As a part of the Morning Lazziness series about strong women leaders who followed their dreams and attained success with their incredible ideas, I had the pleasure of interviewing Siddhi Shah.
Siddhi Shah hails from a business-oriented family in Mumbai, originally from Gujarat, India. After graduation, she joined her family business to support their commercial enterprise dealing in artificial jewellery. As someone who believed in keeping herself fit, she also pursued the Yoga Teachers’ Training from The Yoga Institute, Mumbai.
Days seemed longer when she juggled work with the course. She was busy on all days of the week, but the workshop transformed Siddhi’s outlook towards wellness and life in general. She’s now a strong proponent of the yogic way of living, and as a full-time teacher, enlightens others by spreading the joy she receives from the practice.
What made you turn towards yoga at the early age of 21?
After completing my dietician’s course, dad wished for me to continue with our business or offered to start a new venture just for me. But I thought yoga could become a meaningful extension to my dietician training, so I joined The Yoga Institute. Little did I know it would change my life forever!
How did yoga impact your life?
Even though, by chance, the yoga training was the best thing that happened to me. Through the entire duration, I not only learned the practice but got educated in life lessons. Realized the power of acceptance and the art of “letting go.” In fact, my entire perception of the world and people around me changed due to yoga; I cannot imagine my life without yoga now!
Tell us how We Live Yoga originated?
Not wanting to stop after learning during the course, I decided to multiply the joy I felt within by sharing it with others. I started teaching yoga at a studio near my residence, which gave me the confidence to start on my own. I upskilled with new fun techniques like power and aerial form of exercises. This was when a few like-minded people collaborated to form We Live Yoga – Join the Movement – the name resonates with our shared vision.
How did you find the acceptance of yoga in the community?
Yoga has always been associated largely with asanas as exercise. Our approach to it is about living the philosophy. It should become a habit, not something one does for an hour in the morning/evening. Hence, we say, “We Live Yoga.”
Being a fairly young team, people elder to us and the senior citizens find it weird that someone younger is talking to them about life lessons! That has to be managed well. Initially, when I had a handful of students, a lot of time was spent running between studios and residences. But now, thankfully, I have rented a studio where people from all walks of life come to exercise with me.
What are the offerings at your organization, and what’s your specialty?
At the Institute we initially started private classes (group and one-on-one). After building a foundation, we ventured into the corporate space.
Our focus is on the theoretical aspect of the yoga way of life, this hugely helps in dealing with emotional and mental wellbeing other than physical wellness.
Additionally, I undertake specialized classes for pre-natal yoga. I have women in various stages of their pregnancy, some even attending till their last trimester.
Sanjayji is known for his ability to teach people with such ease that his class has an age range of 12 to 72! Jitendraji works relentlessly for the cause of the environment and is also involved in multiple CSR activities; he brings in the green into We Live Yoga. Darshanaji is well-versed with the yogic routines and has never stopped learning. She recently enrolled and completed her master’s in Yoga.
Anandji enjoys conducting yoga/meditation workshops and is known for his in-class humour. He even got conversant with Vedanta (Vedic literature) at the Arsha Vidya Gurukulam and adds a touch of this ancient wisdom in his classes.
What’s the way forward for We Live Yoga?
Since we formally began in 2018, we’ve had the chance to touch 2000+ lives at various locations. We conducted sessions at schools, colleges, gyms, offices, and multiple yoga centers/ashrams. Our work towards the betterment of mental and physical health continues. With the Almighty’s blessings, once the pandemic situation is under control, we would like to begin short & long-term courses and retreats in an ashram founded by Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati at a hill station in Maharashtra.
Are you able to devote time for classes post-marriage?
Yoga is now a part of my life, not something I do as a job, so really, other than the 1-month break I took for marriage, I never stopped. Yes, I had to shift base and forge new relationships (personally and professionally!), so I took it slow. My students had also migrated to different places but stayed in touch, which could be more satisfying for a teacher. It was a matter of time before I could start teaching again. Actually, post lockdown has been challenging as we had to transition from a complete physical to a virtual teaching mode.
Is it the same as a physical class?
No, it’s definitely not the same. There was reluctance amongst students during the initial lockdown months, and they wanted to wait it out for physical classes to restart. When that didn’t seem like happening, clients contacted me to start online; I took this in my stride. Even though it took longer for some to get used to the idea, in about 4-5 months, we were on a fully digital mode.
Look at the positive side, my clients have the convenience of practicing from their locations, and a lot of time is saved due to zero commute. Now, I have customers from around the globe – the US, UK, UAE, and so on. We live yoga has truly gone global!
Do you think another business would have been more lucrative?
We are a set of very passionate teachers. We live yoga was initiated with that shared passion for the ancient tradition; money and commercial success was nowhere a part of this vision. All of us upgrade our skills and return, re-energized to impart what we’ve learned to our students. The kind of fulfillment we receive from this is incomparable to any job or compensation in this world.
Share some satisfying customer experiences with us.
As a pregnancy yoga specialist, I have students who are home-makers to even top medicos (gynecologists). When they select me as their teacher and recommend others, they are placing their complete trust in me. I am dealing with two lives – the mother and the baby; the gifts and cards I receive post-delivery from the moms is a reward unparalleled! That’s when I feel the aha-moment – yes, we made it!
One of the feedbacks I cherish:
“It has been a wonderful 6 years of yoga with Siddhi, and each moment has been amazing. Siddhi helped me maintain my weight, stay active throughout my pregnancy, finally leading to a normal delivery. Post that, the practice and some workouts got me back to my pre-pregnancy shape. Her suggested exercises built & raised my stamina and energy levels. Thanks to her, I look younger than my pre-pregnancy days!”
What’s your advice to readers in these challenging pandemic times?
This has indeed been a testing time. Emotions, mental and physical health is at the lowest for some people, while others have taken this as an opportunity to work on it and excel.
One can keep complaining about what’s not there or what could have been, but the pandemic has taught us a lot – one of it is to innovate, make the best of the given circumstances, and evolve.
It’s been the right time to learn, assimilate and apply the understanding of “nothing is permanent” and “this too shall pass.” Just have faith in the self, everyone & everything around you, and live in the present moment.
Incidentally, 21st June is International Yoga Day; We Live Yoga – Join the Movement ([email protected])
“Yoga does not just change the way we see things, it transforms the person who sees.”― B.K.S Iyengar