Big power that backed the magnificent shift from your corporate life to entrepreneurship and the factors that influenced your footsteps into the world of yoga:
I decided to work in the Banking sector and joined Citi, right after business school. For more than a decade, I worked my way up across leading MNC financial service organizations. But the turning point came when I was offered a promotion in my last job. It was once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that would have escalated my career exponentially. Even though it was the best thing that could have happened to me professionally, instead of feeling excited, I felt weighed down. Instead of feeling joy and happiness, I felt disconnected. Because accepting it would have meant committing my life, time, and energy to growing a business that I was not feeling inherently passionate about. It was then that I decided to let go of the security of a monthly pay check and decided to pursue what I had always found myself driven towards. And that’s how I decided to invest my energy and resources in what I believe the world needs today more than anything else –the peace of mind.
How have your notions on yoga and health changed from childhood to the day, and where do you think is it heading:
My childhood has a strong bearing on my choices today. I grew up in a health-focused and a spiritually inclined family with a strong emphasis on healthy eating, personal development, and meditation. We were introduced to meditation in our early years. I grew up watching family members meditate diligently, some even for hours every morning. My parents would buy us storybooks with spiritual messages and concepts, but they never imposed anything on us. Growing up in a small town, we lead a healthy lifestyle with a focus on fruits, vegetables and homemade food. I did not eat processed cheese or a pizza till I was in college! Sports and physical activities were encouraged, and we spent a lot of time outdoors.
My parents' role was to introduce the key ideas and leave the choice up to us. This set the foundation for my philosophy – to remain curious, observe a lot and continue evolving without dogma or rigidity. So, the journey I am on today did start right in my childhood and continues to evolve till date.
Backed by the brave decision to shift career paths, what were some of the biggest circumstances that tested your strength and how did you use these hurdles as stepping stones for your future success:
One of my biggest and more immediate challenges was adapting to the Covid-19 Pandemic. Early last year, like so many other entrepreneurs, I was in a challenging situation – Covid was rapidly spreading, yoga studios where I taught had to shut down, nor could I travel for my shoots or workshops. Like many, I tried to make the best of a difficult situation. I picked up Zoom, revamped my website, and started teaching yoga online. I took Udemy courses to learn the basics of videography, invested in lights, cameras, mics and converted my living room into a studio. I ramped up my social media presence and spent every minute either learning, teaching, or creating.
It was tiring and exhausting in the beginning when I had to reshoot videos as they just weren’t up to the mark, online class video quality wasn’t stable, and I felt bombarded with many other such teething issues. I almost ran a whole production unit by myself - being my own director, editor, light, and audio person, painstakingly learning and troubleshooting via online videos and tutorials. But I made the transition. I have been regularly taking online yoga classes, and students join from across the country and overseas. I have conducted virtual workshops at international forums—content from my make-shift home studio streams on India’s leading OTT platforms. And I realized I loved video content creation. An avenue that I may not have explored if it wasn’t for the circumstances.
Another challenge for me stems from the fact that I am a bit of a perfectionist. In Ayurvedic personality terms, I am a pitta personality type. I tend to deep dive into subjects in great detail. This means I will have a lot more clarity, but it slows me down considerably. As a result, I decided to invest six months practicing and studying Hatha Yoga even though I could have gotten a Teacher’s certificate in 30 days. I deep-dived into the Yoga Sutras in such detail that I contemplated doing a Ph.D. in the subject at some point in life. While the journey was rewarding, it was not a necessary condition for me to start teaching yoga. So, in hindsight, I could’ve started Yoganama earlier. But having studied all these subjects has helped me create a holistic offering for my students, which is now the “Yoganama” way.
What would be some Ayurvedic practises that can lead one to better health and at the same time be easily incorporated to everyday life without any trouble, especially for the ones working in the corporate setup:
The irony is that you don’t need to make time for Ayurveda in your busy life. Instead, Ayurveda will help you find that extra time and energy for your responsibilities and tasks. We think of Ayurveda as an interruption or something that needs a lot of time and energy because we often think of it as herbs, recipes, or treatments. In reality, the first step of Ayurveda is to find the right lifestyle for yourself. And no one can prescribe it to you because the only person who knows what’s best for you is you; it’s your intuition. Your needs change with seasons, mood, environment, and life events. No one is as up-to-date about them as you will be.
Understanding the concepts of Ayurveda can help you know yourself with great clarity. Regularly practicing yoga and meditation makes you more mindful, which further enhances your self-awareness. And awareness is the first step towards change; over time, you will naturally find yourself making choices that are better for you and your temperament. That is why you’ll notice that when people start doing yoga or meditation, their food choices start changing gradually – they don’t do it on purpose or wilfully. It’s a natural outcome.
That’s what Ayurveda does – it helps you simplify things and empowers you to make the best decisions for yourself. It teaches you to participate in your life actively, something that cannot be achieved sustainably by passively following prescriptions.
So, the simplest thing you can do is pick up an introductory book on Ayurveda, take an Ayurveda Dosha Quiz, and begin your journey of self-exploration.
What made you turn the idea of “Yoganama Wellness” into reality and why did you think it would become a success given the very competitive nature of the health & wellness industry:
The first Pillar of my journey was Yoga. I had experienced tremendous benefits with regular practice. I found my stress levels would dwindle rapidly with even just 20-30 minutes of practice- I would just start to feel calm, light, and decompressed.
As I dived deeper into the journey, I found Yoga Philosophy – that was my second Pillar. Philosophical texts like Yoga Sutras helped me understand why I felt better after Yoga or what role meditation has to play in our evolution. With that clarity, my resolution deepened significantly.
Then I discovered Ayurveda – that was my third Pillar. This discovery helped me customize my practice to my unique needs. Up until then, my practice was the same set of postures every day. This meant, my life revolved around my practice. But with Ayurveda, I introduced variability – sequences for different seasons and states of mind. How we combine postures can influence how we feel at the end of the practice. Now my practice was a tool that helped me live a more productive life, rather than a life that enabled me to practice.
This was my journey as a regular person, living her everyday life. Each Pillar helped me transform and improve my quality of life. And that can be the reality of everyone else too.
Who has been the mentor in your life that helped you overcome barricades in your entrepreneurial journey:
My husband has been my most supportive mentor, guide, and sounding board. Being an entrepreneur can be a very lonely journey, and having a good partner can make a tremendous difference in this case. Fortunately, both of us have very diverse views and often have entirely different approaches to the same issue. This means there’s always diversity in ideas, and you’re not living in a bubble that continues to reinforce your views over and over again.
Another obstacle in the entrepreneurial journey is excessive self-doubt, or the exact opposite, unwillingness to listen to different viewpoints. It can be overwhelming initially, but it’s important to find that balance where you not only stay true to your vision but also remain open to new ideas. I’ve time to time reached out to experts and seniors from different industries for guidance and inputs. A background in the corporate sector was an advantage here as I could leverage my network and make the best possible use of it.
And lastly, sometimes, my mistakes stood as my best mentors. Nothing teaches you like failing at something does. So, don’t be afraid to go wrong sometimes. It’s a part of the journey and a key ingredient in making you the entrepreneur that you’re really meant to be. We ought to embrace life with all of what comes with it!
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