals of self-discovery, mastering advanced poses, and transformational yogic pilgrimages, and turning toward community-oriented support.

The need is real and this new yogic movement is incredibly inspiring. Able, dedicated yogis are taking action: maintaining enough yoga practice for daily self-care, stress reduction, mental clarity, and overall health, then getting off the mat and serving society directly. It’s a shift from the precious practice of silently bowing and dedicating the fruits of yoga to someone at the end of class, to the pragmatic practice of actually doing something helpful for the community.” —Larissa Hall Carlson 


READ MORE
Larissa Hall Carlson Says the Future of Yoga Is in Shifting the Sankalpa from Self to Community

Practice with her in Yoga Journal’s Ayurveda 101 online course.

Beryl Bender Birch, founder and director of The Hard & The Soft Yoga Institute and the Give Back Yoga Foundation

Beryl Bender Birch

“We are in crisis. Yoga is here now because we desperately need it in our lives. It isn’t a mistake that yoga is here now or accidental that more and more teachers are teaching yoga and more and more people are practicing. Yoga is popping up everywhere, and will continue to do so. In schools, hospitals, corporations, churches, the military, in prisons—everywhere. We are moving toward a quantum leap in human consciousness and although yoga isn’t the only way to become more conscious, it’s a pretty good way. As more people are helped and healed and awakened by the practices, they will bring others onto the path simply because that is what happens—we feel better and we want to share with others the benefits we have received.” —Beryl Bender Birch


READ MORE
 The Future of Yoga? Beryl Bender Birch Says ‘Bring It On’

Chelsea Jackson Roberts, PhD, founder and director of Yoga, Literature, and Art Camp for Teen Girls at Spelman College Museum of Fine Art

Chelsea Jackson Roberts

“Yoga needs to move in a direction that is more equitable and whole. By definition and through my personal practice, yoga teaches me that separation is maya, or an illusion. As a teacher, I would like to see more emphasis placed on the practice as it relates to our relationships with the world and one another. I hope over the next 10 years and beyond, that yoga becomes more accessible and accessed more as a tool for understanding and a lens to recognize, interrogate, and resist inequality.

Our asana practice has the potential to transform and influence consciousness in ways that our nation and world so desperately need. Because yoga allows us to be more awake, aware, and engaged, this sustainable practice is essential to those who recognize how devastating inequality can be. Even more impactful, yoga practice can be used as a tool to illuminate answers to questions like, ‘Why doesn’t everyone have access to yoga in addition to basic human needs?’

Our yoga practice shouldn’t take us away from the many realities of the world; it should draw us nearer to each other and support us in finding ways to rebuild and heal wounds that keep us fragmented as a society. If yoga can lead us to a deeper understanding of our mind, body, and heart, it can certainly reveal lessons on how to be advocates for justice, peace, and equality in mindful and holistic ways.” —Chelsea Jackson Roberts

Learn more from Chelsea Jackson Roberts in YJ’s course Inclusivity Training for Yoga: Building Community with Compassion

Sianna Sherman, founder of Mythic Yoga Flow

Sianna Sherman GODDESS YOGA: Lakshmi PADMA MUDRA

“My wish for the future of yoga is a deepening commitment to the practices that truly serve to integrate us, including: traditional yoga practices along with shadow work, conscious communication, emotional intimacy, leadership skills, and earth ceremony.

It is time to become more aware of spiritual bypassing and acknowledge our vulnerability and even the pitfalls of our practices. For me, the ‘advanced yogi’ is the one who can keep their heart open in the midst of conflict, turn towards their pain with genuine compassion, step into collaboration versus competition, and cultivate real intimacy with self and others.

Sometimes, the surface glamour of the practice can elude us from our deeper work and we unconsciously use the practice to escape our pain. By turning towards our personal shadow, we can attend to the collective shadow in a more conscious way without so much blame, shame and guilt. We release the name-calling and take greater responsibility for true transformation individually and collectively.” —Sianna Sherman


Read more
 Sianna Sherman’s Hope for Humanity Rests with Our ‘Collective Heart Tribe’

Practice with her in Yoga Journal’s Goddess Yoga online course

Sara Clark, teacher on YogaGlo and faculty member of the Kripalu School of Yoga

Sara Clark

“The change I’d like to see in the next decade is for everyone no matter their color, age, shape, size, or socioeconomic status to have access to this potent practice we call yoga. I would love to witness more people from the youth to the elderly saying ‘yes, I have tried yoga and it is positively changing my life.’ As a community, we need to hold each other accountable in sharing with others that yoga is a universal practice intended for all to enjoy and benefit from and that expensive stretchy pants are not necessary to reap the benefits.

I teach vinyasa yoga and meditation and often bridge the two so it’s not just a physical practice; it’s a spiritual experience. I foresee in the next decade more people becoming aware that this practice, which helps us to place both our thoughts and our bodies in a deliberate way is not about showing off fancy poses, but rather about better understanding and thus overcoming our suffering so we can heal and evolve. Imagine a world where everyone has the yogic tools to breathe deeply, to sit quietly, and to move and speak with mindfulness and compassion. The planet as we know it would transform into a Utopia! As the African Proverb states, ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to far, go together.’” —Sara Clark


See also
 Sara Clark’s 7-Step Guide to Experiencing Wild Thing

Dana Flynn, founder of Laughing Lotus, New York City

Dana Trixie Flynn performs the Cross Your Heart mudra.

