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Caroline Westling

Teaching Faculty

Caroline Westling
Caroline started teaching and sharing yoga in Sweden in 2004, where yoga was not widely spread at the time. She ran a studio in Stockholm for five years until 2010 when her family expanded to three children. In addition to running a yoga school, Caroline has taught yoga in Swedish schools and prisons for many years. Her classes there were geared toward teaching students and prisoners to keep a daily yoga practice to increase self awareness as a means to increase nonviolent behavior. 

In 2006 she met her husband and teacher Ratheesh Mani and also started to assist him when he was traveling and teaching. Now she teaches in yoga studios but mainly holds international workshops and organises retreats with her husband.

“I grew up in Sweden and have always had a deep philosophical and spiritual interest in life. One reason is probably because as a kid I saw my Grandmother practice yoga. When I was 11 I told my mother that I wanted to go to India and as a teenager I started study Indian (Yogic) philosophy and around 20 started the physical practice of Yoga and decided that it was the path I was going to follow. 

At 19 I became a restaurant manager over two large hotels but I had a plan from young age to be a school teacher in philosophy, history and religion. To teach history to students so they would not repeat the same mistakes we did in the past, religion to respect and have tolerance for each other and philosophy to understand yourself, finding your own way and inner peace leading to a better world. 

I decided quite fast that I wanted to share yoga instead as it in a deeper way could effect people leading to the same vision. I started to teach in hotels and at spas before I opened up my own studio.

In 2003 I took my first teacher training in Ashtanga Yoga and in 2004 I studied in India with Sashikala Ananth, a student of Krishnamacharya  among others. It was not until I took Yoga Works Teacher Training with James Brown in 2006 that I completely fell in love with sequencing and proper alignment. I also have the privilege to study with Maty Ezraty.

To practice and share yoga is a great privilege which I truly honor and respect.”

I love Caroline’s yoga teachings. She has very well structured classes with beautiful sequences. I like in particular her restorative classes and her foundation classes with props. Her classes are clear, with easy to follow instructions. She emphasizes a safe practice with precise alignment and a beautiful connection to the breath. Caroline teaches from the heart with a deep understanding from her own experience, always with compassion and some humor.Franziska S

Caroline´s way of teaching is inspiring, clear and safe. She guides you in the practice to prepare your body in an intelligent way to help you to understand the main focus in the asana and the best shape of it with your own body. She definitely can read bodies! She is a “prop advocate” … in this way you can practice safely and develop. She shares all her knowledge, she doesn’t keep anything for herself.  Beside of the physical aspect of the practice, she is devoted to Yoga. She really understands its real meaning and transmits it. Her message goes beyond putting your leg behind your head. Her teaching and practice comes from a discipline, traditional manner full with experience and knowledge. She will support you to give the best of you and challenging you at the times. Belén VA

Caroline is one of my absolute favourite teachers. She has a great ability to set my body up for specific asanas. With props and fantastic guiding she makes advanced positions more available. It’s like she is communicating with my body instead of me and my head. In addition to her great understanding of energy in poses, she is so well rooted in the tradition and philosophy of yoga that I can really rest in her space and feel safe.Nenne A

Caroline is a very enthusiastic and well prepared instructor. You have no doubt about her passion for yoga – it’s her life. She  is a technically skilled instructor, she’s has “an eye on each finger”  – in her class you feel that you are seen. Her gift is that she has the ability to always make you feel safe and well taken care of.Mona D


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    James Brown

    Lead Teacher

    James Brown Headshot


    By teaching precise asana technique, fluency in biomechanics, and the practical application of the Yoga Sutras, James presents asana as a way to make a happier life.

    James started teaching in Washington, DC in 1996, where he was American University’s first Adjunct Professor of Yoga and the private teacher to the family of Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore while he was Vice President of the United States.

    In 2001 he started teaching at YogaWorks’ original Montana Avenue studio under the close mentorship of Maty Ezraty. James helped developed YogaWorks’ acclaimed teacher training curriculum, which he then introduced in foreign markets. He was YogaWorks’ Director of Yoga Content until December 2012 and is the founder of American Yoga School.

    In 2015, James published Words About Now: The Yoga Sutras for the Modern Practitioner and The Asana Guide for Yoga Teachers 2015, both available in the iBookstore.

    A miracle workerW Magazine
    The best yoga teacher in the world.Flea, The Red Hot Chili Peppers
    A master of Ashtanga yoga … a guru for now Rolling Stone
    2014-07-11 at 11-47-35 (1)

    At YogaWorks Center for Yoga in Los Angeles. 2012

    “I grew up in southern Maryland on the Chesapeake Bay in a big family with mostly girls. I started teaching while enlisted in the US Navy and loved it. I taught computing theory, not yoga- but I learned things about teaching (from the US Navy’s excellent Instructor Training School) that I still put to use every time I teach. After the Navy, I owned a maid service, ran a talent agency, ran a dance club and produced and promoted nightclub events before taking my first yoga class in my mid-20’s and finding something that stuck.

    James Brown at Results the Gym, Washington, DC. 1998

    At Results the Gym, Washington, DC. 1998

    For the first three years that I taught yoga, I also had a job walking dogs. I didn’t plan it that way but, in hindsight, it was a great combo because the dog walking paid well enough and had a flexible enough schedule that I could learn to teach yoga without the pressure of expecting to pay all my bills with it. I started teaching full time in 1998 and kept at it until 2013.

