Yoga and Ayurveda are ancient practices with a rich Indian history. Yoga extends beyond performing asanas on the mat – it is also about breath, meditation, and sensible living. And infusing Ayurveda principles can help many understand the strengths and weaknesses of their inherent nature to better navigate everyday life. A great platform can further one’s journey to health and happiness by helping incorporate Yoga and Ayurveda practices into one’s daily routine. And yogi Namita Piparaiya is making these holistic practices available and accessible to all.

In conversation with TC46, Yoga and Ayurveda lifestyle specialist and founder of Yoganama, Namita Piparaiya shares her journey from banking to entrepreneurship. Here, she talks about how passion motivates your career, the need to choose reputed courses and the need to invest in upskilling yourself.

1. What’s your educational and professional background?

By way of education, I am a Maths Honours graduate from Delhi University and an MBA in Finance and Marketing from Symbiosis. For over a decade, I was a corporate executive with multinationals such as Citibank, Aviva, and Generali. But then I found my true calling in Yoga a few years ago. As part of my wellness journey, I have completed over 700 hours of Yoga Alliance certified training in Hatha Yoga. I have also studied Pranayama, Ayurveda, and Yoga Philosophy from some of the most reputed institutions and teachers globally. These include courses and workshops across Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies, Cambridge Summer School, eCornell, The Himalayan Institute (USA), David Frawley’s American Institute of Vedic Studies, Chinmaya Mission, Indea Yoga, Paulie Zink (founder of Yin Yoga), and BNS Iyengar (Mysore). 

2. What prompted you to become a yoga instructor? Did you always want to work in this space?

The turning point for me was in my last corporate job. I was offered a promotion and the opportunity to head a fast-growing business vertical, which would have escalated my career exponentially. It was a great opportunity and the best thing that could have happened to me professionally. But instead of feeling excited, I felt weighed down – because accepting it would have meant committing to growing a business that I had no particular passion for. It was then that I decided to let go of the security of a monthly paycheck and decided to invest my energy and resources in what I believe the world needs today more than anything else-peace of mind. And I’m working towards that goal not just by teaching Yoga but also by bringing awareness to the powerful practices of meditation and Ayurveda. I teach Yoga and create content to make Yoga, Ayurveda, and philosophy accessible and relevant to everyday life. 

3. What was your first milestone? And how did you get there?

My first milestone was to get certified as a Yoga Teacher in the hope of getting a wholesome understanding of Yoga and its many benefits. While I received a certificate in one month, it wasn’t enough for me to tick off the milestone. I invested another five months during which I did extensive self-study in the field of Yoga Philosophy, Meditation, Ayurveda, and postural Yoga Anatomy. By the end, I had completed 700 hrs of Yoga Teacher Training. I had a strong foundation in Yoga to define my practice and teaching style, which would eventually become the Yoganama Way.

4. How long did it take you to monetise? What was the turning point? 

As a Yoga Teacher, I started taking classes immediately after my training by teaching at different studios in Mumbai. I actively shared written and video content on social media, including YouTube. In a couple of years, this was picked up on by brands like Curefit as I shot many videos for their app. Today my videos on platforms such as TataSky, Voot, Hotstar, Cure. fit reach lakhs of viewers. 

5. What kind of marketing strategies work best for you? 

Social media has been the most powerful marketing platform for Yoganama. Creating relevant content, taking a genuine interest in people’s problems, and giving access to your teaching style help create affinity and a loyal clientele. Additionally, I use e-mail marketing and referrals.

6. Do you have any tips for an aspiring entrepreneur who wants to enter this space? 

Plan well, have clear goals. Don’t just take impulsive decisions and take some time to plan out what you want to do, what your goals are before diving into anything. The Yoga space is currently unorganised, which is both an obstacle and an opportunity. Because it is unorganised, you’ll have to work hard to carve out your space and establish credibility. Equally, the canvas is wide open for you to innovate and experiment with new ideas. So, follow your intuition and stay true to your vision. 

7. Are there any online or offline courses that you would recommend before entering this space?

Doing a good Teacher Training Course (TTC) will help you start this journey with a strong foundation. However, choosing a TTC depends on many factors, two of which are – what style of Yoga do you want to teach and your budgets. There are many reputed courses you can take up, and it’s best to choose once you have clarity about what you’re going to do after your TTC.

8. Which networking groups and showcasing events could help an aspirant meet the right people and generate work opportunities in this field?

Social Media is currently the most effective space for promoting your brand and finding new clients. As the industry starts getting organised and aggregators to start bringing teachers and clients under one roof, more avenues will open up. 

9. What are some investments (monetary or otherwise) one should be ready to make when entering the fitness and yoga space?

As a teacher, you only need to invest in upskilling yourself and doing an annual refresher training to stay updated on the latest science or new methods. However, with the pandemic, many teachers have had to shift their teaching online, and that requires some initial technology investment such as a good mic, webcam, and a fast internet connection. Additionally, a good website is also an excellent asset for a Yoga Teacher.

10. How has your business pivoted after the lockdown and in light of the pandemic?

In April ’20, I was in a precarious situation. Covid was rapidly spreading, yoga studios where I taught had shut down, and I couldn’t 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.

I eventually made a complete transition. Students from across the globe join my online yoga classes. I have conducted virtual workshops at international forums. Content from my make-shift home studio streams on India’s leading OTT platforms. And this little yoga venture may even break even!

So, it’s been a rewarding roller coaster journey.

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