“The future of yoga is all about giving and giving back. It’s time to become a spiritual volunteer, a true lover! This timeless practice of yoga is called karma yoga or seva, selfless service, it’s all about love in ACTION. This is the form of prayer where yoga needs to go, a dynamic loving generous prayer that connects us all by giving and being of divine service. Yogis are change agents, we are here to inspire health and wellness, promote social justice, and change hearts. Of course to change you, I must first change me.

Seva brings us in touch with both our humanity and our divinity. Selfless service helps to remove the insane barriers inside us and between us that make us think we are separate. Seva lifts this veil, it dissolves this painful sense of separateness. This is our true and ultimate union, or yoga. Yoga is a spiritual program of action.

It’s through each other that we meet ourselves and awaken one another’s hearts. It’s time to walk each other hOMe.” —Dana Flynn


See also 
Powered By Love: 3 Mudras To Open Your Heart

Tyrone Beverly, founder of Im’Unique

Tyrone Beverly, singing bowl

“I’ve arrived at a place in my life where I would say that it is not yoga that needs to change or transform, but it is the understating of yoga that needs to evolve for the people that practice and represent it. Fundamentally the fabric of yoga and all its threads is the blueprint to being human. If we want to preserve life and not explicitly facilitate our own demise, yogis will be required to get involved and participate in the social structures that govern our lives.

The nucleus of yoga is not divided by styles, nor is it divided by skin color or class, but all too often those barriers are prevalent in today’s approach. So it is my hope that the future approach to yoga will inspire us to create a sound mind, a sound body, a harmonious relationship with nature, and a harmonious relationship with our fellow human beings. You don’t have to be a yogi to practice yoga, you can simply live a life that embodies all that it is.” —Tyrone Beverly


See also
 How Tyrone Beverly Uses Yoga to Start Important Conversations

Bo Forbes, PsyD, yoga teacher & clinical psychologist

bo forbes pigeon

“It’s vitally important that we begin to see yoga as more than a tradition, a practice, a career, or even an industry, but as a sociological entity. Yoga is embedded in the connective tissue of our social structure; it is shaping our relationships, our behavior, and our economy. It’s to our great benefit, then, to invite and participate in multi-disciplinary collaborations with other professions such as science, contemplative practice, sociology, anthropology, physical therapy, and more. How can we be not just unwitting participants in this evolutionary pattern, but what Margaret Mead called ‘participant observers,” to bring conscious intention and attention to the factors shaping the future of yoga?'” —Bo Forbes


READ MORE 
Bo Forbes Thinks It’s Time to Start Asking Questions About This “Sociological Entity” We Call Yoga

Shiva Rea, creator of Prana Vinyasa

Shiva Rea

“We are alive during the end of fossil fuels, the widespread expansion of renewable energy, and the intensity of climate change. My vision, prayer, and hope for yoga is that from our body, home, community, world that we have started to turn the tide towards a more sustainable, loving, vital, future for all beings.

It is the shifts in consciousness that yoga is affecting all around the world. Yoga helps us see the opportunity and life potential that we are given in every moment. We can transform every challenge. What can you do to be the change you want to see in the world? How can we do that collectively?

My prayer is that we go deeper in our roots but grow wider in our branches towards the universal application of yoga and vinyasa as the sequencing of change. We have the power to transform selfishness, division, and disconnected actions. Yoga in all its forms always moves us towards greater unity, connection, and awakening. Tell your children what is already happening: when they grow up, their life will be powered by the sun. How amazing!” —Shiva Rea

Practice with her in Yoga Journal’s Master Class program

Sri Dharma Mittra, founder of Dharma Yoga Center, New York City

Alternate-Nostril Breathing, sri dharma mittra

“We should concentrate more and more on developing and expressing the qualities of the heart and the mind. My dream is to see yoga going more and more into the ethical and mental part of the practice, like keeping more to the yamas (the ethical rules and first step of classical yoga), constantly striving to acquire self-knowledge (svadhyaya)—and not spending too much time on asana (the physical postures). Just practice the most important ones regularly, as well as the main breathing exercise, Anuloma Viloma (alternate-nostril breathing). People should improve their diet and concentrate on the purity of the food they eat, really put the yamas and niyamas into practice. I think only by knowledge—through realizing the laws of karma and coming to understand that everything is perfect—can we ever truly achieve the calming of the mind that is yoga. When you understand that, you’ll be able deep inside not to suffer.” —Sri Dharma Mittra

Practice with him in Yoga Journal’s Master Class program

Octavia Raheem, co-owner Sacred Chill {West} studio in Atlanta and founder of Starshine and Clay Yoga Retreats

Octavia Raheem

“We are being called to practice advanced yoga on and off of our mat right now and forward. It can be profoundly uncomfortable and will likely put some at odds with old narratives and environments that have gone unquestioned and unchallenged too long.

