Devi’s fascination with India began at 15 when she read a yoga instruction book by Yogi Ramacharaka. In 1927, she sailed for India and adopted a stage name that would sound Hindu and acted in Indian films. In 1930, she married Jan Strakaty, a commercial attache to the Czechoslovak consulate in Bombay.
The famous Yoga guru Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya accepted her as a student, only after the Maharaja of Mysore spoke on her behalf, and in 1938 she became the first foreign woman among dedicated yogis. At a time when yoga was almost an exclusively masculine pursuit, she was his first female student. She studied alongside B.K.S Iyengar and K. Pattabhi Jois who would also go on to become world famous yoga teachers. She met every challenge Krishnamacharya set out for her and was so successful that the guru asked her to work as a yoga teacher.
After the death of her husband in 1946 and with eight years of teaching experience gained in India, the renowned guru left for the United States in 1947. A year later she opened a yoga studio in Hollywood and she taught Greta Garbo, Eva Gabor, and Gloria Swanson.
n 1953, she married Dr. Sigfrid Knauer, a distinguished physician and humanist. She became an American citizen in the mid-fifties and her name officially became Indra Devi when she put it on her passport. She began speaking at conferences and on television and radio to spread word about the benefits of yoga and writing more books. She went to the Soviet Union in 1960 and tried to convince the government that yoga was not a religion and should be practiced there. It was finally legalized in Russia.
In 1982, she travelled to Argentina and fell in love with the country. Her popularity was immense and she was to spend the rest of her life there. It is here where she created the Fundacion Indra Devi which exists to this day. In 2002, her health was to worsen and she was to die peacefully in Buenos Aires on April 25, 2002.