The Yoga Institute, Santacruz (East), Mumbai, India was founded in 1918 by Shri Yogendraji, and is the oldest centre of yoga in the world. Shri Yogendraji believed that yoga was not meant exclusively for bearded men living in the mountains, and he wanted to bring it to householders—the men and women who have to work, toil, commute, earn a living, raise children, and fight the battle of life everyday. He wanted to bring it to people living in the town and the city, because he believed that the householder could benefit immensely from this knowledge. Little surprise then that Shri Yogendra is known as the Father of Modern Yoga Renaissance.
Although most people wished to learn yoga only to address their physical problems, Shri Yogendra wanted the Yoga Institute to be more than a place that would help them cope with physical ailments. He wanted it to be a `Life School’ where one learnt to live. The Yoga Institute, with its simplicity, sincerity, and non-commercial outlook, reaches out to householders and attempts to help them lead happy, healthy, and balanced lives in a world that is constantly throwing up challenges.
Spearheading the “Yoga for the Householder” movement in the world, the Institute interacts with over a thousand people everyday for training, health benefits and consultations. It also offers Yoga teacher-training courses, and brings out books on yoga therapy, asanas, pranayam, couples counseling, traditional scriptures, ethics for everyday life, and a variety of other subjects on yoga education.
Shri Yogendraji’s son, Dr. Jayadeva Yogendra, who passed away recently, was a sincere and committed torch-bearer of the founder’s legacy. His spirit continues to guide us. Yog Guru, Smt. Hansaji Jayadeva Yogendra, well-known all over the world, is now the Director of The Yoga Institute and also serves as President of The International Board of Yoga.
Is there a life-school where one learns to live? There are many schools that teach people to chase money and power, but no school teaches us to be happy and healthy, no institute teaches us to be balanced in mind, body, and spirit. A life-school teaches us to care and share, it teaches us discipline and responsibility, it teaches us the other things that matter in life instead of showing off its sprawling lawns and high-rise structures as most campuses do these days.
The Yoga Institute is one such life-school. Everything here–including interpersonal relationships in classrooms and also in our administrative offices–is imbued with the sweet fragrance of spiritual awareness. Whether the student is learning asanas or the yoga sutras, it only adds to the pure, sattvik experience. Techniques are also taught, but they become secondary when change is occurring at the deeper level of one’s values, motivations, attitudes, and habits. Yogic living can help re-establish the homeostatic balance, and treatment of disease then becomes a natural consequence of a yogic life.
Faith in a higher reality and a broader, philosophical outlook can instill a positive approach to life, and neutralize the anxiety responsible for many psychosomatic and neurotic conditions. It enables total and joyful participation in life, it imparts meaning to life. A life-school prepares men and women to live fuller lives. Besides learning it themselves, they also learn to share it with others. Can we dream of such centers of learning in the country? It does not matter if we call this life-school “The Yoga Institute” or by any other name. There is an overwhelming need today for such life-schools in society. What is lacking is not the skills or knowledge required to build such a school, but actual living models of such a school. The Yoga Institute seeks to fill this vacuum.