Mark Whitwell

Mark Whitwell is an internationally renowned Yoga Teacher who has a unique ability to make the empowering tradition of Yoga available to every kind of person as part of their everyday life. Mark’s simple mission is to bring the principles of practice that came through the ‘teacher of the teachers’ Tirumalai Krishnamacharya (1888-1989) into the mainstream of public life. He has taught Yoga around the world for over four decades.

Mark is the founder of the educational charity the Heart of Yoga Foundation and of the Heart of Yoga Peace Project—an organization which has brought relational technology of Yoga to conflict zones around the world.

He is the author of four books including Yoga of Heart (2004), the Hridaya Yoga Sutra (2004), The Promise (2016), and most recently God and Sex: Now We Get Both (2019). Mark was also the editor and contributor to his teacher T.K.V. Desikachar’s The Heart of Yoga (1995), a text that is celebrated on teacher trainings around the world as a “Bible of modern Yoga.”

Mark’s lifelong study of Yoga began in his early twenties when he travelled to India in search of something beyond what the usual life offered in Aotearoa/New Zealand. His commitment to teaching Yoga came after observing the gap between what he had learned in India and what he saw being taught in the US. 

In particular, Mark represents a collaboration between the Tantric Siddhas of Ganeshpuri, the Yoga of T. Krishnamacharya and his son T.K.V. Desikachar (1936-2016), with whom he studied with for over twenty years, and the friendship with U.G. Krishnamurti (1918-2007) who ensured that Yoga was not a struggle to get somewhere but participation in the Given Reality only. Mark seamlessly weaves together these influences to provide a Yoga education that is natural, empowering and complete.

Mark’s books and classes emphasise of Yoga integrated into our lives and relationships, not practiced in isolation. The theme of relationship and sexuality is directly addressed, and the role of Yoga in helping shift negative relational patterns. 

Teaching and education have always played a central part in Mark’s family life. His mother and father were both schoolteachers and his grandfather provided education programs in state prisons. At the core of Mark’s pedagogy is a refusal to set up hierarchies between himself and his students. Instead, Mark maintains that for any Yoga transmission to occur the relationship must be ordinary and non-hierarchical. The teacher is no more than a friend and no less, and the relationship between the teacher and the student is itself the heart of Yoga.  

Mark teaches at major Yoga locations around the world, including Esalen, Kripalu Institute, Bhakti and Shakti Festivals, Hong Kong and Shanghai Yoga Festivals, the Kumbh Mela, Omega Institute, 1440 San Francisco, and at Ram Dass’ retreats in Hawaii.

Mark currently resides between Aotearoa / New Zealand and Fiji where he continues to write, teach and host an annual “Teacher Untraining.” He has recently established the Heart of Yoga Studio: an online center for Yoga education that provides classes and workshops.

©2011 Mark Whitwell