RateYourBurn | L.A.'s 30 Best Yoga Instructors of the Year

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We wanted to look back at 2012 and shed light on the instructors who made the biggest splash over the past year. L.A. is a city chock-a-block with talented yogis, which made this list extremely hard to whittle down. Here are the 30 most popular, buzzed-about yoga instructors on the Los Angeles scene. Note that many of them have not been reviewed yet, so if you've taken class with one of these bigwigs (or anyone else, for that matter) don't forget to write a review!

best of yoga instructors

One of the challenges of compiling a list of top yoga instructors is that each yogi's style is so different and unique, it's difficult to compare them. These guys and gals made the cut because they really made an impact on the L.A. yoga culture in 2012.

30. Deanna Ainsworth

(Hot 8 Yoga)

The director of Hot 8 Yoga, Deanna's teaching is all about healing. For her, yoga is simply a conduit for making the body whole again. She has trained with some of the yoga greats, and she is a wonderful teacher with a perfect yoga voice. She is also a believer in meditation and healing with plant therapy. This holistic approach comes through in her teaching.

Check out Deanna's RYB profile or write her a review here.

Deanna Ainsworth_Yoga_8_yoga_review

29. Jake Feree

(Fitness Factory L.A.Equinox, Crunch, Up Dog Fitness)

Known as "Trainer Jake," this dashing yogi made an appearance on L.A.'s hottest male fitness instructors list, as well—a man who is both talented and gorgeous. In his teaching, Jake is known for consistently delivering strong classes and connecting on a personal level with his students. Though you'll find traditional elements in his class, Jake's practice adds a modern touch with refreshing music and a touch of humor.

Check out Jake's RYB profile or write him a review here.

jake ferree_Yoga Instructor_Review

28. Brent Laffoon

(Up Dog Fitness, Equinox, Rising Lotus Yoga, The Hub )

Brent is an all-around yoga lover. He has trained in many styles of yoga, including Iyengar, Ashtanga, Bhakti, and Tripsichore. His classes seem to combine the best of all worlds. Expect to get a serious workout but also to walk out uplifted and feeling on top of the world. If you're a music lover, you may love Brent's class even more. Just as he pulls from all genres of yoga, so too he pulls from all genres of music. His class will leave all of your senses utterly titillated.

Check out Brent's RYB profile or write him a review here.

Brent Laffoon_best_yoga_instructor_LA_2012

27. Eric Paskel

(Yoga Shelter)

This ain't yo mamma's yoga class. Eric Paskel leads a high-cardio yoga blend class that involves both downward dogs and upward jumps. His students pack the place out and swear by his unconventional yoga formula. Prepare to sweat your bouncy little yogabutt off.

Check out Eric's RYB profile or write him a review here.

Eric Paskel_Yoga Shelter_Review

26. Mary Strong

(The Green Yogi)

Looking for a little less om? Mary's specialty is offering a practice that's not overly spiritual. She teaches a very accessible style of yoga for students who prefer moving over chanting. You won't find any Sanskrit in Mary's class, but you will find a challenging vinyasa that will leave you smiling from ear to sweaty ear. She also loves to get to know her students personally, so expect some one-on-one yoga love.

Check out Mary's RYB profile or write her a review here.

Mary Strong

25. Jennifer Smith

(Equinox, Balance Yoga)

As a yogi who came from the dark side (AKA the corporate world that most of us live in), Jen's story is relatable to many. If you like your yogi to appreciate the value of non-yoga fitness (and help you use yoga to recover and enrich your other fitness feats), Jen may be for you. She is also a spin instructor and a group fitness manager at Equinox, and she runs a yoga retreat organization, called Retreat Yourself Well.

Check out Jennifer's RYB profile or write her a review here.

Jennifer Smith_Equinox_yoga_rating

24. Whitney Kirk

(Bikram Yoga)

Favorited by one of our bloggers earlier this year, Whitney injects new life into a practice that is always the same 26 postures. Always smiling and bubbly, you can't help but absorb a little (or a lot) of her constant happiness. Just being in the same room will make your day better. She's great at varying her voice intonation, and though she is sweet, she leads a strong class, keeping an eye out for students who need some adjusting. Whether you're a Bikram addict or have been dying to try it out, Whitney could be your gal.

Check out Whitney's RYB profile or write her a review here.

whitney kirk yoga


23. Stacy Matulis

(The Raven)

Stacy is another wonderful teacher with a focus on the healing powers of yoga. She speaks openly about her struggles with body image dysmorphia. Knowing how yoga can help us overcome our demons makes Stacy a particularly compassionate and empathetic teacher. Her classes can be enjoyed by all, but she is especially nurturing for those who have struggled with addictions or body image disorders. Stacy is also a massage therapist and sober coach.

