The first female yoga Guru, opening the path of yoga for women
It is highly appropriate that Smt. Sita Devi Yogendra was affectionately addressed simply as “Mother” by all who met her, since the word has been time-hallowed as signifying the best, most dignified example of a life of love, care and self-sacrifice for the sake of husband and children, and also the whole community.
Mother started contributing articles to the journal Yoga from its very inception and continued to contribute articles to The Journal of The Yoga Institute and Classic Yoga International.
She began teaching women and children at the institute and has written many articles and books on the subject over the years.
In the 1934 edition of 'Yoga & Total Health Magazine', Smt. Sita Devi's article 'Yoga for Woman' was published. Her views are succinctly expressed there:
Though fostered in an atmosphere of sex prejudice, Yoga with its universal outlook refused admission to none. Yoga may therefore be practiced both by males as well as females. The yoga authorities go so far as to state that even a prostitute can attain the highest objective of life by following the course of practical Yoga. Thus, Practical Yoga removed the bar against women. Though the yogic authorities are clear on this issue, many ashramas and institutions expected to teach yoga, refuse admission to females and married men. That this should have happened in the twentieth century is really surprising!
...as there are certain constitutional differences, both physiological and psychological, between man and woman, it is essential that preference be given to those yogic practices which fulfill her special requirements. There are certain yogic exercises which are more suited to physical and mental needs of a woman than other practices. From my own experience of the past eight years, I have been able to select and formulate a graduated course of practical training which is applicable particularly to the growing needs of the modern woman.
Her first work appeared under the title Easy Postures for Women which went through various editions. This was thoroughly revised later and then was presented in a new edition, Yoga Physical Education for Women.
Yoga Physical Education for Women has been hailed the world over as the first authoritative book on yoga for women written by a woman. It has been translated in several languages.
This book is also preserved in the Crypt of Civilization.
"The family I came into was very simple. There was barely any furniture. The utensils were also very few and food grains were kept in little packets. The food that was made was also very simple – only vegetable and chapatti and the same vegetable and chappattis were kept for the evening to as there was no time as everyone was so busy running the Institute," Smt. Hansaji, daughter-in-law to Mother Sita Devi, nostalgically shared.
Mother Sitadevi passed away in 2008 at the age of 97.
In her honour, The Yoga Institute celebrated the 103rd Birth Anniversary of Mother Sita Devi, in a special function on Sunday, 1st June 2014. Dr. Jayadeva Yogendra, her son, shared, "Today I am what I am because of her bringing me up in an excellent manner. I give all the credit to her. I have seen her doing various duties at the Institute, teaching the ladies and handling all the detailed work very sincerely and with a great deal of devotion.”