Indra Devi

Last updated: December 21, 2023

What Does Indra Devi Mean?

Indra Devi (1899-2002) was a Russian-born yoga teacher who was known as the First Lady of Yoga. Born Eugenie V. Peterson, she was credited with helping to spread yoga worldwide. In 1947, she opened a yoga studio in Hollywood and attracted such celebrity students as Gloria Swanson, Greta Garbo, Eva Gabor and Yehudi Menuhin.

Devi was a disciple of the renowned Sri Krishnamacharya and the first Western woman to study at an ashram in India. She was also the first Westerner to teach yoga in India.


Yogapedia Explains Indra Devi

Indra Devi was the author of three books on yoga, including the best-selling "Forever Young, Forever Healthy" and "Renew Your Life by Practicing Yoga." Her yoga method was based on the writings of Patanjali and his Yoga Sutras. She incorporated pranayama, asana and diet into her practice.

She did not just share yoga around the world – she spread the practice among world leaders. In 1939, she conducted the first yoga class in China and opened a yoga school at the Shanghai home of Madame Chiang Kai-shek, wife of China's leader. In the 1960s, she convinced the communist Soviet leadership to legalize yoga.

In the mid-1960s, she became interested in the teachings of Satya Sai Baba, an Indian guru and philanthropist, and started calling her style of the practice Sai Yoga. Finally, in the 1980s, she formed a foundation in Argentina that operated six studios.

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