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 100 years 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 environment and his parental influences inspired in him a devotional attitude and faith. A lawyer in the courts during the British Raj, he left his home at the tender age of 23 in search of higher pursuits. His early association with Bhakti rituals could not satisfy the reformist concepts he was looking for. He learnt from different traditions and after traveling in Assam, Tibet, the Himalayas, etc., he was able to get a 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). 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 what was then considered the secret knowledge of yoga among the masses, as he believed it could improve the lives of householders.
He founded The Yoga Institute at ‘The Sands’, the residence of Dadabhai Naoroji in Versova, in 1918. At The Sands, he used therapeutic yoga to cure various ailments. Later, he traveled to America and founded a Yoga Institute in Harriman, New York, in 1920. A lot of research work, along with doctors and scientists of repute, was carried out under his guidance on the subtle physiological and psychological effects of yoga.
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 preserved in the Crypt of Civilization for posterity; they are to be opened after 6000 years. Along with his wife, Sitadevi Yogendra, he continued to teach and spread 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, was a simple man and a true Yogi. Having seen his complete dedication to a life of discipline and simplicity, the sadhakas of the Institute considered him as their true Guru. Born in a family of Yogis, he was spiritually inclined since childhood. Until February 2018, when he passed away, as President of The Yoga Institute, he carried on the Founder’s legacy in his silent and sincere way. He was 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 introduced several courses, and did pioneering work in Yoga Education and Therapeutics. Students at the Institute still continue to draw 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. 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.