Shiva Rea, Deepak Chopra, Ali Cramer, Rod Stryker and Sarah Finger – the five American wellbeing heroes you need to know about.

Shiva Rea, Deepak Chopra, Ali Cramer, Rod Stryker and Sarah Finger – the five American wellbeing heroes you need to know about.

In the sea of wellbeing gurus and pundits, the ones that truly stand out have adapted ancient wellbeing traditions to better address chronic contemporary mental and physical health issues.

These are the five heroes we are celebrating today.

Shiva Rea

Shiva Rea is one of the most inspiring women we’ve encountered.

She was on a PhD path in dance anthropology until she broke her pelvis in a car accident, was evacuated from Topanga fires and lost her mother to brain cancer -  all in the same year.

That year taught Shiva that the vinyasa (flow) of life is: change. And that we must live our deepest passion now. She changed from being, in her own words, “a tight, disconnected, over-thinking, type-triple A, pitta athelete and academic” into a yogini who was in tune with the flow of nature and her innate happiness.

Shiva brings the power of yoga into the flow of life and her Prana Vinyasa classes feel like fluid dance sessions. We love how Shiva combines dance, science and music with flow yoga. Her practice connects you to the core elements of your own body as well as the flow of nature and life itself. Prana Vinyasa moves through a progression of salutations (namaskars), sequences, and peak asanas to inner regeneration and awareness.

Deepak Chopra

Deepak Chopra satiates our need to combine data and science with ancient tradition.

Co-founder of The Chopra Center for Wellbeing and a pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation, Chopra is also an MD. He has written over 85 books, with our favorite being Quantum Healing: Exploring the Frontiers of Mind/Body Medicine. It is groundbreaking and includes the latest scientific research on the connection between the body and mind.

When patients who had been given just a few months to live made inexplicable recoveries in Dr. Chopra’s own practice, he began his search for answers. He returned to India, to explore the world’s oldest medicinal tradition, Ayurveda, and combined its insights with conventional medicine, neuroscience, and physics. Amazingly, Dr. Chopra discovered a "network of intelligence" in the human body with the potential to defeat cancer, heart disease, even aging itself - Quantum Healing makes a great read. 

Ali Cramer

We love Ali’s philosophy that yoga and Ayurveda go hand in hand. A yoga and Ayurveda teacher in New York City, Ali began her career as a professional dancer. When a friend suggested she try Yoga to help heal her dance injuries, she didn’t know that taking the advice would completely change her life.

While Ali is well-versed in the doshas, she believes, just as we do, that there are general Ayurvedic principles and rituals that work for everyone.

“While we are all our own unique beings with our own unique needs, there are some generalizations that can be made…in the same way that for all of us, if we never sleep, we’re going to feel terrible, if we’re eating nothing but junk food we’re going to feel terrible….there are also things that pretty much I can guarantee will make us all feel good ” (here’s a link to the full video About Ali: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGPToh5TKTk)

All her flows are based around the pitta, vata, or kapha seasons, and you'll experience an intuitive mix of yoga, Ayurveda and the chakra system to balance out the imbalances of daily life.

Rod Stryker

“Sleep is a transition from minutiae to expansiveness.” - Rod Stryker

Rod Stryker is the founder of ParaYoga and ParaYoga Nidra, which is the science of deep relaxation and healing.

Yoga Nidra (or yogic sleep) is a guided meditation to induce full body relaxation and deep rest. It helps quiet the overactive mind, inviting it into a deep, conscious meditative state, in which brain waves slow down. It feels wonderful and has helped with anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic pain and insomnia.

Stryker defines ParaYoga from Sanskrit as meaning “the highest result possible when we put in effort.” His methodology involves deep study of tantra, Ayurveda, and yogic philosophy. His book, The Four Desires: Creating a Life of Purpose, Happiness, Prosperity, and Freedom, was published in 2011 and has been widely celebrated in the yoga world for encouraging inner fulfillment and complete joy through a look into our innate human desires as outlined by the yogic tradition.

We are so looking forward to Stryker’s upcoming book, Enlightened Sleep.

Sarah Platt - Finger

We love Sarah’s grace, symmetry and poise. She is the co-founder of ISHTA Yoga and the private yoga teacher of Dr. Deepak Chopra. We follow her on Instagram where her writing and visuals go a long way in making us feel calm and centered.   

Sarah believes that the practice of yoga can be used as a microcosm of the reality we create for ourselves off the mat, and that a deeper awareness of our physical, mental, and emotional habits can both transform and empower us to connect to our most authentic self. She fully understands modern stresses and aggravators and we love how she applies yoga to calm them. 



Tejal Ramnathkar Engman is the co-founder of Malavara. Having left India at 17, she has come full circle to her herb-mixing granny's Ayurvedic beauty traditions. Tejal lives in Washington, DC, and her new year's resolution is to squeeze more hot yoga into a schedule that is currently consumed by a rambunctious 4-year-old, a day job in real estate, and her passion, Malavara.

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