We will ask the questions: Who is missing from my class or studio? Who is missing from my experience? Who holds the seat of the teacher? Who is not on this conference roster? Who is missing from this festival? Who is missing from this publication? Whose voice is not present in this conversation? Why? What within me hasn’t ‘missed’ the other until now? What am I afraid to notice?

Teachers will study and learn to leverage the power of restorative yoga and meditation as tools of deep inquiry; supporting us in approaching the hard questions that we must examine with more compassion and skill.

There will be research and deeper exploration on how meditative and restorative practices can support people from marginalized groups in addressing aspects of trauma and injuries sustained from daily micro- and macro-aggressions.

This path expands to welcome those who are prepared to walk against the grain that confuses bypassing with progress and posing with true alignment.

This is where we must go.” —Octavia Raheem


See also 
Why Every Yoga Teacher & Practitioner Needs Inclusivity Training

Gail Parker, PhD, C-IAYT, E-RYT 500, psychologist, and faculty member in the Beaumont School of Yoga Therapy in William Beaumont Hospital’s department of Integrative Medicine

Gail Parker, PhD

“Ethno-Race-Based Traumatic Stress Injury (ERBTSI) is real and unique. Racial and ethnic minorities are exposed to constant micro-aggressions and can face multiple threats to physical and emotional safety throughout their lives. With little opportunity to recover before the next experience, ethno-race-based traumatic stress is a powerful risk factor for the development of ongoing psychological distress. Unlike Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a psychiatric diagnosis, trauma from racial wounding is not a form of psychopathology, but is regarded as a defensive response to an emotional, or psychic, injury.

There are currently few adequate structures in place to help members of minority communities process their experiences of ethno-race-based stress and trauma. I believe that yoga has much to offer in this regard. I am currently teaching aspiring yoga therapists and yoga teachers self-care practices designed to help people self-regulate and step away from repeated experiences of ethno-race-based wounding, while building the necessary resilience to develop effective coping strategies. As part of the curriculum, restorative yoga and meditation for ERBTSI are adapted to be culturally relevant to the population being served and also to dive deep into one’s own racial identity. I see this as a necessary addition to the ongoing relevance of yoga as an inclusive and diverse offering.” —Gail Parker, PhD


See also
What All Yoga Teachers Need to Know About Teaching Trauma Survivors

Natasha Rizopoulos, founder of Align Your Flow Yoga

Natasha Rizopoulos

“As I think about the future of yoga my heartfelt wish is that the time people spend on their mats becomes less like the time they spend off their mats. In other words, it sometimes seems as if practitioners are bringing their daily habits (devices, distractions, a fast-and-furious approach) into the yoga room. Our mats should be a respite from the hectic patterns that seem to govern so much of life, not yet another iteration of those patterns.

Patanjali defines practice as ‘effort towards steadiness of mind.’ At its best asana is a vehicle for cultivating this quality, but it’s not a guarantee. Just because one is on a yoga mat does not mean one is actually practicing yoga. In an increasingly frantic world, my hope for the future is that as a community we nurture ways of practicing that remind us of our calmer selves.” —Natasha Rizopoulos

Study with her in Yoga Journal’s Sequencing 101 online course

Sarah Platt-Finger, co-founder of ISHTA Yoga and private yoga teacher of Deepak Chopra

Sarah Platt-Finger performs Padadhirasana.

“I think that yoga is evolving in modern culture in the way modern culture needs it to. Even though yoga is essentially an internal experience, it could not reach the world in the same way it has without its external component. Now that the mainstream is well acquainted with the practice, I would love to see an emphasis on the inner experience: what we are authentically feeling inside. We can easily get distracted by what the pose looks like, how attractive our clothes are, and how appealing it all looks on a breathtaking backdrop. This has its own value, but is still a distraction from the present moment. In my opinion, our feelings are the pathway to experiencing yoga, not the obstacle. Let’s get more comfortable with closing our eyes and connecting to sensations in our body—whatever they may be—rather than trying to perfect our Downward-Facing Dog. Let’s listen rather than dictate. That is how we cultivate awareness, which changes everything. And the more we create the space for feeling the more we will create the space for healing.” —Sarah Platt-Finger

Practice with her in Yoga Journal’s online course Finding Connection Through Yoga with Deepak Chopra

Gary Kraftsow, founder and director of the American Viniyoga Institute’s Yoga Teacher and Yoga Therapist Training Programs

gary kraftsow

“The way I was taught, yoga is more about managing and transforming our thoughts, emotions, and behavior than about stretching our hamstrings. And the real work of yoga is about mastering our minds, not mastering handstand. We are multidimensional beings, not just our anatomy. The progressively widespread reductionism of yoga to its more superficial aspects is not a positive thing. It misses the depth and breadth of what yoga has to offer our modern world.

