The First Lady Of Yoga, Indra Devi

Dear Yogis

We hear so much about the original yoga teachers of our time, Pattabhi Jois, BKS Iyengar, infamous Bikram Choudhury and Sivananda. In this male world, very little attention is given to Indra Devi who was a fellow student of Jois and Iyengar under the strict, famously unforgiving teachings of Krishnamacharya.

At first Krishnamacharya refused to teach Devi on the grounds she was a woman and a Westerner.   This is how Kino MacGregor describes their teacher-student relationship: He “set up numerous tests for her… assuming she would fail. First, he asked her to eat only root vegetables for months. Next, he asked her to sit outside his gate for two hours each morning from 4-6 AM and then go home with or without teaching”. That was in the 1930s. She was an actress and a socialite and this is not the kind of treatment she would have been used to! She overcame all obstacles and ended up teaching in China, India, Mexico, Russia, the US and Argentina and her first book was of the yoga that came directly from Krishnamacharya. She is the First Lady of Yoga, despite the relative silence that surrounds her name.

The only hoops we have to jump through are of our own making. Perhaps it would be easier if a teacher set up ghastly tasks. Here’s a lovely quote from Devi: "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."

Kapsali Yoga Retreat

I’ll be in Kapsali next weekend, my favourite part of the world. I’ll be teaching the Allcomers String Orchestra and sorting out some September Retreat details. There are still places if you’re interested in coming. Next week’s Friday Yoga Email might be late! I’ll be practicing Ashtanga with Kristina Karitinou from Friday morning.

Home Studio

I was incredibly happy to see yogis in the studio that I haven’t seen in years. New yogis and past yogis come along perhaps for the physical practice and perhaps for the mental respite. Guess what! You get both!  To come to my Home Studio you can see what’s available here. (I update this before posting this email.)  You can book here. Next week I will have two classes on Bank Holiday Monday  and two on Tuesday but none on Wednesday and Thursday. Please don’t forget to let me know if you are observing Ramadan and need a calmer practice.


While I’m away try other teachers in the area. Cath Barnes-Holt is an Iyengar teacher at Triyoga Ealing and also teaches in West Ealing and Northfields.  Ladan Soltani has classes in Ealing Town Hall and West Ealing.

Yoga in the news

This article in The Guardian by Zoe Williams started with: ‘More things than I realised have their roots in yoga, because yoga is at the root of all things’ and ended with: ‘In a situation where you have to choose, always prioritise a straight back over straight hamstrings’. That’s pretty much all you need to know!

The Metro tells us that ‘Dog yoga classes are coming to London and you don’t even need a dog’. ‘If you’re bringing your own hound, just make sure they’re social, vaccinated neutered and insured’.