Indra Devi


By Helen Kitti Smith  |  

Indra Devi, or Mataji, was often called “The First Lady of Yoga.” In 1937, Krishnamacharya admitted her into his school—making her the first woman chela (pupil) and the first Western woman ever at an Indian ashram—and personally supervised her asana and Pranayama training. Towards the end of the year he told her that she must teach.

From the 1930s until her death in 2002, she was instrumental in the global diffusion of yoga, teaching in China, India, Mexico, Russia, and the United States. In 1982, Devi was invited by a group of Sai Baba devotees to teach in Argentina and did so for 15 years.

Today, Fundacion Indra Devi, whose six studios are scattered throughout greater Buenos Aires, has seen some 25,000 students pass through its doors. The IVth National Yoga Convention May 13-14, 2000, coincided with Mataji’s 101st birthday. “You give love and light to everybody—those who love you, those who harm you, those whom you know, those whom you don’t know. It makes no difference. You just give light and love,” said this yoga luminary whose practice toward the end of her life consisted only of Padmasana, Janu Sirsasana, Ardha Sirsasana, and Ardha Matsyendrasana, but whose light has shined on the whole world.