Have you dreamt about teaching yoga? You have plenty of company—in Hollywood. Celebs like Emma Watson and Demi Moore have recently taken their practice to the next level by becoming certified yoga teachers. And no, they're not just jumping on the latest fitness fad.
"A lot of celebrities with hectic schedules are welcoming the opportunity to explore their practice at the deep level that a teacher training demands," says Santa Monica yoga teacher Amy Lombardo, who has taught Gisele Bundchen and Laura Dern. "Whether or not someone actually teaches professionally is secondary to the personal journey. I don't know many people who go through a teacher training and don't have their lives totally transformed."
Brenda Strong, 54, who stars on the TNT remake of '80s soap opera Dallas, couldn't agree more. "No matter how demanding physically or emotionally my work is, I feel teaching grounds me in what is important," says the Desperate Housewives alum, who completed her teacher training in 1994 at YogaWorks with Erich Schiffmann.
Maybe that's why so many other celebrities are pursuing yoga beyond a casual practice. "I think most actors are very brave soul searchers and researchers of life," says Strong, who continues to teach workshops and run a teacher training once a year in the Los Angeles area for her fertility program, StrongYoga4Women. "Yoga provides that very exploration through daily practice. I can only speak for myself, but being an actor teaches me to shape space, have specific intentions. And leading a class employs the power of observation, presence and trust that I also use in my work as an actor, so it's a natural fit."
While it might be hard to take celebrities seriously as yoga teachers (insert eye roll here), Strong says those who become certified to teach are just as dedicated as anyone else. "Anyone—whether they are a celebrity or non-celebrity—that enters into a yoga teacher training program is serious about deepening their understanding of yoga asana and yoga philosophy,” she says. “These trainings are time intensive and require a tremendous commitment. I think anyone who goes to the extent of becoming a yoga teacher does it because they are deeply committed to self-growth."
Here are four other Hollywood stars who embarked on the yogic journey and why they might inspire you:
1. Emma Watson
The Harry Potter actress, 24, became certified to teach yoga and meditation last year as a way to cope with life on the road. "I was like, 'I need to find a way to always feel safe and at home within myself because I can never rely on a physical place," she told Elle Australia in April.
Reason You'll Relate: "Yoga is a practice that lives within you and you can take it wherever you go," Lombardo says. "I have found for folks that are constantly on the move, the foundation the training gives them provides them with a deep sense of grounding and stability and 'home' from within."
2. Demi Moore
After her divorce from Ashton Kutcher, Moore, 51, reportedly embarked on a three-day workshop to receive her Kundalini teaching certification at Nine Treasures Yoga studio in West Hollywood.
Reason You'll Relate: "Messy break-ups can leave you feeling unraveled and entirely vulnerable at the core," Lombardo says. "In a training program, you are given a lens to make sense of the recent trauma from the perspective of the soul. You are given an opportunity to turn your pain into fertilizer that is in better alignment with your truth."
3. Kristin Davis
Long before she became a household name as Charlotte on Sex and the City, Davis found her calling as an Ashtanga yoga teacher in Los Angeles. “I started doing yoga in my '20s,” the 49-year-old has said. “I did teacher training. That was what I was going to do if acting didn't work out. I started teaching other actors right at the beginning of the yoga craze.”
Reason You'll Relate: "Many find after a training they have a lot more clarity about where they want to go with their life and end up starting new jobs," says Lombardo. "It's quite a magical time of transformation and stepping into your own power in a greater way."
4. Ryan Kwanten
True Blood actor Ryan Kwanten, 37, is such a big believer in the power of a good Vinyasa flow that he completed 400 hours of training to become a certified yoga teacher. "Guys fear not being the best in these classes, but over time you learn how to spend an hour not worrying about what anyone else is thinking," the Aussie actor told Men's Health in 2010. "For guys, especially, that's a good thing."
Reason You'll Relate: "When you take on a training, you'll be challenged to learn how to use the practices to deal with the obstacles in your own path: worry, stress and anxiety,” Lombardo says. "With the support of the practices and a deep immersion in a supportive community, the teacher training often acts as a safe place to learn how to deal with these inner challenges and gain strength and confidence in your ability to calm the mind."
Want to turn your own fantasy of becoming a yoga teacher into a reality? Find a teacher training program near you here.
—Dana Meltzer Zepeda