Ten (Sexy, Sassy, Rich & Powerful) Yoginis You Should Already Know.

Via Leigha Butler
on Oct 23, 2010
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How to narrow so many crazy-wonderful, rockstar yogini powerhouses to a top-ten list?

Why, using the methodology of the heart and gut, of course.

{Note: If this strikes you as a double-yawn list of usual suspects, scroll all the way down.}

Here lies a (totally incomplete) list of women who’ve taught, led, inspired and breathed their special light into thousands upon thousands of awed and grateful students. We thank them for their lessons, their spirit and the marketing savvy that keeps new yogis arriving daily on crisp, virgin mats.


10. Sierra Bender.

Sierra Bender‘s M.O. is, as a Goddess. When she was a young model, Bender was the victim of sexism and abuse; today, her painful past motivates her “wholistic” approach to women’s wellness. Her Boot Camp for Goddesses® aims to help women heal themselves using movement, ritual and feminine fellowship.

9. Tara Stiles.

Tara Stiles

“Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful” could be an appropriate slogan for model Tara Stiles, whose success owes much to her svelte and symmetrical person. In some circles her name is shorthand for the hyper-sexualization of yoga. Still, there’s no denying that she attracts newcomers to yoga, people whose formerly asana-less lives are brightened by videos like “Yoga For Bed time [sic]” & “Hotel Room Yoga.”

8. Gurmukh.

If you don’t appreciate Chakra-talk w/out the anthropological lens, then Kundalini teacher Gurmukh is probably not for you. But then, the uni-name probably gave that away. Her soft-spoken instruction emphasizes divine healing, mantra and, naturally, the Kundalini kriyas—all delivered from the comfort of her 22,000-sq-ft. L.A. studio.

7. Shiva Rea.

Shiva Rea is to yoga what Jack Kerouac is to literature. Her Prana Flow Vinyasa classes and DVDs encourage spontaneous expression, a true “flow” of movement that’s supposed to bring practitioners to a higher plane of consciousness. She’s also well known for praising the importance of music in movement classes. And, like any true yogini-cum-icon, she puts out her own albums.

6. Lilias Folan.

If I called her the “First Lady of Yoga,” I’d be the thirty-three-thousandth person to do so. Whoops? Folan is widely credited with bringing yoga to the American masses via her popular PBS program, which showcased her gentle and encouraging teaching style. The program began in ’72 and ran into the ’90s! Read her latest book: Lilias! “Yoga Gets Better With Age“.

5. Sharon Gannon.


Co-founder of the Jivamukti Yoga Method, Sharon is the beautiful half of a powerhouse partnership with husband David Life. Gannon identifies herself as a yoga master, animal advocate, artist, dancer, musician and author. The Jivamukti method encourages devotion, prayer, chanting, song, study and activism in addition to asana practice.

4. Beryl Bender Birch.


One of the earliest American Ashtangis, Beryl Bender Birch has been teaching yoga since the ’70s. She’s the author of the wildly popular Power Yoga. Today, her methodology is not strict-Ashtanga, but her classes incorporate elements of the eight-limbed path. She makes her home in East Hampton.

3. Sadie Nardini.

If you’ve ever searched “yoga” or any number of derivative words on YouTube, you’re already acquainted with Sadie Nardini. Among many other reasons to love Sadie is her eagerness to share her insights about success. She isn’t threatened by the idea that you too might become a online sensation. In fact, she’s made it her job to help you realize the fullest expression of you.

2. Seane Corn.

Seane Corn

What is it about Seane Corn? Is it the fact that you can taste the sincerity that fuels her loquaciousness? Is it her ever-so-gravelly-but-liquid-lovely voice? Her moppy locks? Whatever it is, it’s tough not to love, love, love Seane Corn. Among many other projects is her Off the Mat, Into the World program, which is dedicated to helping yogis engage in activism and selfless service. See also: The Global Seva Challenge.

1. You.

You can’t afford a web designer, an agent, or a bookkeeper. By God, you didn’t even spring for the eco-friendly mat. You haven’t trademarked a single word or phrase, and your best photographer is also the person you’re sleeping with. But dammit, your mountain pose is exemplary and you’re on the mat at least a few times a week. Here’s to you, yogini. Your everydayness is more inspiring than a thousand gurus doing garbha pindasana inverted.


So, go ahead. Who’d I miss?


Top tens coming soon, maybe… “Lesser Known Yoginis Worth Knowing,” “YouTube Yoginis,” “Plus-Size Yogini Sensations,” and “Honorary Yoginis: Women who don’t practice yoga but embody its ideals….”


