The YogaLife Institute/Yoga Institute of Mumbai Connection
You may often hear us refer to the Yoga Institute in India during the YogaLife class lectures, but how much do you really know about the rich Classical Yoga heritage that is behind the YogaLife classes and training programs? Did you know that the YogaLife Institute is the North American Headquarters of the 100 Yoga Centers program sponsored by The Yoga Institute of Mumbai, India? This prestigious designation connects us (and you) to a network of serious, authentic, traditional yoga practitioners throughout the ages and the world!
While the main branch of The Yoga Institute is in India, like the YogaLife Institute in the US, there are other centers inspired by the Yoga Institute’s approach in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Finland, France, Italy, Switzerland and the UK. Together they all work to carry on Shri Yogendra’s vision of bringing the practical applications of classical yoga philosophy and lifestyle practices into the hearts and minds of householders all over the world, guiding aspirants to acquire “a healthy body, a superior mind, and higher spiritual consciousness.”
Dr. Bob's Studies at the Yoga Institute
In 1989, Dr. Bob Butera trained daily at The Yoga Institute of Mumbai with his guru Dr. Jayadeva Yogendra. He lived at the Institute for six months doing intensive personal applications of yoga philosophy along with classical yoga and yoga therapy teacher training. He began teaching other people yoga while he was at the Yoga Institute of Mumbai and upon returning home he began teaching Classical Yoga philosophy and practices to householders in the United States. During this time he also completed a Ph.D. dissertation, A Comprehensive Yoga Lifestyle Program for People Living with HIV/AIDS. The program was modeled after the holistic programs from The Yoga Institute.
Bob’s first book, The Classical Yoga Study Guide (2002) was an outgrowth of his PhD work and envisioned as another way of galvanizing the Yoga Institute’s message of classical yoga made accessible for every man. It is still used as the main curriculum for the lectures in the daily YogaLife classes in Pennsylvania, Canada and New Hampshire. Bob’s second book, The Pure Heart of Yoga (2009) was also inspired by a project that he first took on at the Yoga Institute, and is a product of over 20 years of continued research in the US after his time there.
Similar to YogaLife’s Teacher Training and Meditation programs, The Comprehensive Yoga Therapy Teacher Training program that Dr. Bob is launching in Fall 2011 has been sanctioned by The Yoga Institute of Mumbai. This type of guidance and recognition from The Yoga Institute honors Dr. Bob’s commitment to the Classical Yoga mission and guides all of the YogaLife students who work and train towards understanding and sharing the message of Classical Yoga.
The Yoga Institute of Mumbai & The Legendary Yogendra Family
Shri Yogendra founded the Yoga Institute, Santacruz of Mumbai, India in 1918, the first Yoga Center open to the general public in the world. As a young college student Shri Yogendra became an ardent believer in Yoga when he met his guru Paramahamsa Madhavadasaj. From the beginning, he was a non-conformist and a very close bond developed between the Master and the student. The Guru taught him many things by direct experience. Usually their conversation centered on how to help others, sometimes how to handle a sick person therapeutically with the pragmatic and practical use of Yoga. Much was learned about healing of the body, mind, and spirit.
Shri Yogendra followed a different course than most of the students. As an only son, he had promised his widowed father he would marry and become a householder rather than remain celibate yogi. This promise paved the way for Shri Yogendra to spearhead the movement, Yoga for the Householder. This decision was revolutionary in the Yoga world, as up until that point, Yoga was traditionally taught only to an inner circle of gurus in monastic settings without wives and children.
With a broader vision of becoming a householder to propagate a universal message of Yoga, Shri Yogendra left the ashram on completion of his training with the mission of giving the benefits of Yoga to all instead of keeping it a secret for very few. Thus Shri Yogendra became known as the Father of Modern Yoga Renaissance and the yogi who would revive the Classical Yoga ideals across the world. In bringing Yoga to the modern householder, Shri Yogendra simplified asanas, kriyas, pranayama, and meditation. He looked at the techniques from a scientific standpoint and encouraged their practical application without reference to mysticism.
Shri Yogendra believed that many people came to Yoga for solutions to their health problems and could then be slowly guided on to deeper levels of spirituality. He insisted that Yoga was a way of life and removing obstacles in one’s personality would gradually lead people on to a better way of living. From the beginning his research focused on making Yoga intelligible to the common man. In that spirit, he wrote many books that addressed the common man’s need to be spoken to both logically and scientifically. These books were copied and distributed throughout India. During this period he also traveled and gathered authentic information on Yoga. His travels included meeting the Mathas of the Nathayogis and along with well-reputed saints and learned people of the country.
The vow taken to spend the life of a householder was fulfilled when he married Sita Devi on 29th September 1927. Although before marriage the young Sita Devi was never exposed to Yoga, together they worked hard to establish The Yoga Institute. At that time it was not the custom for women to practice Yoga but Mother Sita Devi joined her husband in his mission. Since then there has been a revolution and today many more women practice Yoga than men across the globe.
Shri Yogendraji passed away in 1989. His eldest son Dr. Jayadeva Yogendra took over Directorship of The Yoga Institute in 1985 and continues his teachings. Since then he has introduced several new courses and pioneered work in Yoga Education and Therapeutics. He has also written several books on Yoga education and is the editor of the Yoga Institute magazine, which is distributed worldwide. His wife and present Director of the Institute Smt. Hansaji is a well-known speaker who is known for her vibrant and lively talks. Her simple and practical approach and tips from the Yoga way of life are very accessible and deep. She is well known in India as an author and charismatic yoga expert from a popular television series called Yoga for Better Living.