Esther Ekhart is the founder of Ekhart Yoga and a pioneer of bringing the practice to people in the comfort of their own home. Through her online classes and YouTube Channel, Esther has made yoga accessible through her video tutorials and virtual workshops. Her teaching style is fluid and easy to follow for beginners and advanced students alike. Recently, Esther became the international spokesperson for the Yoga & Pilatesthon Global Fundraiser for Doctors without Borders (MSF). The following Q&A with Esther explains more about her philosophy as a yoga teacher and why she supporting the international fundraiser.
You became a yoga teacher at 18 and you are the daughter of a Yoga teacher. How did you know so early in life that this was your purpose?
I didn’t know really. I wanted to be a dancer, but that was so competitive, I didn’t understand that world. Yoga however would let me work with the body as well, and yoga seemed to be about something else then the perfect execution of the “pose”, I felt that made more sense. I also realized yoga made me feel much better. So I chose yoga. I’ve always been grateful I did.
What made you decide to offer yoga classes online and what is your vision for being able to reach people internationally via YouTube, etc?
When I lived in Ireland I had a big waiting list for my yoga studio. I wanted to reach more people and came up with the idea to do that by offering free yoga via Youtube. So even if they couldn’t come to my classes they could still do yoga.
I also realized that living like I did (out in the country) meant that not everybody has access to a good yoga teacher. I really feel everybody who wants to should have access to yoga, it can help you so much!
There are alot of Yoga personalities in the media now that Yoga is more mainstream. How would you define the brand of Ekhart Yoga?
Ekhart Yoga is European to start with, most of the others are from the US. We are all about yoga for real people. It’s not so much about performance and about reaching a particular pose, but more about how we are doing yoga. Are we present, do we breathe? Yoga is a path to wake up, to wake up to who we truly are, to the reality. Instead of being lost all the time in the mind made world. We try to be real people ourselves as well, and accessible.
Is there anything that your students and fans can look forward to from Ekhart Yoga in the near future?
Of course lots. We keep developing all the time. We are working on getting people their own dashboard, for them to schedule, classes, to leave notes with their favorites, to build their own program. To be able to make Ekhart Yoga their own studio. We also have lots of stuff lined up for the summer, we are introducing people to a yogic diet, with all sorts of recipes and articles. We have a new Asthanga teacher, a core strength Vinyasa teacher coming soon, we are working on an app which is going to be amazing and of course we are always open for suggestions and growth. We realize we have to keep moving, to keep people interested!
What made you say “Yes” to being the Global Spokesperson for the Yoga and Pilatesthon fundraiser for Doctors Without Borders?
I obviously respect the organization a lot, and I think that whenever I have a chance to help out a good cause I should. My dad was a doctor, and he worked in Africa for years (where I was born) so it’s close to home as well.
How can those who donate to any of the Doctors Without Borders offices around the world, benefit from the special access online class from you?
Everybody who donates will get a special link to the free 60 min yoga class. It will be an all level class that will suit all bodies. Basically giving yourself this hour will make you feel better, in body and mind. The theme will be connectedness.
Do you see Yoga as a conduit for people to develop a deeper connection to their own purpose? Or are there other significant ways that you have noticed how yoga changes people for the better?
Yoga is amazing! No matter what your reason is for practicing, it will make you a happier and healthier human being. Yoga being taught well, gets you out of your head into the here and now. The mind calms down and you can experience the world beyond the mind. This is what makes you feel so good, reality!
How do you see the Yogathon as being a way to support a global humanitarian medical organization and the well-being of individuals one person at a time?
You are supporting the health of people on a global scale by supporting the MSF, why simultaneously supporting the health of the individual through the Yoga / Pilates classes. How cool is that :-)
Are you able to describe what the special online class is all about? The one that donors/participants in the Yoga fundraiser can look forward to for supporting the event.
I haven’t really prepared the class yet. As I already described above, there will be connectedness. I think that is also what you feel when you join in with this event. Yoga is about helping yourself get healthier, growing in a physical, mental and spiritual way. When you help out with this event you help giving another human being a chance to be healthier and happier. We are all in the end connected, made of the same life energy, and when that is felt you will want to help out others when you can.
Is there a particular vision that you have for Yoga that sets you apart? What is distinct about your teaching style and approach to cultivating a lifelong Yoga practice?
For me yoga is so much more than practicing the asana’s. It is all about becoming aware, and being able to see the difference between the world of the mind (illusion) and the world of reality. Asana’s are only but a very small part of that path. I hope my teaching reflects this. Yoga is something you may learn on the mat, but certainly it becomes more important what you do with it off the mat!
To learn more about Esther Ekhart and Ekhart Yoga, please visit the following links: