The Yoga Institute, Santacruz (East), Mumbai, India, was founded in 1918 by Shri Yogendraji, and is the oldest yoga school in the world. Shri Yogendraji believed that yoga was not exclusively intended for bearded men who lived in the mountains, and wanted to bring it home – to men and women who have to work, travel, earn a living, raise children, and struggle in life, everyday. He wanted to take it to the people who come from the village and the city, as he believed that the whole family is capable of benefiting from this knowledge. Little wonder then that Shri Yogendra is known as the Father of the Modern Yoga Renaissance.
Although most people wanted to learn yoga just to address their physical problems, Shri Yogendra wanted The Yoga Institute to be more than a place to overcome physical ailments; he wanted it to be a school of life where one learns to live. The Yoga Institute, with its simplicity, sincerity and non-commercial perspective, reaches out to homes and tries to help them lead happy, healthy and balanced lives in a world that is constantly presenting challenges.
Spearheading the Yoga for the Family movement around the world, the Institute interacts with more than two thousand people every day for training, health benefits and consultation. It also offers yoga training courses and publishes books on yoga therapy, asanas, pranayama, couples counseling, traditional scriptures, and a variety of other yogic education subjects.
Shri Yogendraji’s son, Dr. Jayadeva Yogendra, who recently passed away, was a sincere and committed torchbearer of the founder’s legacy. His spirit continues to guide us through Guru Smt. Hansaji Jayadeva Yogendra, known throughout the world, and today director of The Yoga Institute, who also serves as president of the International Board of Yoga.
Is there a school of life where one learns to live? There are many schools that teach people to get 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 school of life teaches us to care and share, it teaches us discipline and responsibility, it teaches us the other things that matter in life instead of displaying its extensive gardens and grand structures as most campuses do these days.
The Yoga Institute is one of those schools of life. Everything here, including interpersonal relationships in the classrooms and also in our administrative offices, is infused with the sweet fragrance of spiritual awareness. Whether the student is learning asanas or yoga sutras, it all adds to the pure and sattvic experience. Techniques are also taught, but these become secondary as there is a change at the deepest level of the student’s values, motivations, attitudes and habits. This is how the yogic life helps to restore the homeostatic balance, and the treatment of the disease becomes a natural consequence of the healthy life.
Connecting to a higher consciousness and cultivating a broader philosophical perspective can instill a positive approach to life and neutralize the anxiety responsible for many psychosomatic and neurotic conditions. It allows full participation in existence, it imparts meaning to life. A school of life prepares men and women to live a more fulfilling life. Besides learning it themselves, they also learn to share it with others. Can we dream of such learning centers in this country? It doesn’t matter if we call this school of life The Yoga Institute or by any other name. Today there is an overwhelming need for such schools of life in society. What is lacking is not the skills or knowledge necessary to build such a school, but the actual life models of that school. The Yoga Institute seeks to fill this void.
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