Check out Stacy's RYB profile or write her a review here.

Stacy Matulis_The Raven_rating

22. Jill Miller

(Liberation YogaEquinoxLila Yoga, Dharma & Wellness)

You may know Jill from her popular "Yoga Tune Up" DVD series, but if you haven't practiced with her in the flesh, you're in for a treat. Her background is in massage therapy, so you may get a taste of her delicious adjustments (you can't get that with a DVD!). Jill is funny and very patient with students of all levels. You will particularly enjoy her if you like teachers with a focus on anatomy and alignment.

Check out Jill's RYB profile or write her a review here.

Jill Miller_equinox_rating

21. Emilie Perz

(JK Zen FitnessLiberation YogaInYoga CenterU Studio YogaTruYoga)

Emilie is a yoga-blondie you'll want to meet. Her classes are tough nuts, but you'll always find them centered around an intention. Emilie has studied Eastern philosophy as part of her yoga training, and she herself fell in love with yoga because of the residual effects she felt from her practice off the mat. Expect to look inward as you exert yourself in a challenging sequence.

Check out Emilie's RYB profile or write her a review here.

Emilie Perz_best_yoga_instructor_LA

20. Mary Beth LaRue

(Yogis Anonymous, Studio Surya Yoga)

Mary Beth, a self proclaimed "Yogi + Writer + Blisscrafter," is an adorable yogi with a wicked wit. Her main concern: happiness. Mary Beth wants you to be happy, and her ability to make you happy will be apparent if you show up for a yoga class. Her theme is bliss. She writes a daily blog called Ananda, which means just that in Sanskrit. She has worked with yogis from all walks of life, spreading her own cute brand of yoga joy to those struggling with addiction, mental illness, teenager-hood, Down Syndrome, depression, you name it—and those who are just seeking more happiness in their lives.

Check out Mary's RYB profile or write her a review here.

Mary Beth LaRue_best_yoga_instructor_LA


*#19 on our list wished to remain anonymous. You'll have to fill it in with your own favorite teacher!

18. Kourtney Kaas

(YogaHop, BodyWellness, Yogis Anonymous)

Are you looking for a judgement-free zone? Step into class with Kourtney Kaas, whose inspirational classes leave her students craving more. Known for her creative sequencing, many of her students describe her as having an incredible energy (and, eh em, she is an energetic healer… whatever that means, it's working). Her soft voice eases you into positions that may have once seemed unattainable, shedding light on the power your mind has over your physical body.

Check out Kourtney's RYB profile or write her a review here.

Kourtney Kaas_best_yoga_instructor_LA_2012

17. Adrienne Belai

(Ocean Mist Yoga, Yoga Vibe, Urth YogaYogala Echo Park )

The theme of Adrienne's yoga teaching is transformation. Having been transformed herself by the discovery of yoga, she aims to bestow that same gift upon her students. Adrienne's style is funny and light; however she has deep knowledge in anatomy and alignment, which is apparent in her teaching. She uses humor to help coax her students into correct alignment, teaching a class that is both enjoyable and educational.

Check out Adrienne's RYB profile or write her a review here.

Adrienne Belai_best_yoga_instructor_LA_2012

16. Joan Hyman

(YogaWorks, Yogis Anonymous)

The theme of Adrienne's yoga teaching is transformation. Having been transformed herself by the discovery of yoga, she aims to bestow that same gift upon her students. Adrienne's style is funny and light; however she has deep knowledge in anatomy and alignment, which is apparent in her teaching. She uses humor to help coax her students into correct alignment, teaching a class that is both enjoyable and educational.

Check out Joan's RYB profile or write her a review here.

Joan Hyman_best_yoga_instructor_LA_2012

15. Marla Apt

(Iyengar Yoga Institute of Los AngelesYogaWorks)

Marla Apt is a distinguished Iyengar instructor and has studied with both BKS Iyengar and his children (she returns to India often to refresh). What makes Marla special, other than her educational and enlightening classes, is her work in identifying and publicizing the medical benefits of yoga. She has aided with university research using yoga for the treatment of anxiety, depression, and IBS. Marla has dedicated her life to helping others discover the life-changing benefits of the yogic arts - pop over to one of her classes and she'll likely convert you to the school of I-love-Iyengar (and the school of I-love-Marla).

Check out Marla's RYB profile or write her a review here.

Marla Apt_best_yoga_instructor_LA_2012

14. Vinnie Marino


Vinnie's well-known practice is STRONG. He is known for his contemporary music choices (trance, rock, high-energy stuff) and a challenging vinyasa flow. Vinnie's story is also inspiring - he openly talks about his road through addiction, and credits yoga (hard, sweaty yoga) as a "vehicle of freedom". His candor and his ability to open the floodgates that his students once called pores has made him a cornerstone of the LA yoga scene.

