With 20 years of experience in yoga under her belt and an internationally registered studio in Dona Paula, Namrata Anand Menon has come a long way after giving up her corporate career to follow her passion. She has translated yoga into a successful business model
Q: Why did you opt to start a business in Goa?
Goa was the ideal destination because of many reasons. The state has the right ambience, great weather, a calm and beautiful geography and is also a world class tourist destination. Also at the time we started, 19 years back, there was no professional yoga training centre in the state.
Q: Your toughest task in setting up the business?
When I set up the studio the toughest task was first to educate the locals on what was yoga and how it could positively contribute to transforming health and the quality of life. Second, there was very little understanding of yoga in Goa at that time. The activity was relegated to the unorganized sector. Third, we had to focus on changing the mindset of people. Yoga was never associated with professionalism and business rather it was perceived as an activity relegated to ashrams and gurus. So, we had to create a niche for yoga as a professional service. World of Yoga was the first professionally run yoga studio to be set up here.
Q: Have you achieved all your goals? If not what remains to be done?
We have achieved some of our goals. For instance, I can proudly claim that our center has played a very important role in educating Goans about yoga and how important it is for 21st century related health issues.
We have over the years taught and trained hundreds of Goans to practice yoga to relieve stress, get physically fit and cure psychosomatic ailments such as diabetes, blood pressure, asthma, along with improving their lifestyle for long term benefits.
Also, as the first professionally run yoga studio, we have over the years trained many to become world class teachers. But there is much that needs to be done. We are still struggling with scaling up our operational work. This requires financial and infrastructural support from the government.
Q: Your best business moment.
There have been many. For instance, when we were able to extend our business into ayurveda and when Sripad Naik, minister of the AYUSH ministry, felicitated our studio. We were given a five star rating internationally and were able to extend our services to a 365 day, nine-hour day schedule.
Q: Most difficult period. How did you overcome it?
Every day in a creative start up business is a challenge. How to organize adequate finances, in order for the infrastructure and bringing in the best trained manpower is a challenge. Creating awareness and change perceptions with meager marketing budget is challenging. But what perhaps remains our greatest challenge is to garner support from the government for private yoga institutes like ours.
I cannot honestly say that we have overcome these issues. Especially since our direct competitors are ashrams and spiritual gurus who obtain huge donations and support from the public and government.
Q: How did you settle down and merge into the Goan lifestyle?
This, I must admit, happened seamlessly, effortlessly since it was primarily Goans who were our clients. They were directly involved in supporting, promoting and setting up our center. The nature of our business was such that it thrived on generating health, positivity, fitness and creating lasting interpersonal relationships with our clients. In fact, many of our teachers and staff are people who have trained at the institute in the past.
Q: Customs or festivals that appeal to you.
Goa is a curious combination of the deeply traditional as well a very vibrantly modern cultural ethos. I love the constant attitude of celebration of life that is so unique here. This is one state which believes in finding balance in life, where work and personal lives are both given equal importance. I love the festivity, joy, laughter, music and dance that the air along with the warmth that the people here emit. There is no place like Goa on the planet!
Q: State one aspect of Goa which has changed for better or worse?
What has probably hurt Goa the most is poorly planned, reckless and illegal construction. Amongst the positives, I think that there has been an effort to improve roads. But a lot needs to be done.
Q: What changes would you like to see in the business as well as social environment?
First we need to change our attitudes both as individuals as well as a society. Only then will we see the positive changes we yearn for in our business and social environment. Personally, when I set out to make a profession and a business out of yoga, the biggest hurdle I faced was stereotypical attitudes and mindsets which proved to be a huge impediment for us to grow. As individuals we need to learn to think out of the box, as a society, we need to promote businesses that will give our children a better future, and as a state. We need to encourage and support entrepreneurship. This is one of the main reasons Indians tend to thrive economically in other countries because in our own country we just don’t give enough support and encouragement to those who dare to go against the tide and do things differently.
Q: If not in business what would you have chosen as a profession? Why?
I never chose to be in business. My passion became a business. But I think if you want to
make any profession you choose commercially viable, you have to make a success of it in a business sense. Without adequate funds and creativity a commercial enterprise is not possible. So, in a sense, if we are successful commercially we are all doing a business!
Q: Your definition of susegado
Nothing in life can be achieved without a relaxed mind!