Visit to the Hermogenes Institute in Rio de Janeiro

Sandra Pereira
Written by Sandra Pereira

Sandra Pereira’s Recent Visit to the Hermogenes Institute in Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil (August 2014)

Prof. Jose’ Hermogenes, is considered to be one of the greatest masters of the Brazilian Modern Hatha Yoga and one of the first practitioners of Holistic Medicine in Brazil.  He founded the Hermogenes Institute in Rio de Janeiro, RJ in 1962 and has published eleven books on Hatha Yoga and Holistic Medicine in Brazil. Recently one of his books has been translated into English and the title is Yoga for Nervous People (2013).

The Hermogenes Institute is run by his grandson, Thiago Leao, and I met him during my short stay at the Institute. From him, I learnt that Prof. Hermogenes is now 93 years old and unfortunately is not teaching Yoga anymore because of a major health problem and is now using a wheelchair on a daily basis. Thiago kindly told me that Prof. Hermogenes is still practising Yoga daily at his apartment and is in good mind and spirit.

The Institute is located in a very pretty street of Rio de Janeiro, on the 5th floor of a building near a beautiful church and the state main theatre. During my first visit to the Institute the staff members were incredibly friendly and made me feel like if we were good friends that had not seen each other for ages.

Thiago was very kind and I was able to attend one of his classes even though it was very short notice. His Yoga style was gentle and he taught like he had all the time in the world to guide his female students. The Institute has separate classes based on the gender like the traditional Hatha Yoga classes in India. The room was big enough for 20 yoga mats with plenty of room to spare, and the walls were adorned with photos of eminent yogis along with a Hindi statue of Shiva. The usual rubber yoga mats were replaced by straw beach mats which reassured me that I was definitely in Rio de Janeiro. After reading from one of Prof. Hermogenes’s Citation Books, Thiago started the class with a breathing technique called Respiracao Quadrada (Square breathing). This technique was familiar to me but it was the first time that I had practised it in a group and followed the instructions in Portuguese. We then followed him singing the Chant So Hum. Followed by the asana sequence, which was lovely with classic postures (Tree Pose, Fish Pose, Cobra Pose, Triangle Pose, etc.) and some variations on those that I assumed were taught by Prof. Hermogenes over the years. The progressive relaxation technique was very helpful and made me aware of all the nuances and flavours of trying to relax in a new place and with the background noise of a busy and lively city such as Rio de Janeiro. A strange sense of novelty and peace came to my mind at the same time. I felt the positive and calming energy of Yoga in my mind, body and soul.

Before I left the Institute, I told Thiago and his staff how grateful I was to them for their warm welcome. I am looking forward to my next trip to the Institute and meeting Thiago and his Staff once again.

Love, Peace and Namaste!

Details on the Hermogenes Institute and Prof Jose’ Hermogenes are available at and ,

Sandra’s Interest for Prof Hermogenes in Hatha Yoga

You may wonder how I came across Prof. Hermogenes Hatha Yoga Institute. Well, for the past ten years I have been visiting my parents who live in Campo Grande, MS in Brazil. About three years ago, I heard about Prof. Hermogenes and his work on Hatha Yoga and Holistic Health for the first time from my Campo Grande’s Hatha Yoga Teacher. She kindly told me about Prof.  Hermogenes and his heart-warm book entitled: Autoperfeicao com Hatha Yoga (Self-Perfection with Hatha Yoga).

At that time I was considering the idea of starting my Yoga teacher training qualification in Stirling, Scotland. I had read a  dozen or so Hatha books in English but found the names, concepts, and methodology frightening. It all appeared so complex and difficult. As soon as I started reading Autoperfeicao com Hatha Yoga in Portuguese, I was able to understand the nomenclature that Prof. Hermogenes has written in. I was so grateful for this book, for its suggestions and lessons because I realised I just needed to use my own words to show my future students what was happening to our bodies and minds when we were practising Yoga.

Thank you so much to you Prof. Hermogenes for being a clear and kind master in Hatha, Holistic Health and wellbeing to me.