Meditation, pranayama, chanting, and tantric methods help us cultivate a conscious relationship with our thoughts, feelings, and behavior. This is the foundation for transforming our cognitive distortions, troubling emotions, and dysfunctional patterns of behavior. We are at a crisis level in our society, and it’s not ‘handstand’ that’s gonna help us! We need to collectively wake up from group think—and the narrative we are telling ourselves about ourselves and the world, which plugs us into our emotional reactivity, which leads to aberrant behavior. That is the deeper work of yoga, and that is what can make a positive change in society.” —Gary Kraftsow


See also
 A Healing Yoga Sequence to Ease Neck + Shoulder Pain

Tias Little, founder of Prajna Yoga, Santa Fe

tias-little-yj-live-childs-pose-adjustment

“I think that yoga must become an antidote for online communication. So much of our communication today is disembodied as we cannot sense, feel, smell, or really see the recipient of our messaging. I see yoga as playing an important role in fostering somatic awareness. Not only does it help us feel the wind of the breath in our lungs, the pulse of nerves through our connective tissue, but it prepares us to better sense and feel another person. I hope that over time the yoga experience will become more relational. That is students will have the opportunity to express what is happening in their mind and body. I teach dyad work where students track their internal experiences in order to share them with a partner.

I hope that yoga will return to its more contemplative roots. While the physical discipline of yoga is rewarding, the direct experience of silence, stillness and sitting in open awareness is beyond compare. I attempt to teach the later limbs of Patanjali’s yoga of meditation and absorption. In order to heal from the stress and traumas rampant our planet today, the experience of soaking inward in moments of samadhi is invaluable. This requires slowing down and taking the plunge into the depths of our own interior. This can be frightening to some, but there is no other way to really transform on the path. So I hope yoga will move away from the mirrors and the outer display of posturing toward the very heart of being. This requires a capacity to be not only with feelings of expansion and joy, but feelings of loss, loneliness, and pain.” —Tias Little 


See also
 Ease Low Back Pain: 3 Subtle Ways To Stabilize the Sacrum from Tias Little

Lauren Imparato, founder and author of Retox

Lauren Imparato

“Despite what social media and trainings tend to promote these days, yoga was never meant to reduce stress, help you become more flexible, or enhance your acrobatic ability. Yoga was created to help train the muscle of your mind, the mind that shapes your perceptions and from there creates your reality. The combination of proper breath, poses, and breath linked to the movement and poses is what makes yoga powerful; as I say and write in RETOX, it is what changes you from the inside out and the outside in. I hope that in the next decade we come back to the true essence of yoga. We don’t have to lose the cool factor, or the music, or anything you know I love and promote with RETOX, but I hope the community as a whole delves into the original texts promotes real, traditional yoga within the modernity.” —Lauren Imparato


See also
6 Poses to Cleanse You From the Inside Out with Lauren Imparato

Donna Farhi, yoga teacher, former YJ Asana Columnist, & acclaimed author

None

“I think it’s imperative as we move forward into the next decade and beyond, that we restore accessibility and inclusivity within yoga practice. For some time now there’s been a strong movement towards yoga becoming a form of physical elitism, with the emphasis on extreme, virtuosic postures that have little or no relevance to the average person. There are millions of people who could benefit from simple, gentle practices that lead to health, well-being, and ease in the body. When I view the extreme images posted on popular social media sites, I’m baffled as to who these people are speaking to because I’ve rarely met students who are remotely interested in doing these absurd practices. Let’s bring yoga back to the people and that will bring people back to yoga.” —Donna Farhi 


See also
 Asana Column: Virabhadrasana II (Warrior Pose II)

Eric Paskel, licensed marriage, family & child therapist & founder of Yoga Rocks

Eric Paskel anjali mudra

“Yoga is complete, permanent, unstained, and immovable. It’s been with humans for thousands of years, it’s here now and always will be. It doesn’t need to grow and certainly doesn’t need an ignoramus like me trying to improve it.

However, the business of yoga is a totally different beast. It’s like all other businesses—they come and go. The business of yoga isn’t important, but the study of yoga is. I’d love to see yoga studios become a place of study, introspection, and reflection, where asana was not offered but lectures, Jnana Yoga, and Karma Yoga were shared.

Yes, of course I will tend to the ‘hustle,’ because after all I am The Godfather of Yoga Rocks. I just have to keep in mind that the great business that I’ve been able to grow can’t take me away from the guy I really need to know. Personally, I’d like to see myself become more involved with the world inside of me that needs some ‘fixing.’ I think of U2 singing ‘I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.’ I don’t want to sing that song and feel that chorus for the rest of my life. I want to find what I have buried away underneath all my insecurities, fears, and attachments.

Where does Yoga need to go in the next decade? Nowhere, but I certainly need to live it more.” —Eric Paskel


See also
 That Time Eric Paskel Gave Up Yoga for the Gym…

Gina Caputo, founder of the Colorado School of Yoga

Gina Caputo

“For people to experience yoga’s full potential potency, I think we need to collectively shift emphasis away from the execution of complex, photo-worthy postures, and towards the cultivation of awareness and the transcendence of conditioned consciousness. In other words, much more balanced focus on the outer (gross) and inner (subtle) aspects of the practice.

