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Yoga is picking up in popularity in Goa. The business is flourishing locally and can easily be taken up by more Goans, says Serilda Coutinho

Yoga at full stretch and booming

Yoga’s popularity in Goa is increasing by the day. A decade- and-half back, the benefits of it was understood by only a certain segment of the local populace. But today the ancient Indian regimen of good health is finding takers among nearly all. Residents are steadily enrolling in yoga classes and performing asanas with ease. 

With very little of investment to start up practice, yoga is actually a sound business proposition. Yoga guru Baba Ramdev is proof of it. From conducting a class on national TV and teaching viewers the benefits of kapalbhati and anulom-vilom, he now runs a multi-million business empire running into crores. Closer home we have several entrepreneurs who are making big bucks out of yoga.

Dr Siddharth Savaikar, owner, Yoga Therapy Clinic, is famous for his thriving centers. He holds classes in Panaji and Margao and is uneasy talking about the business potential of yoga. But going by the full attendance at each of his centers, it is clear that yoga is lucrative for him.

According to Ibrahim Harun who is in the furniture business and also franchise owner, Kripa Foundation Iyengar Yoga, “Yoga requires more of human investment compared to infrastructure.” He explains that, the human investment is by way of experienced instructors to teach learners the right technique.”

Other experts who run classes disclose that, the main investment is of premises as the physical tools of yoga are minimal and not all costly.  For Jasmine D’souza, proprietor, J’zy Yoga Studio, Caranzalem, the investment to startup was high as she chose to convert an old house to a studio. While for Namrata Anand Menon, owner; World of Yoga, Dona Paula, setting up her own premises in Panjim was a struggle. Conducting classes for 20 years, she says, “It is difficult to get a loan sanctioned by the bank as yoga is treated as an unorganized sector.”

D’souza says that, she started her classes with just two students in her flat and now holds it in the studio to accommodate the rush. “Most of my students are local working women and housewives,” she says, adding that, yoga classes are mushrooming in the beach-belt. “Foreigners are renting premises in the tourist areas as setting up a center in the city is costly. The beach areas also offer good clientele in the tourist season,” she says.

Besides foreigners, individuals from other states are also heading to the state to grab a share of the pie. Recently, Mumbai based, the Yoga Institute of Santa Cruz, set up its center at Chorao. Spread over seven acres, the center will impart yoga training in residential camps.

Jaipur resident, Om Prakash Gaur, proprietor, Aum Yoga Studio, Assagao, is an old hand at yoga having being in the field for 11 years. “I charge my students Rs 300- Rs 500 on per classes basis as my intake is seasonal. You will not find the same number of students for every session as the number keeps fluctuating,” says Gaur. He says that, he receives less number of Goans and most of his customers are tourists or non-Goans who are in the state on work or business.

Coming to the fees charged by yoga entrepreneurs, it varies depending on the location of the center and other factors. Dr Savaikar charges Rs 2,200 per month for a thrice a week session lasting for an hour. While for Menon the charges vary between Rs 2,500 to Rs 3,000 per month. Most yoga centers it turns out charge an average monthly fee of about Rs 2,500 for a thrice a week session.

Menon says that, yoga centers in the state arte increasing by the day but getting trained by an uncertified professional can be as dangerous as being prescribed the wrong medicine. She feels  that, Goans don’t mind paying extra to get the best training.  Although successful in her practice,  Menon says that, running her center still feels like struggle due to lack of financial support and recognition at state level.

“Yoga is treated like an unorganized sector in our country, while the westerners have already adopted it as a successful entrepreneurship option. Better financial backing can help more locals’ setup their own studios and encourage yoga trainers to utilize yoga as an employment generation opportunity in the state,” says the smart yoga expert who has a corporate background.  She adds that, the response is encouraging from corporate clients as they are more prone to a stressful lifestyle and are willing to shell out for sessions.

With yoga the hottest fitness trend, studios in the state have adjusted the frequency of their classes to suit the budget of their clients. To make her business profitable and cover up the maintenance cost of the premises, D’souza follows a rotational pattern where one student completes an hour of practice and makes space for the other.

“In this way there is no particular timing for my class. Anyone can drop in between the three hours duration allotted for the morning batch.” she says. Understanding the demand for a workout requirement for couples and pregnant mothers in Goa, D’souza, also introduced couple, prenatal and post-natal yoga at her studio which she claims is first of its kind in the state.

Apart from yoga for fitness, therapeutic yoga has been making waves for very long time and has the backing of doctors. “For therapy yoga we simplify the poses depending upon the patient’s ailment and make use of simple props such as a pillow, bolsters and blankets to provide the support, “says Dr Savaikar.

Another form of yoga that is slowly picking up in the state is the aerial and aqua yoga.  “Aerial and aqua yoga are costlier compared to the haath yoga that uses just the mat as aerial yoga requires props like hammock and nylon sling  to secure oneself,” says Noor Suresh Girglani, a Hyderabad based, aerial yoga instructor who conducts classes at Dona Paula.

Shivendra Ojha, co-founder, Swan Yoga Retreat, Assagao, says that, Goa has the potential to become the yoga capital of India following the footsteps of Rishikesh. “In a decade Goa will see a number of yoga schools coming up that will provide ample of opportunities for employment yoga students along with entrepreneurship opportunities for those who want to set it up as a business,” predicts Ojha.

According to studio owners translating yoga into a successful business model had been a challenging task despite its popularity. “I had to break the religious barrier associated to yoga to get local residents and being a local myself it was easier to communicate to them and change their perspective,” says D’souza .

 

Yoga’s money making potential

Across India there has been a spike in the number of people signing up for yoga. There are no proper estimates on the size of the yoga industry, but according to reports, the estimated value of the industry globally is at around US $80 billion. In India, yoga is an integral part of the wellness industry the size of which is in the region of Rs 85,000 crore annually. The shortage of qualified yoga instructors is a major issue facing the industry which makes the practice a win-win situation for those who are experts at it.

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