Check out Vinnie's RYB profile or write him a review here.

Vinnie Marino_best_yoga-instructor_LA_2012

13. Maureen Lantz

(Yoga Circle Downtown)

Maureen's shtick: gratitude. If you're looking for a teacher who will calm you with a soft voice and a loving adjustment, ommmm-on over to Yoga Circle. She's known for ending her practice with a lavender oil-infused massage on the temples and forehead. If you have any concerns or issues (injuries, pregnancy, or you just need a little extra lovin') Maureen may truely be your yoga teacher soulmate.

Check out Maureen's RYB profile or write her a review here.

Maureen Lantz_best_yoga_instructor_LA_2012

12. Simi Cruz


For Simi, a dedicated Ashtanga yogi, yoga is all about introspection - looking inside as you practice and figuring out what needs to be fixed. Simi errs on the spiritual side of things, but she herself is a perfect example of how physical and spiritual go hand in hand - if you have the pleasure of watching her practice, you'lls see what we mean. She glides through the most challenging of poses with unusually effortless grace. Simi found happiness through yoga - and she just might help you do the same.

Check out Simi's RYB profile or write her a review here.

Simi Cruz_best_yoga_instructor_LA_2012

11. Anthony Benenati

City Yoga

The co-founder of City Yoga  with his wife, Anthony is a favorite for his teaching style and for the connection he fosters with students. He makes students think about what their body needs on a given day - are you doing it because you want to do it, or because your body wants to do it? He is humorous, friendly, and delivers a yoga class that will leave you refreshed and happy.

Check out Anthony's RYB profile or write him a review here.

Anthony Benenati_City Yoga_Review

10. Meaghan Kennedy Townsend

(Updog Fitness)

Meaghan Kennedy, a Harvard-educated ex-Wallstreeter, is the founder of UpDog Yoga and cycling, and as you might expect from someone who straddles the worlds of yin and yang, her classes are rigorous. Her flow is fresh and smart, and the class sizes are somewhat intimate. And yes... she's actually a relative of THE Kennedys.

Check out Meaghan's RYB profile or write her a review here.

Meaghan Kennedy Townsend_Updog Yoga_review

9. Briohny Smyth

(Equinox-West HollywoodEquinox-Marina del ReyBlack Dog YogaYogis Anonymous)

Briohny Smith was catapulted into nationwide yogafame this year when Equinox's Q blog featured her in a gorgeous, sex-ified yogavid. The video spurred a host of critics and staunch defenders alike - RateYourBurn just sat here and said, "this chick is hot, talented, and maybe this video will make more people want to try yoga. What's the problem?" As far as her clas goes, Briohny teaches a strenuous class with a focus on alignment. Her teachers were Annie Carpenter and Lisa Walford.

Check out Briohny's RYB profile or write her a review here.

Briohny Smyth_Equinox_review

8. Ashley Turner

(Yogis Anonymous)

This popular Laguna Beach yogi is all about a strong flow full of twists and core work, but always accompanied by a theme or lesson. Ashley takes on the practice of yoga from a psychological angle, and asks her students to be mindful of the things that come up when they are on the mat. You'll get a sweat, but you'll walk away with some food for thought, too.

Check out Ashley's RYB profile or write her a review here.

Ashley Turner_Yogis Anonymous_review

7. Seane Corn


Want to dig deep? Do you like your yoga with a side of introspection and spirituality? Seane is a yoga teacher with a strong point of view. She does not shy away from the divine; she seeks to have her students explore their bodies  and brains in a style fusing mind and body.

Check out Seane's RYB profile or write her a review here.

Seane Corne_Yoga_review

6. Andrea Marcum

(U Studio Yoga)

Andrea Marcum, the founder of U Studio, is another athlete-gone-yogi. Andrea, however, was accustomed to being surrounded by uber-flexible spider-monkey-types long before her first downward dog; her sport was gymnastics. If you show up at a class with Andrea, expect a very unique and creative flow with a lighthearted gal who is full of jokes. Need a testimonial? Ask Heather Graham, who can often be found practicing alongside her.

Check out Andrea's RYB profile or write her a review here.

Andrea Marcum_U Studio Yoga_review

5. Kathryn Budig

(Yoga Works-Santa Monica MainYoga Works-Santa Monica)

Kathryn's main objective is to leave her students with a smile. Her style is fun, light hearted and playful - "yoga is love" kinda way. She's funny and creative, but infuses the practice with an I-can-do-anything attitude that transcends the classroom.

Check out Kathryn's RYB profile or write her a review here.