If you think about it, all of the jewels of the practice, even those that seem purely physical, can be enhanced and augmented with greater and subtler awareness. Greater awareness also serves discernment, which will help students and teachers alike make more informed choices that benefit the practice, each other, and the industry that has grown up around it. Awareness is the root sutra, or thread, that connects your practice on the mat to your life off the mat.” —Gina Caputo


See also
What You Didn’t Learn in YTT: How to Actually Teach People 

Elena Brower, author of Practice You and Art of Attention

elena brower 5-day meditation challenge

“In the future I see our teaching moving toward more subtle body awareness, more breathwork, more listening. Asana is vital to a healthy, stable mind, but I’m seeing a need for more emphasis on the quiet, inner work that was taught those many thousands of years ago by the earliest adepts and sages. Every time I teach in those realms, I’m seeing a wave of relief in my classes, sparkles of understanding, and dissolving of fear. We empower ourselves by deeply listening for the innermost cues.” —Elena Brower


See also
Elena Brower’s 5-Day Yoga + Meditation Practice

Tracee Stanley, founder of Sankalpa Shakti Yoga and creator of Empowered Life Self-Inquiry Oracle

Tracee Stanley, senior Para Yoga teacher & Esalen faculty member

“In the next 10 years, I hope that the practice of yoga nidra will become just as popular as asana practice. We desperately need rest. At a 2010 tech conference, then Google CEO Eric Schmidt said that they were creating more information in 2 days than was created from the dawn of civilization until 2003. Imagine where they will be 10 years from now! Just how much of that information are we actually consuming and processing everyday? What effect is it having on our nervous system, our sleep, and our memory?

As more people discover and use the ancient technology of yoga nidra for healing, deep restoration, and spiritual awakening, I see it moving more into the mainstream. Many yogis are already beginning to discover the profound effects of Yoga Nidra and are bringing the practice into to their homes for their stressed spouses and over-homeworked children to practice—not to mention the profound healing for those affected by PTSD. In 10 years I would love to see studios completely dedicated to deep relaxation and yoga nidra become commonplace and the practice used in rehabilitation centers and hospitals everywhere.” —Tracee Stanley


See also
 Dharma Mittra Answers Readers’ Yoga Nidra FAQs

Rina Jakubowicz, bilingual yoga teacher and founder of Rina Yoga

Rina Easy Pose
David Young-Wolff

“There is no future to yoga and there is no past either. It just is. The external expression of the physical practice of yoga has changed dramatically since I started 18 years ago, and it will continue to change depending on how the masses apply it. But the essence of yoga (the internal truth) has never changed nor will it. That is why it’s so powerful and true.

No matter how much it’s been exploited, it remains constant and whole. Nor is it phased by all the differing adaptations and flat-out wrong information that is passed on. Those who seek the truth shall find it—even amongst all the clutter of social media, followers, trainings, festivals, videos, endorsements, etc.

I am hopeful, though, that through all the added exposure yoga is having on diverse media platforms, that other cultures become hungry in wanting to discover the absolute truth behind this magical and life-changing system. When that shift happens, you’ll see more people eager to come to a lecture about Jnana Yoga, Karma Yoga, and Bhakti Yoga than signing up for yet another Hatha Yoga class. Personally, that’s what makes me stay hungry as a teacher and a student.” —Rina Jakubowicz


See also 
Q&A with Bilingual Yoga Teacher Rina Jakubowicz

Coral Brown, yoga teacher and holistic psychotherapist

Coral Brown Anjali Mudra

“For so long we’ve been getting by on just the most gross principles of yoga, the physical practice and the products related to it. I think it would be phenomenal if you asked someone the meaning of vinyasa and instead of habitually stating ‘breath linked with movement,’ they’d say ‘to place with intention.’ I feel like we need to peel back a few more layers so that we relate to yoga as more than something we do, but as a state we experience on and off the mat. On the mat, injuries happen when we forget ‘to place with intention.’ 

As injuries become more and more prevalent in the yoga community, people are beginning to get the message that something is missing. Injuries can be a positive, as they force us to slow down, to reexamine, and to potentially change how we relate to asana and the practice of yoga. Injuries also send practitioners down a path of study related to injury prevention and functional anatomy, which are starting to trend now. There’s a tipping point, and I feel like we’re almost there.” —Coral Brown


See also
Nurture Ahimsa on the Mat

Trina Altman, creator of Yoga Deconstructed & Pilates Deconstructed

Trina Altman

“It will be interesting to see what happens as more yoga people get educated in the idea that you can’t just do one type of movement. It’s like, kale is really good for you. But if you only eat kale, you’re going to get sick and you might die. It’s the same thing with a movement diet. If you only do one kind of movement, you’re going to end up with muscular imbalances, your joints are gonna wear out, and you’re gonna get injured.

I think the disconnect is that people aren’t surprised when they play too much tennis and get tennis elbow or when they run too much and get runner’s knee. But they’re really surprised when they do too much asana and they get injured. I think as teachers it’s our responsibility to get this message out that #yogaeverydamnday needs to be changed to #yogaeverythirdday perhaps. Because you’re a lot less likely to get injured doing yoga if you’re also doing other types of movement, some strength training, maybe some cardiovascular training, mixing it up.” —Trina Altman 


See also 
3 Things Trina Altman Thinks Modern Postural Yoga Could Do Better

Maty Ezraty, co-founder of YogaWorks

“The quote ‘do your practice and all is coming’ taken out of context and too literally can lead to some unhappiness. As students and teachers if we just practice, practice, practice but the practice is incorrect, it can lead to injury to the mind and the body. The body takes the path of least resistance so injuries come, and our mental samskaras can just be further increased by the practice. 