About Leigha Butler

Leigha Butler writes about yoga, happiness and sustainability here and at Willows Wept Review. She teaches Vinyasa yoga and English lit in New York's Hudson Valley and holds a master's in Literature & Environment from the University of Nevada, Reno. Find her on Twitter, or via email.


70 Responses to “Ten (Sexy, Sassy, Rich & Powerful) Yoginis You Should Already Know.”

  1. […] wise one, this dame, having achieved enormous success in her career, and now, finding herself quite wealthy as a result, enjoys the time, the resources, the fire and the freedom to do whatever the hell she […]

  2. Sarah says:

    How is it that all of the Yogini's listed above are all Americans?

    Am I just cynical – or have you really lost focus of reality here??

  3. Tasja says:

    This is all sooo funny. ha ha

  4. Vanita says:

    Elena Brower and Kathryn Budig can have my spot on the list. 🙂

  5. Wow says:

    Get off your high horse David! You passing such judgement makes you look like a snide idiot. Only you know the one true real & pure yoga right? Do you have a purity stamp on your ass that signifiies you're doing it all right? Why get so confrontational and "holier than thou" with someone and pass such harsh judgement solely based on the name they chose to post under this ridiculous blog?

  6. Kevin says:

    What an absurd and grotesque title. Looks like Yoga have become more of a profitable trend, fashion, sexual attraction and show off nowadays. Let's be clear, Yoga is about connecting to your highest self, you as peaceful and content, as well as healthy. Through breath work, physical postures, and meditation, yoga is a comprehensive tool for wellness and cultivating mindfullness. The sole purpose of yoga is not for exercise. It’s intent is for acceptance of the person as a whole, not to lose weight, tone thighs, or flatten abs, look sassy, rich and all that crap. Yoga is for everybody and everyone can benefit from even the most basic elements of yoga practice. The key is to find a place to practice that focuses on the tradition, not the stupid trend that it got turned into. Remember that the spirit of yoga is not in competition, but integration of the physical and spiritual self.

  7. Darren says:

    Patanjali is shaking his head and laughing…

  8. Rhonda Prestegard says:

    Sianna Sherman, Noah Maze, Christina Sell, Desiree Rumbaugh, all amazing yogins, yoginis. So much love and heart from these people

  9. Patience P. says:

    Unfortunately, a
    s far as I can tell, not one is a woman of colour.!

  10. Tara says:

    Why are people getting all bent out of shape over the title?
    You present several yoginis we may not know–and provide brief, useful comments to help guide us to learn more about those whose styles/areas of interest might speak to us or someone we know as we deepen our practice and share yoga with others.
    Thank you for this thoughtful information!

  11. CYA says:

    All these women are beautiful…and they have done their homework….

  12. Kayla says:

    'Why is it that you can see the splinter in your brother's eye but not the beam in your own?' Aren't we all yogi's here? Not to say that some of your concerns are not unfounded, but many of us are forgetting the most important tenants of yoga….truth and compassion…satya and ahimsa. Speak your truth, but do so with kindness and inspiration, not hate and bitterness. Namaste all.

  13. Marshall Zee says:

    This list is one of the lowest moments of The Elephant Journal. Well, perhaps we should be positive and remember how many good articles The Elephant Journal already published.

  14. Lawrence Huff says:

    I teach yoga, and (amazingly) meditation, in libraries and prisons. For free. Therefore, I am not rich and powerful. Being male and 67 I look like hell. If they start calling me a "Yoga God" I will quit.

  15. JJJ says:

    I had very similar thoughts before, until I actually met some of these amazing teachers in person and saw how they are so much MORE than their hairdo and fame. I actually thought Seane Corn is so "wannabecool" with that shaved right eyebrow, so superficial… And then I met her in person and learned from her that of course it's a scar from a severe accident she had, and I was truly amazed by her teaching on all levels. And so ashamed of myself, for not only thinking that she shaved her eyebrow, but judging her for something she didn't even do… So, I haven't met all of the ladies listed in the article, but the ones I did meet surely do deserve the fame, it's not "made up" around them…

  16. Ali says:

    I totally agree with you David. Who cares if they are "sexy, rich or powerful"? I think the headline was just to get people to click on the link. It worked for me, out of curiosity, I'm embarrassed to say. 🙁 I'll know better next time, what a waste of space on an otherwise pretty good website. Too bad it wasn't called: 10 Compassionate Yoginis Who Have Done Seva for the Planet or something like that. Would as many people have clicked?

  17. Anna says:

    Yes to both of these!!!

  18. Paula says:

    Shari Freidrickson, Sandra Anderson, Rolf Sovik

  19. Hope says:

    Oh, WOW … Kino MacGregor & Kathryn Budig as well (two of my favorites)!!! So many …. and more to come! A yogini's smile from the heart is CONTAGIOUS!!! =)