Kathryn Budi_Yoga Works_Review

4. Cherie Rae

(Peace Yoga Gallery)

The founder of Peace Yoga Gallery, for Cherie, yoga is not a hobby or a side job; it is her life. Cherie has been using yoga as a tool to help people for years, and has the flock of devotees to prove it. Cherie's students describe her style is extroverted and eccentric. She has a drill-sergeant-y flare, and don't be shocked to hear a profanity or two during class - but it's all part of her charm. Get ready for a taste of something totally different for your yoga palette!

Check out Cherie's RYB profile or write her a review here.

Cherie Rae_best_yoga_instructor_LA

3. Steven Earth Metz

(Earth's Power Yoga)

Steven Metz is a lover of anything that involves movement and sweat. As a multi-disciplinarian, he loves yoga for its ability to heal (he himself has used his practice to heal from multiple injuries). His love for the outdoors gained him the middle nickname "Earth" (he loves to hike, climb, surf, mountain bike... ). If you're looking to be taught by someone who applies a deep knowledge of movement to his practice, check him out.

Check out Steven's RYB profile or write him a review here.

Steven Earth Metz_Earth's Power Yoga

2. Clay Kyle

(Yoga Works)

Do you need some healing? Clay Kyle fuses yoga and a background in psychotherapy for an experience that aims to transform his from students inside out. He has also studied Body Work, and you know what that means... thoughtful, informed, blissful adjustments. Clay discovered yoga through his own need to heal, and he spreads that love out via his thoughtful classes.

Check out Clay's RYB profile or write him a review here.

Clay Kyle_Yoga_Life_Review

1. Rudy Mettia

(Santa Monica Power Yoga)

Rudy takes the cake as LA's most popular yoga instructor of 2012. His classes are tough, but yogis from all walks of life can be found flowing it out under his guidance. He's stern (military background) funny (think dry & witty) and his calling card is to make yoga accessible for all kinds of people who previously found it out-of-reach. His class is a true gem on the LA yoga scene, and a must-try if you're in the neighborhood.

Check out Rudy's RYB profile or write him a review here.

Rudy Mettia_Santa Monica Power Yoga

Plus, check out our other Best-of-2012 lists:

Leave a Comment

Comments 15 Comments

Madeline 01/04/2013

Congrats to all the teachers mentioned. This is a great concept but couldn't the people who came up with this list include some minority teachers in the list? Where's the diversity?

RateYourBurn 01/04/2013

Hi Madeline! Thanks so much for your comment, and you make a valid point. To be clear, we pay no attention to race or gender when assembling these lists (you can check out the New York lists we've assembled as well). Stay tuned for more top lists coming out this week in Pilates, Barre, Spin, Boot Camp, and other categories. These lists may appear more "diverse" than the one above, but again, the only diversity consider here is diversity of experience and talent. That said, if you have instructors that you love (or don't love) you should absolutely write them a review on RateYourBurn! The best way to call our attention to new instructors is to write them up on the site. Our team reads all of the reviews that come in and we often tweet them out as well @rateyourburnLA. Thanks again! -Team RYB

Rose Perry 01/09/2013

Congratulations! I agree with Madeline. Where is the diversity. There are many older teachers and teachers of color that deserve to be seen. Thank You!

RateYourBurn 01/09/2013

@Rose Perry - We encourage you to review any instructors you love on RateYourBurn.com.

Michele Ogilvie 01/16/2013

Congratulations to all... but I would like to suggest that this list be called: "The Most POPULAR Yoga Teachers of the Year"—rather than the "Best".

RateYourBurn 01/16/2013

@Michele - show your favorite instructors love by writing them a review on RYB! #instructorlove

Michele Ogilvie 01/17/2013

@RateYourBurn... my favorite yoga teachers already know who they are. Thanks.

Whitney 01/18/2013

Hi! I believe # 24 is me- Whitney Kirk - I teach in la at bikram Silverlake and in the desert at university village. The picture is not me tho. The rate your burn article is about me . Check out www.bikramyogasilverlake.com or www.facebook.com/whittydancer for a picture of me. I'm blonde. Thanks-Whitney Kirk ... (I am honored . thank you so much....I just want to make sure it's a picture of me .)

RateYourBurn 01/18/2013

Hi Whitney! We are so sorry or this error - obviously we had the correct photo for the first article so we don't know how this second one was erroneously uploaded. Thanks so much for indicating the mistake, it has now been fixed!

Chris 01/27/2013

Ranking yoga teachers. How tremendously yogic.

Wada zc 04/24/2013

Where is Bryan kest?

Masa 11/29/2013

Bryan Kest and all the teacher at his studios as well as the one he co-founded in the valley, Inner Power Yoga.
All amazing.

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