In practicing yoga, it’s important that we stay away from becoming fundamentalists. No one system has all the answers. Just do the series and you’re going to get enlightened? No, if you’re 54 years old, you’re not going to put your leg in Half Lotus and fold forward in the first 20 minutes of class. Please, that’s not a good idea. Ashtanga is a very, very demanding sequence, and very often I think people take the sequence to be more important than the fundamental yoga principles like ahimsa. The heart of ashtanga is heat, concentration, personal practice. Heat for purifying body and mind, concentration so we see more clearly and make good choices, and personal practice where we test our knowledge, become grounded and balanced. Take these bigger guidelines of the sequence and apply them to the individual so that their practice serves them.” —Maty Ezraty

Read More The Future of Yoga: Where Maty Ezraty Thinks Yoga Needs to Go

Jillian Pransky, director of Restorative Therapeutic Yoga teacher training for YogaWorks

restorative yoga props

“The yoga community, I believe, is rethinking the approach that harder is better; people are starting to consider that we don’t have to beat ourselves up to create change. Our evolution actually happens when we care for ourselves gently rather than push ourselves around.

Mindful Yoga offers us the conditions to grow present, feel more connected, and listen to ourselves more deeply. To develop a new habit of paying close and tender attention to our body, our mind, and our heart so we can meet our ‘stress’ differently. When practiced this way, yoga provides us with more resources and a greater capacity—physically, mentally, emotionally, and relationally—to respond calmly, clearly, and wisely, and also to engage more fully and expansively in our life. We learn to bring our yoga practice off our mat and into the daily moments of our life. This not only changes the way we respond to stress, it actually leaves us feeling less stressed, increases the experience of peace and love in our life, and sets the conditions for us to evolve.” —Jillian Pransky

 Watch for more on this topic from Pransky this month.

Practice with her in Yoga Journal’s newest course, Restorative Yoga 101.

Faith Hunter, creator of Spiritually Fly and owner of Embrace Yoga DC

Faith Hunter

“In our fast-paced world, it is so easy to dismiss the past in an effort to move swiftly into the future. My HOPE is that yoga carries with it the fundamental elements that have supported, guided and deeply enhanced our lives through years of dedicated study and personal exploration. I often pause with sadness when I see the watering down of practices, the lack of basic knowledge by teachers, and the disregard of lineage.

As we move into the next stage, I hope teachers and students seek a deeper connection beyond what is currently being popularized as ‘yoga.’ Don’t get me wrong, it is essential for us to modernize the experience, but not to the point where we completely let go of the of the Eight Limbs and other ancient teachings that fully integrate body, mind, and spirit.

The future of yoga sits in our hands and hearts, not in the chaos of quick fixes, social media followers, and gimmicks. In the past 27 years, I spent the first 13 years ONLY as a student, and the last 14 years teaching from my personal practice. As the world changes around me, I often hear the voices of my teachers and my teachers’ teachers supporting my personal growth and reminding me how this is a practice of evolution that must remain connected to its roots. So my true vision is that the sacred knowledge of yoga continues to guide us in a way where we recognize deep study enhances our subtle awareness, equanimity is achieved when there is steadiness of the mind, and that we must integrate as well as honor teachings of the past.” —Faith Hunter


See also
Create Space for a Dedicated Home Practice

Kathryn Budig, founder of Aim True

Kathryn Budig Maty Ezraty

“The biggest thing that I see happening that makes me sad is that I feel like my era of teachers might be one of the last who still say who we trained with. You know where there was an actual mentorship and lineage happening.

There’s part of me that’s like OK, cool, so you learned yoga on YouTube and you learned yoga on Instagram. And I guess that’s the same as saying I first started to learn yoga when I picked up David Swenson’s book. It’s just that that led me to finding a studio and training with a teacher [Maty Ezraty]. I come from the lineage where you had to shadow teachers forever in person and not get paid. It was a very different world.

I’m one to bridge tradition because I feel that for yoga to persevere and survive, we have to modernize it and make it applicable to our surroundings. But it also needs to be mixed with this dedication and foundation of the lineage, because we need to know where it came from. We need to know what the rules are before we start breaking or modifying them.” —Kathryn Budig


See also
 Kathryn Budig on the Beauty of Being a Beginner

Judith Hanson Lasater, co-founder of Yoga Journal

Judith Hanson Lasater yoga teacher Iyengar

“Imagining yoga practice the West in 10 years, I see two paths. One is that there will be more scientific studies showing the specific physical and psychological benefits of the regular practice of asana, pranayama, and meditation. As part of this path, there will be an acceptance of, and scientific studies about, the general improvement in health and the prevention of long-term chronic disease that yoga can offer.

The second path is one that I am so hopeful will happen, and it is that the education of yoga teachers will evolve into a structure like this:

  • to teach yoga one must have the equivalent of an undergraduate degree
  • to train yoga teachers, one must have the equivalent of a Master’s degree
  • to practice as a yoga therapist, one would need the equivalent of a Ph.D.

