March 8 is International Women’s Day! To celebrate, we’re taking a look at women who have made a difference in the yoga world, and who helped pave the way for women to practice and teach yoga, and operate yoga-related businesses, today.
Blanche Devries learned yoga from – and married – Pierre Bernard, a well-known but controversial yoga teacher. Bernard eventually put Devries in charge of his Yoga School for Women.
In 1938, Devries opened the first female-owned yoga studio in the United States. She taught at her studio, in New York, until 1982. Devries passed away two years later, just before her 93rd birthday. During her life she was known for teaching high-profile, famous students in her classes.
Indra Devi was born Eugenie Peterson in Latvia in 1899. Today she is known as the “first lady of yoga.” Devi was the first female student of well-known yoga teacher Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, who is considered the father of modern yoga.
Devi is widely credited for bringing yoga to the West. She wrote four books, including “Yoga For Americans: A Complete 6 Week Course for Home Practice.”
Most yogis have heard of Geeta Iyengar’s famous father, BKS Iyengar, but his eldest daughter is a respectable yogi in her own right. Iyengar started teaching yoga as a teenager.
She became known for teaching yoga specifically for the needs of women, including safe practices for pregnant and postpartum women. She published several books, including “Yoga: A Gem for Women” and “Iyengar Yoga for Motherhood: Safe Practice for Expectant & New Mothers.”