THE LADY OF YOGA: INDRA DEVI AND HER LEGACY!
For over 60 years, Indra Devi was Yoga’s most prominent female force. She pursued the practice of Yoga in an era when women were normally not accepted as students. Of European descent, she not only brought Yoga to her native Russia, she taught Yoga to the Hindus themselves. In America she taught Yoga to celebrities. Even after she reached the very advanced age of 100, she continued a yoga practice which included Ardha Sirsasana, Janu Sirsasana, Ardha Matsyendrasana and, of course, Padmasana. Indra Devi’s followers called her Mataji, a rare and well-deserved honour for a woman who exemplified Yoga’s principles with her love, light, and a liveliness that lasted nearly all of her 102 years.
The woman who would become Indra Devi was born Eugenie Peterson on May 12, 1899, in Riga, Russia. Her father was Swedish and her mother was a member of the Russian nobility. Although Eugenie had been drawn to India’s spiritual ways at a very young age, she first pursued a career with the theater. In 1920, while Russia was still in the midst of revolution, Eugenie and her mother relocated to Germany. She became part of a renowned Russian theatrical troupe that toured all over Europe. It was during this period of her life that she met Jiddu Krishnamurti.
Finally, in 1927, Eugenie was able to visit her beloved India for the first time. She wound up living there for 12 years, during which she married a Czechoslovakian diplomat, became an movie star in Indian films and befriended Jawaharlal Nehru. In 1937 she became a student of Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, a Yoga master whose other students included a couple of kids named B.K.S. Iyengar, K. Pattabhi Jois and his son T.K. Desikashar . After a year Krishnamacharya urged Eugenie to teach, and when her husband relocated to Shanghai in 1939, she opened her first school of Yoga.
After the end of World War II, Indra Devi continued studying Yoga in the Himalayas and after the death of her husband, her travels took her to the United States. She founded a Yoga studio in Hollywood where she taught stars of the day such as Gloria Swanson, Jennifer Jones, Ramon Novarro and Olivia de Haviland. In 1953 she married a renowned doctor and humanitarian, Sigfrid Knauer and continued spreading Yoga throughout the United States and Mexico via conferences, radio and television.
For the next several decades, Indra Devi took Yoga worldwide. She went to the Soviet Union in 1960 and became known as “the woman who brought Yoga to the Kremlin.” She conducted a meditation in Viet Nam in 1966 and traveled frequently to India. In 1985 she moved to Argentina, where she set up the Indra Devi Foundation (the URL of its website, which is in Spanish, is http://fundacion-indra-devi.org/). She spread Yoga throughout South America, along with holding seminars and classes in the U.S. and Europe. Over the years she has published a number of books, including Forever Young, Forever Healthy, Yoga for Americans (which has a forward by Gloria Swanson), and Yoga, the Technique of Health and Happiness.
Indra Devi practiced all that she taught, and as a result she remained active and vital well into her 90s, and even after she passed the century mark, her energy was amazing. After 102 remarkable years, however, it was time for her to move on. Indra Devi viewed death as fearlessly as she lived her life, and the world she left is very much richer for the gift of her presence.In the 1960s and 70s, Indra Devi was very much a presence in Los Angeles and Mexico, and was very close to Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Traveling from LA (and her retreat in Mexico) to Bangalore and Puttaparthi, she was greatly honored by Him.
In 1982 she moved to Argentina. In 1987 she was elected President of honor of the International Yoga Federation http://www.internationalyogafederation.net/ (former International Yoga Teachers Federation) and Latin American Union of Yoga under the Presidenceship of Swami Maitreyananda in Montevideo, Uruguay. She died in Buenos Aires.
Yogacharya Dr Fernando Estevez Griego (Swami Maitreyananda Dharmachari) direct disciple of Swami Vishnu-Devananda- Yogacharya Master Fernando Estevez Griego studied with him at the Sivananda Ashram in the Bahamas, Canada and United States).
Swamini Lakshmi (Yogacharini Eugenia Salas) six-time winner of the World Yoga Championship www.worldyogachampionship.com in Artistic Yoga Pair and Rhythmic Yoga Pair, disciple of Swami Maitreyananda creator of Artistic Yoga ®. She is director of International Yoga School of Aurobindo Sivananda Ashram. President of the International Federation of Yoga Sports 2010 – 2014
The International Yoga Federation is a non-profit tax-exempt organization founded in 1987, it is the largest yoga organization in the world and is open to all yogis and yoga organizations. IYF supports the minimum international standards for yoga teachers from 1987. Below is the honourable Swamini Gauri.
Marisa Cheloni -Swamini Gauri is the world-wide President of International Yoga Federation (2012-2016)
Iyengar, the Father of Modern Yoga
B.K.S. Iyengar has systematised over 200 classical yoga poses and 14 different types of Pranayama (with variations of many of them) ranging from the basic to advanced. This helps ensure that students progress gradually by moving from simple poses to more complex ones and develop their mind, body and spirit step-by-step.
Acharya Sri T.K. Sribhashyam
Sri T.K. Sribhashyam, the third son of Sri T. Krishnamacharya, was born in Mysore in 1940. He obtained his Master’s Degree in Accountancy as well as in Hindu philosophy in Chennai. Right from his childhood Sri T. Krishnamacharya initiated him to Yajur Veda and taught him in the traditional way all major Upanishads, Brahma Sūtra and Bhagavad Gīta. Sri T. Krishnamacharya trained him in Yoga practice and teaching. Apart from this, he also received intensive lessons on Yoga Philosophy and Indian Psychology. Āyurveda, the Indian Medical Science, was another subject of study under his father.