Some of this educational path would be academic training, some would come directly from teaching experience and from mentoring programs with senior teachers. This last part is not dissimilar to the traditional teaching of one student, one teacher.” —Judith Hanson Lasater, PhD

Study with her in Yoga Journal’s Yoga Philosophy 101 online course

Jules Mitchell, M.S., yoga & biomechanics expert

Jules Mitchell, MS, yoga & biomechanics

“I might be biased since I’m literally writing the book on yoga and biomechanics, but regarding the asana component of teacher training, I would love to see an increased emphasis on biomechanics. Typically, in YTT programs we get anatomy instruction, mainly the identification and naming of musculoskeletal parts.

Biomechanics, particularly the branch that explores tissue properties, teaches us how those parts behave and adapt under load. Biomechanics adds the how, where, and why to the what. This knowledge extends to situations important to many yoga teachers including injury prevention and how to advise students with common musculoskeletal ailments (sprains, strains, arthritis, etc.).

Additionally, recent developments in tendon research can be applied to improve upon and modernize conventional cueing and sequencing. It is my position that a biomechanics background enables a yoga teacher to adapt and update their teaching style with confidence and purpose.” —Jules Mitchell, M.S.


See also
8 Keys to Take Your Yoga Teaching Beyond Standardized Alignment Cues 

Tiffany Cruikshank, founder of Yoga Medicine

Tiffany Cruikshank

“To move yoga forward in the scientific community as well as the larger non-yoga community, I think it really behooves us to consider what we put out there. One of the most important things we, as teachers, need to do to help keep yoga moving in a positive direction is be aware that our words (verbal and in print) carry a lot of power and influence. We have the opportunity to plant seeds of all sorts and we must be mindful of this. With the world and so much information at our fingertips, it’s important to consider the practice of satya extending into our classes and how we speak about yoga. It doesn’t benefit anyone to make large lofty statements or promises we can’t guarantee. It’s important to be mindful that we speak about yoga in a way that is both accurate with the information we have and that also empowers the student. It’s also easy as a teacher to go the opposite way and get caught up in the negative information out there. We must remember that it doesn’t serve anyone to use fear-based tactics, especially when working so intimately within this powerful mind-body network. We must create a positive reference point for our students to recalibrate toward.” —Tiffany Cruikshank


See also
 4 Things Tiffany Cruikshank Wants to See Yoga Teachers Prioritize

Leah Cullis, senior Baptiste teacher & teacher trainer

Leah Cullis performs Modified Side Plank, Bow Variation.

“In the next decade, I hope we’ll see a shift away from adding things onto yoga and move more towards simplifying. Life today is fast paced and busy, so I’m interested in distilling down the practices and principles of yoga for more practical application and value for life today. An hour of daily practice is essential, and I hope to see more about how we bring the practice to life in the other 23 hours of the day.” —Leah Cullis

Practice with her in our online course Pillars of Power Yoga with Baptiste Yoga’s Leah Cullis

Aadil Palkhivala, founder of Purna Yoga, Bellevue, Washington

“In the next decade, yoga needs to find integrity. This means that yoga students must go deeper, not broader. Yoga has become a flippant experience done two times a week rather than a deep personal self-exploration. The dilution of yoga with perfect nonsense has to stop. Beer yoga, chocolate yoga, goat yoga, nude yoga. These are abominations and a testament to how little is known of yoga by teachers and how little is desired of yoga by students.

The crux of the matter for the next decade is true teacher training—500 hours is simply not enough. When I asked my teacher, BKS Iyengar, what it would take to create a yoga teacher, he replied: ‘7 years of teacher training, 5 hours a day, 6 days a week.’ That, of course, did not include daily personal practice!!

Yoga taught today seldom is. It is time to make yoga yoga again.” —Aadil Palkhivala

Practice with him in Yoga Journal’s Master Class program

Leslie Howard, yoga teacher specializing in pelvic floor health

Leslie Howard

“My yoga teaching focuses on the sacred space of the pelvis. I believe the female pelvis is the perfect space to nurture the seeds of yoga and explore the direction to which modern yoga should grow in the next decade. Let’s find our voice as yoga professionals so we can release the muted throats of others.

Most people don’t talk about the pelvis. It’s an area that is very taboo in our culture, which is ironic because sexuality is everywhere. When something is going wrong, we’re afraid to talk about it. A lot of women are completely unfamiliar with their own bodies. Let’s reclaim our eggs. Can we make our pelvis a healthier, happier place? Can we use the right words—like ‘vulva,’ ‘vagina,’ and ‘clitoris’—without fear? My hope for women is that they are not embarrassed or ashamed of their bodies, that they get to know their bodies better and are empowered by that knowledge, that they have a curiosity and the self-assurance to question. There is a Pelvic Revolution coming. Let’s all be a part of it.” —Leslie Howard


See also 
Glute Anatomy to Improve Your Yoga Practice

Ana Forrest & Jose Calarco, self-proclaimed modern-day “Spiritual Detectives”

None

“We are shaping the future of yoga right now—into a comprehensive and profound experience. Life in the 21st Century is fast-paced. Most people don’t have time for separate regimes for all of their different physical and spiritual needs (we don’t!), so we have woven them all into Forrest Yoga. We navigate students through the four parts of our being; Spiritual, mental, emotional and physical. We came together in a ‘synergistic collision’ of cosmic proportions, integrating our worlds of yoga, music, Ceremony, First Nations’ culture, philosophy, healing, and shamanism, and we are bringing these into the yoga room.

