ENTREPRENEURS
International Yoga Day: Meet 7 women entrepreneurs who have turned their passion into a career

Yoga and fitness is big business in India. According to a report by Deloitte India, the fitness industry in India is worth $1.1 billion, and growing at 16-18 percent. The wellness market in India registered a growth rate of 18-20 percent during 2012 to touch a market size of $700 billion.

So if you have passion for fitness and good business acumen, it makes good sense to start up in this field.

We present to you a list of women who have taken yoga to a new level – by making a business out of it while promoting its numerous benefits.

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Puja Borker – Juru Mats

Puja Borker is the Co-founder of Juru Yoga Mats and she takes pride in the fact that her product is eco-friendly. When she was in her early twenties, Puja had different ambitions for life. After completing her course in International Business in the UK, she was hoping to pursue an MBA in the US. Unfortunately, her father met with an accident and she had to take up family responsibilities.She tried her hand at different things including her family’s publishing business and also starting a low-cost IT solution with her husband.

During this time, Puja enrolled in a yoga course and was certified as a trainer. During her training, she found that most yoga mats were uncomfortable. After research, she learnt that most mats were made out of Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC) material and were mostly of US brands. Convinced that a better, comfortable mat was needed, Puja started talking with local manufacturers and brainstormed on how yoga mats can be better made.

Finally, she readied a sample. The name Juru is a portmanteau of ‘ju’te and natural ‘ru’bber, both indigenous Indian resources. With feedback from her users and research, she kept on making improvisations. Orders began pouring in and she finally unveiled a cork mat at an exclusive yoga festival.

In a previous interview with HerStoryPuja said, “I also wanted the mat to be natural and I did not want to compromise on grip!”

Priyanka Nair – Pia Yoga

Before starting her own yoga studio in South Goa, Priyanka Nair worked as a yoga instructor in her hometown Mumbai. As clients appreciated her unique way of teaching, she was inspired to take her career further and include mindfulness as part of her training sessions.

Priyanka introduced ‘blindfolded yoga’ which brought her into the spotlight. She believes that a daily yoga routine imparts a sense of mindfulness, gratitude, and better health.

A professional trainer, Priyanka has studied yoga at various institutes, that includes the Yoga Institute in Mumbai and the Ashtanga Yoga Shala in Mysuru. She is also an E-RYT 200 certified yoga teacher from Yoga Alliance, US.

She conducts classes and workshops on Ashtanga and Hatha yoga, anatomy, alignment, chakra balancing, prenatal yoga, sound healing meditation and pool yoga.

Natasha Mahindra – Anam Cara Yoga Retreats

Natasha says her initiation into yoga happened rather slowly.

A certified trainer from the Kripalu Center in Massachusetts, the founder believes a lot of her learning in yoga has happened as a teacher. From Ashtanga Vinyasa to Hatha Vinyasa, she has also learnt Sufi whirling and ancient systems where women went into retreats.

Founded in 2012, Ana Cara Yoga Retreats was born out of two of Natasha’s passions – travel and yoga. Her company takes people on yoga adventures and are not confined to training centres.

Payal Gidwani, Instructor

Payal Gidwani is known for having trained actors like Kareena Kapoor Khan and Saif Ali KhanJacqueline Fernandez, Rani Mujherji, Sridevi, and Malaika Arora Khan in fitness. She has also written two book, Body Goddess: The Complete Guide on Yoga for Women, and From XL to XS.

Aastha Gulati – Dhurri

After graduating from Lady Sri Ram College in Delhi, Aastha worked as an Actuarial Consultant for over six years. But her passion for fitness and dance took over. She left her corporate job and started choreographing as a freelancer and then went on to start her own business, Dhurri. Her passion for dance has taken her places – the US, Thailand, Korea, and European countries.

She is a sought-after fitness instructor who combines yoga, aero yoga, pilates, and zumba.

Rinku Suri – Yoga 101

Like most people, Rinku Suri was advised to practise yoga for health reasons. She continued practising yoga even on her vacation to Cambodia in August 2012. While she was in the country, a chance visit to a yoga café became her inspiration to set up Yoga 101.

Her one unshakeable belief is that yoga becomes a way of life in deed, speech, and awareness.

The studio has a common area where people can relax and read books. Rinku believes yoga has always been a part of the Indian lifestyle, but the hurdle, she says, is in bringing people to practise in a studio.

Speaking to HerStory, she said,

“I tell everyone it’s a different ball game when you do yoga alone and when you do it in a group. The energies are different and there is always a subtle push to give a hundred percent.”

Fharzana Siraj – Orange Bay

Fharzana started practising yoga at the age of 13. But she developed back pain due to the improper way of practising it.  Wanting to learn it in the right way, she joined the Iyengar Yoga way of learning. A certification by BKS Iyengar as a yoga practitioner and trainer from RIM Yoga Institute in Pune felt like an achievement in itself but she did not stop.  To broaden her understanding, she also received a doctorate in Alternate Medicine and Masters in Yoga Therapy.

Approaching health issues in a holistic way, she founded a centre for holistic fitness and welness called Orange Ray in 2015. Based in Chennai, the company helps patients with various services like yoga chikitsa, acupuncture, and homeopathy.

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