The Yoga Institute was founded on 25th December, 1918 by the Founder Shri Yogendraji. It found a permanent base in Santacruz, Mumbai, in 1948. Spread over one acre of land amidst nature, with three buildings dedicated to Yogic activities, this non-profit organization has been running on its own strength for 9 decades now. About 2000 persons visit the Institute every day for training, and health consultations.
His Holiness Paramhamsa Madhavadasji was born in 1798 to a Mukhopadhyaya family in Bengal. His childhood surroundings and parental influences inspired in him a devotional attitude and faith. At the tender age of 23 he left his home in search of higher pursuits whilst working as a lawyer in the courts during the British rule. His early association with Bhakti rituals could not satisfy the reformist concepts he was looking for so he learnt different traditions and after going around Assam, Tibet, Himalayas etc. he got an opportunity to get first-hand knowledge of technical yoga.
In 1916, at the age of 118, Paramhamsa Madhavadasji was in Mumbai at Madhavbaug for a discourse where he met Yogendraji (then known as Mani). Since then, a strong bond developed between the teacher and student and he personally guided and trained Mani on the path of yoga.
Shri Yogendraji was born as Mani Haribhai Desai in 1897 in Gujarat. Through a chance meeting, he found his Guru, Shri Paramhamsa Madhavadasji and learnt all about yoga from him. With the blessings of his Guru, Yogendraji went on to spread the then secret knowledge of yoga among the masses as he felt yoga could help improve the lives of householders.
He founded The Yoga Institute at ‘The Sands’, the residence of Dadabhai Naoroji in Versova in 1918. There, he cured many people from various ailments through therapeutic yoga. Following this, he travelled to America and founded a Yoga Institute in Harriman, New York in 1920. Much research work was done on the subtle physiological and psychological effects of yoga along with scientists and doctors.
Shri Yogendraji then returned to India and following the wishes of his father, married and remained a Householder Yogi. He has written many authoritative texts on yoga based on ancient scriptures. Some of his books are even preserved in the Crypt of Civilization for posterity, to be opened after 6000 years. Along with his wife, Sitadevi Yogendra, he continued to teach and spread the awareness of authentic classical yoga at The Yoga Institute, Santacruz until his death in 1989.
Smt. Sitadevi Yogendra, fondly known as Mother, married Shri Yogendraji in 1927 and joined him in his mission of spreading the knowledge of yoga in the world. She began teaching women and children at The Yoga Institute and has written many articles and books on the subject. Her book Yoga Physical Education for Women is also preserved in the Crypt of Civilization, to be opened 6000 years later. Mother Sitadevi passed away in 2008 at the age of 97.
Born in 1929, Shri Yogendraji’s son, Dr. Jayadeva Yogendra, is a simple man and a true Yogi. Having seen his complete dedication to a life of discipline and simplicity, the Sadhakas of the Institute consider him as their true Guru. Being born in a family of Yogis, he had a spiritual inclination since childhood. Today, as the President of The Yoga Institute, he continues to carry on the Founder’s legacy in his silent and sincere way. He is also the Editor of the Institute’s monthly Journal, “Yoga & Total Health” published since 1933. Dr. Jayadeva completed his Masters in Samkhya and Yoga at the Bombay University in 1952. In 1955, he was awarded the Hargobindas scholarship for a Ph.D (Dr. of Philosophy) for his thesis on Moksha Parvan. At the Institute, he has introduced several courses, pioneering work in Yoga Education and Therapeutics. Students at the Institute continue to draw constant inspiration from his wisdom, compassion, wit and unflinching commitment to truth.
A dynamic and charismatic personality, Smt. Hansaji, wife of Dr. Jayadeva Yogendra and present Director of The Yoga Institute, has dedicated her life to the running of the Institute and to teaching yoga as a way of life in a completely practical way. Smt. Hansaji Jayadeva has been selected as “Woman of the Year 2000” by the American Biographical Institute, U.S.A. for her outstanding accomplishment and the noble example she has set for her peers and entire community. She is perhaps best known throughout the nation due to her involvement in the popular television series ’Yoga for Better Living’, first aired in 1980.
She was recognized for her contribution to Women’s Health through the award presented by SPARC. She has conducted several seminars and lecture tours in India and in Europe, Australia, Canada, Pakistan, Hong Kong and United States of America. She has also authored many Yoga books and articles. She was invited by the National Council for Education Research and Training along with Dr. Jayadeva to advise on formulating a Yoga education syllabus for schools nationwide.