    With Tipper Gore in 2000

    With Tipper Gore in 2000

    At first I taught a lot of group classes and somehow a lot of famous people, which was interesting. When I toured teaching The Red Hot Chili Peppers in 2000, they brought me to Los Angeles a lot. That was where I started to learn about my teacher, Maty, and when I met her, we connected right away. That is when I really started to study and practice a lot more seriously. After a few visits to LA with the band, and also for the 2000 Democratic Presidential Convention teaching the family of the candidate, I moved to LA permanently in 2001 after the election didn’t go my way.

    I mentored with Maty starting right away, and I worked closely with her until she left YogaWorks and continue to learn from her. The practice I do and teach was learned almost entirely from her over years of intense close instruction and mentorship. In 2003, I assisted a teacher training that Maty was teaching and it was there that I felt like I really found my calling. I am fascinated by teaching! After that, Maty got me started as a teacher trainer.

    Over the next 10 years, I taught about 24 YogaWorks teacher trainings and introduced their teacher training, now the world’s largest program, to other parts of North America, and to Asia and Australia. All that traveling around teaching yoga to different cultures showed me that we hadn’t quite yet figured out how to articulate the universals of yoga practice to audiences outside of the insular Southern California yoga culture. It became my burning need to remedy that and I wasn’t able to do it with a big pre-existing company like YogaWorks- so I started my own teacher training company in 2008.

    And here we are.

    Instead of teaching you what to say, I try to teach you everything you need to know so that you can make your own decisions. I don’t think that you are any less capable of handling that information, once you have it, than I am. So I treat my students like grown-ups and give them the tools they need to work creatively and effectively. The method I teach is to be independent and smart. Then you can decide what to do when you teach; and how and when to communicate it to students.

    I lived in Los Angeles from 2001 until December, 2015. Now my home base is where I grew up, close to my family in Calvert County, Maryland- a wooded and hilly peninsula between the Patuxent River and the Chesapeake Bay that still looks a lot like it did when the War of 1812 was fought and won here. I live in a log cabin with my two dogs, both of whom are named for the same person.”

    James Brown 2009


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    Stacey Shea

    Teaching Faculty

    Stacey Shea HeadshotStacey came to teaching yoga in 2002, after 12 years as a professional dancer in Las Vegas. She started out teaching fellow performers and other curious people what she had learned about how yoga can help alleviate pain in the body, as it had done for her.

    In 2008 she opened Bikram Yoga Green Valley in Henderson, Nevada, just outside of Las Vegas. Over the next 8 years, BYGV grew to support and guide the practices of tens of thousands of students; as Stacey hired, educated and mentored the teaching faculty there.

    As the business of yoga shifted toward the competitive industry that it is today, Stacey’s focus started to shift away from running a studio and toward that aspect of running a studio that she so loves, and for which she has so much to offer: educating and mentoring aspiring new teachers. And in 2015, Bikram Yoga Green Valley closed its doors.

    American Yoga School is delighted to include Stacey Shea as a member of our Teaching Faculty.

    Stacey’s personal commitment to developing leaders marks the significant difference between herself and what other teachers have on offer. Knowing I had Stacey cheering me on during my first few months of professional teaching made all the difference in staying the course. Always one to celebrate every success and help me negotiate every learning opportunity. Stacey Shea is a constant inspiration for me to continue, grow, adapt and evolve. David S
    Stacey challenges you to hold yourself up to your highest standard, to be a lifelong learner (just like her!), to respect your students, and to be the very best version of yourself you can be. Julie H
    Stacey created an environment that made it possible for me to develop my individuality as a teacher. She has always encouraged me to let my personality shine, letting me know that was what would make me great.N’Zinza W

    I grew up among the rolling hills of the Northern California wine country with my mother, sister and Chinese immigrant grandparents.  My mother remarried Stacey Shea, American Yoga School Teaching Facultyand we moved to the San Francisco Bay Area.  I was shocked, moving from a small town with a population of 800 to big suburbia.  Finding it difficult to fit in and express myself in my new surroundings, I connected with my feelings through movement; roller skating, ballet and jazz dancing, running and lifting weights, and finally, yoga.

    Over the years, I worked in fashion retail, managed fast food restaurants, taught group fitness classes, danced as a performing artist in production shows around the world, and am still an ambassador/spokesmodel for the City of Las Vegas.

    During my 15 year career as a professional dancer, I suffered from a debilitating spinal injury, an 11mm. herniated disk between my lower lumber vertebrate L4 & L5.  I was crippled for 6-months, but managed to heal myself non-surgically through spinal decompression and yoga.  While suffering in severe pain, thoughts of never healing and ending my life crossed my mind.  Yoga gave me my life back.  Yoga gave me a second chance.  Not only did it heal me physically, yoga also gave me the tools to reorganize my mindset and bring back a sense of optimism.  It became my duty and calling to share this yoga magic with as many people as possible.

    In the early 2000’s, yoga in Las Vegas was still in its infant stages.  I traveled to California regularly for yoga trainings and to find more teachers to study with.  After completing three teacher trainings and healing my own spine, I opened Bikram Yoga Green Valley in 2008.  I continue my travels to learn from teachers near and far.

    Stacey Shea, American Yoga School Teaching Faculty

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