Yoga has over the last decade inspired a large number of people across the world to study the Indian science of exercise and healing. Thousands of yoga centres and studios have come up and it has become a multi-billion dollar industry. The growth is mainly driven by the healthcare industry. Yoga today is being used as a therapy to cure multiple ailments. According to an estimate, the Indian wellness market is over Rs 500 billion of which 40 per cent is attributed to wellness services. During the time of the pandemic, the industry saw more people enrolling themselves for yoga classes. The Ministry of Ayush too said that yoga can be used for the management of coronavirus infection.
According to Rishikesh Kumar, founder of Xtraliving, the number of yoga practitioners has increased over the years because people are becoming more health-conscious and looking for alternatives to help manage their stress and anxiety. He explained that studies show that yoga is linked to physical fitness and cures multiple diseases and disorders. The 35-year-old said that through Xtraliving he strives to provide people with an environment that encourages them to become better, healthier versions of themselves. And that’s how, he said, a country can achieve the goal of being a healthy society, and so a healthy world.
He said healthy habits are the building blocks for a successful career. And to become a fitness entrepreneur, it is important to have a clear goal-setting. To set up a business that delivers results, he said, "One of the defining parts of the most successful fitness movements is their focus on building a community or tribe of members. Successful fitness entrepreneurs build brands by creating a unique culture that sets their studio apart from the rest of the competition."
The Hyderabad-based fitness company provides comprehensive wellness solutions based on the three pillars -- exercise, nutrition, and recovery. "We start with an assessment, identify gaps and imbalances and then work on it," he said. Speaking about his journey, Kumar said that he saw people suffering needlessly from diabetes, and therefore decided to contribute to the health and wellness of people. "I started in 2017. It took several pivots to get the right model. Today we have the first International standard CrossFit Centre in Hyderabad," he said, adding that his organisation has partnered with the Maharashtra government to launch a campaign for spreading awareness around health and fitness. The campaign covered approximately one lakh schools.
"The aim is to provide people with a healthy lifestyle which enables them to live a long, fit, and stress-free life. We train people using our programmes and stalwarts of the fitness industry who contribute to lay the foundation of a healthier India," he said.
Besides Kumar, there are many more young enthusiasts who gave up their plush jobs to start a career in Yoga and provide comprehensive wellness solutions to bring a change in the lives of thousands. One among them is Shivani Gupta. The 33-year-old owns hellomyyoga -- a platform that helps people find the best yoga teacher and yoga studios in India. She took the plunge into yoga after leaving the plush family business in Delhi to cater the health needs of people. Shivani said that she aims to connect authentic yoga teachers of India to yoga seekers worldwide. She began servicing the yogic community worldwide three years ago and has over 250 studios onboard.
Shivani said that she realised the power of yoga during a vacation years ago and decided to contribute to society to transform lives. The young woman calls herself a yogi rather than an entrepreneur, adding that she practices yoga daily that goes beyond yoga mat and flexing body.
"All this time, I have been guided by the discourses of Bhagavad Gita, the three principles that define most of my tasks are: Firstly, surrender the fruits of your action. I started with nil expectations. I was persistent, hardworking, and had no excuses to procrastinate. Secondly, progress and developments are the rules of the universe. I started from social media channels and the response led it to create a portal and from there it created a yoga discussion forum – Mitra and later hellomyyoga started rolling out its own programmes in association with great yoga teachers of India."
"Thirdly, a mind obsessed with money cannot meditate. Our beautiful work to organise the ecosystem of yoga in India was unignorable and to be part of this journey many yoga centres approached for paid collaboration but we declined all these kinds of offers and stick to the original philosophy of hellomyyoga i.e. to promote India’s great teachers and their centres, because we knew we are working to make something big," she said.
According to Shivani, there are many untrained teachers and a small mistake could put many lives at risk. This is where, she said, hellomyyoga comes in. The platform helps yoga seekers in finding spiritual space to practice yoga in India. Services that she offers include a digital directory for verified yoga centres, teacher training courses and yoga events in multiple cities, Mitra - an open discussion forum to assist yoga practitioners worldwide, and digital programs and webinars for beginners to advanced practitioners.
During the Covid-induced lockdown, Shivani said that she disseminated powerful webinars on topics like how to combat anxiety, stress during pandemic; therapies for COVID-19; ayurveda in daily life; and yogic parenting principles. These webinars saw more than 700 attendees on Zoom and other platforms. She said that social media and digital platforms have contributed to reaching out to the target people. She proudly said that her team has truly changed many lives and is planning to reach out to 500 kids by the end of 2020 through online channels.