The physical asana practice is a vital aspect of our healing and evolution. It is what brings most people to their first yoga class. However, yoga can offer much more than a delicious asana practice. Modern yoga needs the integration and knowledge from First Nations’ traditions and other spiritual insights, e.g., the arts and music. Our people are hungry for something that is real, raw, primal and authentic, and our yoga Ceremony is exactly that.” —Ana Forrest & Jose Calarco


See also
 Gravity Surfing with Ana Forrest

Bernie Clark, yoga teacher, author, and creator of YinYoga.com

Bernie Clark

“I guess the one overriding comment I would make when looking at yoga past, present or future is that people should realize that there never was ‘one’ yoga. Yoga has meant a variety of things to a host of people over the millennia: it can be a practice or the end result of a practice; it can be union or it can be divorce and liberation from a non-dualistic world view; it can be Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, Sufi, Christian, etc. No one invented yoga, no one can claim ownership (including cultural ownership) and no one can determine what yoga should be. Imagine if someone said ’only Christians are allowed to pray and only Christians know the proper way to pray!’ Prayer does not belong to anyone so anyone can pray, and do so in their own way. Going forward yoga will continue to defy definition and attribution.” —Bernie Clark

Watch for more on this topic from Clark this month.


See also 
8 Keys to Take Your Yoga Teaching Beyond Standardized Alignment Cues

Christina Sell, author and yoga teacher trainer

Christina Sell

“I see yoga as an educational process aimed at the drawing forth of one’s essential nature. Mantra, pranayama, asana, and meditation are technologies with the capacity to unlock virtues of the Heart like compassion, love, humility, connectedness, and empathy, which find their unique expressions in and through the individual who has experienced them. This journey inward toward one’s essence, and the authentic expression from such a recognition, is the future of yoga—safeguarded in and transmitted through those people for whom the journey is a living and direct experience.

I see encouraging narratives emerging in the industry including, but not limited to: accessibility, inclusivity, social activism, cultural appropriation, body positivity, the ethics of power, psychological and mental health education, as well as rich discussions about where asana meets functional movement. The structures that may emerge out of these explorations will certainly influence the future of the industry and how the average person will be introduced to the principles and practices of yoga. I look forward to a time when increased awareness facilitates greater clarity, discernment, and scrutiny in the marketplace; when intelligence, wisdom, and common sense are valued as the ground upon which the seeds of spiritual practice are sowed with reverence.

That being said, I do not think the future of yoga relies on the industry, the marketplace, or the changing tides of popularity. I believe it depends on each one of us engaging the transformational journey of yoga and becoming willing to be in service to those things that transform us. I see the future of yoga as a process of stewardship so that life-changing insights, understandings, and experiences can mature, deepen, and unfold in authentic ways.” —Christina Sell

See also 16 Yoga Poses to Find Instant Calm and Peace

Yogiraj Alan finger, co-founder of ISHTA Yoga, New York City

Yogiraj Alan Finger

“At ISHTA, our mission statement is that we are modern yogis practicing an ancient lineage. I feel that yoga is not going anywhere, but the yoga community will move back towards the amazing science that’s hidden in the secrets of yoga. Just as in the Yoga Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita, the interpretations change to suit the time—but the knowledge is always there.” —Alan Finger


See also
 Meet the Innovators: Alan Finger

Stephanie Snyder, founder of Love Story Yoga, San Francisco

Stephanie Snyder, Love Story Yoga

“I may have an opinion on where I think yoga can go in the next decade, but the fact is that yoga influences people we don’t influence yoga. So in that way I have faith that the practice will nudge us in the right direction—how long that takes depends on our own willingness and discrimination. With that in mind, my hope is that we honor the tradition and lineage and change our perspective to serve the yoga instead of trying to change the yoga to serve our perspective.

As a community I have seen so much growth and change in the past 20 years. I hope that in this next decade yoga becomes more accessible to even more people spanning social, economic, age, and gender gaps for instance. That we can truly experience a global connection and collective healing through the yoga of turning toward one another.” —Stephanie Snyder 


See also
 Stephanie Snyder’s Chakra Tuneup

Coby Kozlowski, faculty member of the Kripalu School of Yoga

Coby Kozlowski

“I believe that yoga itself is about discovering what is true and what is real, that it is about transformation. And so I imagine yoga will continue to transform. What is a “fad” will fade away, and what continues to support practitioners to a greater sense of home within themselves and the world around them will last. With ‘T’ruth and ‘R’eality being an aim of yoga, I would also imagine that whatever practices cause injury to body, mind, or spirit will need to shift toward more nourishing practices.

I believe that the power of yoga will outweigh its shadow. As a community, we would benefit by celebrating the diversity of yoga, rather than judging others’ practices. Because something isn’t my preference doesn’t mean it doesn’t work for someone else. We all start somewhere, and I hope we can continue to make yoga more inclusive to all communities. I hope that we can all put down our ‘weapons of judgment’ and trust that Yoga is bigger than any of us.” —Coby Kozlowski


See also
Daily Practice Challenge Tyrone Beverly and Coby Kozlowski: Meaningful Movement & Action