This is the world’s oldest yoga centre

No one knows exactly how old yoga is. I’ve recently seen images of wall paintings showing Egyptians in poses that look strangely similar to upward bow, dating back to 1180 B.C. There are even images of Egyptian ladies performing what we would call “drop backs”, pictured in Vanda Scaravelli’s book ‘Awakening the Spine’. I mean, come on, isn’t this crazy?

In any case, during most of yoga’s history the knowledge would be transmitted from teacher to student in one-on-one sessions. And while all this remains murky ground, we can pinpoint one date: The opening of the world’s first yoga centre! Unsurprisingly, it’s located in India, still going strong, and yes, in case you’re wondering – the centre is also on Facebook and Twitter.

Classes at the Yoga Institute

Classes at the Yoga Institute

THE YOGA INSTITUTE in Mumbai has been established in 1918 which makes it the oldest running yoga centre globally. Its founder, Shri Yogendraji (born as Mani Haribhai Desai in 1897 in Gujarat) embarked on spreading the (then secret) knowledge of yoga among the masses as he felt yoga could “help improve the lives of householders”; he dedicated his life to curing people from their ailments through therapeutic yoga.

Medical research at the Yoga Institute

Medical research at the Yoga Institute

Today, the centre welcomes on average about 1.000 students a day who attend the extensive programme: Apart from asana classes there’s a book club, discussions on better living, satsangs, health check ups, health camps, and the centre runs its own Yoga Teacher Training Courses, with students being able to pick from programmes lasting one month to one year. It also organises corporate workshops and yoga camps for children.

The yoga museum

The yoga museum

Another attraction is the ‘Museum of Yoga’ the centre has put together, and now, listen to this:

“The Yoga Museum aims to show Yoga as a way of life – not as sports or physical culture. It also provides a guideline for all interested in studying authentic Yoga. It is necessary to present a sane and balanced view of Yoga which is such a dire necessity amidst the confusion that has spawned in Yoga activities in India specially and abroad.”

If you fancy going, the centre today is welcoming students from all over the world – they even offer hostel facilities. You can find them online here, follow on Twitter here, and ‘like’ them on Facebook here.

Definitely on the list of places to check out during my next India trip!

~ Andrea

The Yoga Institute today

Categories: Travel, Yoga

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10 replies »

  1. It would have been a wonderful place were it not for its location near the airport – I certainly was NOT yogic enough to tolerate the constant noise of planes landing/departing!


  2. Namaste Andrea! Amazing post, thank you for sharing. I love all aspects of Yoga and learn something new every day. Have been wanting to go to India for a while. I hope to be there soon. Do you know when you are taking your next trip to India? Maybe we could meet there.

    Thank you for stopping by the Blue Petal Yoga blog, grateful for the like! Have a beautiful day! Peace, love, light. Tammy


  3. Would love to go there! I can’t even imagine what fine physical and spiritual shape I’d be in if I stayed for a year…


  4. Ah yes, just what we need: an organisation promoting sanity in yoga 🙂 Every now and then I tune into the outside world of hybrid yoga, yoga competitions and yoga fashion – and then i quickly tune back out 🙂


  5. Yoga at the least goes back to 3000 BC when Lord Krishna spoke the Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna. Every chapter’s title ends with the word Yoga (Arjuna Vishaka Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, karma yoga….). Krishna even goes on to talk about AshTAnga yoga and mentions how to sit, where to sit, how high the seat should be, how to concentrate on the tip of the nose, and so on. So, at the least 5000 years old (but Krishna also says that this knowledge existed *always* 🙂 )


    • Yoga has allegedly existed for 5000 years but there is no historical proof of that.

      The Baghavad Gita can’t be taken as historically accurate, no more than the Bible for instance, as they rely on someone subjectively writing down what has been most likely oral traditions passed down from generation to generation


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