Sitadevi’s Sutra

By Emily Miranker, Team Administrator/Project Coordinator

In 1934, Sitadevi Yogendra (1912–2008) published Yoga: Physical Education for Women, the first book on yoga for women by a woman.1 Married at age 15 to Shri Yogendraji, founder of The Yoga Institute in Mumbai, they became what Sitadevi described as “the first yogi couple.”2 Her book enjoyed three editions in less than 10 years and has been translated into several languages. It leads the reader through a course of exercises and postures specially geared towards women, recognizing that the prevailing techniques of the teachers of her day were “based upon the physiopsychic needs of Man.”3

First up in the routine are the corrective prayer poses. These instill proper posture in the body, something difficult to maintain under the “imposition of unnatural living under modern conditions”4— and this was before we slouched at computers all day and cramped our fingers with constant texting.

Figures 2 and 3 in, Yogendra, Yoga: Physical Education for Women,” 1947.

Figures 2 and 3 in Yogendra, Yoga: Physical Education for Women, 1947.

With your posture thus improved, the next poses maintain or even increase your height. The common triangle pose (trikonasana) is among those recommended. It’s a spine-stretching equilateral triangle shape in contrast to the flashier right-triangle that frequently adorns today’s Western fitness magazine covers.

Figure 7 in in Yogendra, Yoga: Physical Education for Women, 1947.

Figure 7 in in Yogendra, Yoga: Physical Education for Women, 1947.

Right triangle pose. Yoga.com. https://yoga.com/pose/right-triangle-pose Accessed April 28, 2016.

Right triangle pose. Yoga.com. Accessed April 28, 2016.

Sitadevi details exercises for the trunk to develop core strength and tone, and poses to keep the sex organs healthy. She considered it the “duty of every woman to safeguard her health”5 as the bearers of children. She concludes with poses for the spine, which she found good for the nervous system and mental equity (samatvam).

She provides a table of the entire sequence, which should take just 30 minute to run through. “When practiced with precision and regularity, the hygienic results of these exercises are sure to become manifest in a few months. This, in turn, would inspire the essential faith and enthusiasm for their continued practice throughout the lifetime.”6

Guidetable for a yoga sequence in Yogendra, Yoga: Physical Education for Women, 1947.

Guidetable for a yoga sequence in Yogendra, Yoga: Physical Education for Women, 1947.

Sitadevi’s book, along with other publications of The Yoga Institute, were microfilmed and included in the Crypt of Civilization,7 which isn’t a videogame but rather a time capsule housed at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, GA. Consider coming by our library to read up on Sitadevi and master her healthful poses to cultivate longevity so you’ll be around for the Crypt’s opening … in May of 8113.

References

1. “Mother Sita Devi Yogendra: A Brief Profile.” The Yoga Institute (May 29, 2013). Accessed May 3, 2016.

2. Mohanty, Sweta. “Fit to Lead.” DNA India (May 2007).Accessed April 28, 2016. http://www.dnaindia.com/lifestyle/grandeur-fit-to-lead-1099213

3. Yogendra, Sitadevi. Yoga: Physical Education for Women. Bombay: The Yoga Institute, 1947: 11.

4. Yogendra, Sitadevi. Yoga: Physical Education for Women. Bombay: The Yoga Institute, 1947: 27.

5. Yogendra, Sitadevi. Yoga: Physical Education for Women. Bombay: The Yoga Institute, 1947: 29.

6. Yogendra, Sitadevi. Yoga: Physical Education for Women. Bombay: The Yoga Institute, 1947: 127.

7. “Crypt of Civilization,” Oglethorpe University. Accessed April 28, 2016.  http://crypt.oglethorpe.edu/

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