Readers' Choice (Tie):
Tim Thompson at Monkey Yoga Shala and Rodney Yee at Piedmont Yoga Studio
Monkey Yoga Shala, 3215 Lakeshore Ave., Oakland, 510-595-1330, MonkeyYoga.com
Piedmont Yoga Studio, 3966 Piedmont Ave., Oakland, 510-652-3336, PiedmontYoga.com
The East Bay is awash with yoga teachers offering every imaginable contemporary style of the ancient Hindu practice from sweat-it-out Bikram to the rhythmic repetition of Ashtanga, but there is no one quite like Katchie Ananda. Ananda means "bliss" in Sanskrit and Katchie's classes provide an earthly taste of nirvana that yogis have been pursuing for millennia. Like many a great guru of yore, her wisdom and cultivated understanding of philosophy and alignment come swathed in humor with anecdotes from daily life interwoven with mythic tales from Hindu and Buddhist scripture. Her classes offer the perfect balance of a rigorous practice with a sharp eye on biomechanics to challenge the most advanced yogis, while still suiting newbies whose last stretch was for the TV's remote control. As she is wont to say, "If you can't get your nose to your knee you just don't have as far to go." Having taught for more than twenty years (she is certified in Anusara, Jivamukti and Integral), Ananda has timeless grace. In today's yogapalooza world, her wisdom, whimsy, and rock-solid knowledge of the body and the human condition deliver with abundance on the age-old promises of yoga.