How I Invented 23 Forms Of Yoga And Started The Country’s Largest Yoga Chain

Posted on October 29, 2016 in Health and Life, My Story

By Sarvesh Shashi:

As a kid, getting into trouble was my only purpose in life. But purpose, however, was a tall order to think about for little old me back in the days.

My father ran a few successful worldwide businesses, and he pictured me in his CEO chair rather optimistically. I wasn’t completely averse to the idea. If any girl asked me which position I like, I could just show my visiting card and say “CEO” then.

I do however, remember that one time when I was watching a Rajnikanth movie as a kid. There was this one scene where he climbs the ladder and breaks a pot. And the audience went ballistic. It was at that moment that I found myself wanting to be that person who provides people with the very same joy and happiness. I wanted to enthrall and inspire.

Cricket was the answer, I thought. I worked hard to hone my cricketing skills. From a very young age I gave up everything to playing cricket. I even managed to tour along with the IPL teams for close to 3 years and played a decent level of cricket. There was still something missing. But, like Ranbir Kapoor from “Wake Up Sid”, I must say that this Sid really did wake up.

This was when I discovered the catalyst – yoga.

My dad had taken up yoga classes for a month and wasn’t able to complete them. He asked me if I could finish them instead. In one month, I was so hooked to it that I was overflowing with questions about consciousness, enlightenment, etc. From my yoga teacher; a man wearing orange robes, long hair, beard, the complete set, I was expecting blessings and a promise to show me the way, followed by a halo of light appearing behind him. Instead, he said, “If you think I can enlighten you, you are a fool and I am a bigger fool if I tell you I can.”

That hit me. Hard. Sort of like how you feel when you call out to your best friend to help you during the exam and he doesn’t turn. So, I went to my dad and told him I am definitely continuing this.

The yoga teacher then became the person who took me from darkness to light. Hence I started calling him my guru. Under guruji’s guidance, I started the 5 precepts at the early age of 18. What are the 5 precepts? No alcohol, no smoking, no non-vegetarian food, celibacy, no mental and physical stealing. For how long, you ask? Not much, just around 7 years.

Then, at 19, I went on supreme silence for 10 days and did the same later for 40 days. No music, no TV, no newspapers, no friends, no books, no phones, complete silence where you can’t even look into another person’s eyes. And probably the most important of them all – meditate for 9 hours straight.

At 21 – an age so many of us look forward to finally being able to enter a bar legally – but for me, it was a time to make choices. My heart yearned for something different. Yet, I still couldn’t put my finger on what it was.

It was then that I had a long, deep conversation with guruji and before I knew it, I had ‘zorba’ in my head. It involved yoga, which was something that had by then become a major part of my life. The least that I could do was to give back to the world what I experienced in the last 5 years. And it involved helping people and bringing them happiness,

‘Zorba’ in Greek means one who lives fully each day. That’s what we teach our clients – how to live in the now. And the road to my endeavor began on December 1 2013, with Zorba – A Renaissance Studio.

Yoga has always been part of our culture. But we wanted to stand out by presenting yoga to our clients not as something serious and austere, but fun, diverse and entertaining all at once! We presented yoga not just as a discipline, but as a lifestyle. I have a session where 14 homemakers crack jokes and laugh and do nothing else; that’s what makes them come back for more.

Now, how did I get the 6-year-olds and 19-year-olds to attend? The moment I say hatha yoga, they might run away. So, we formulated and customised 23 forms of yoga just to ensure that we packaged it for everybody from a 6-year-old to a 90-year-old.

We started paddle board yoga, aerial yoga, insight yoga, basketball yoga, yoga in the middle of the sea on a surf board and many more. No matter what form of yoga we practiced, there was one thing that brought them all together.

It was a unification of mind, body and soul, which is pretty much what yoga is, and has been for thousands of years!

So, it isn’t all about just ‘surya namaskar’ and meditation. It is packaging happiness to people, and giving them means to bring out the best in them and live and enjoy every single day to its fullest.

With one studio, we had about 100 clients of which most of them were women who were home makers. Suddenly, after we introduced the new forms of yoga, we got people, from 12 to 80, we started 20 new studios, and are planning to start 120 more. We went from 100 to 5000 in no time.

I always was a bit wild. But zorba helped me channel that into presenting yoga that is unconventional, bold and has changed the way people, and maybe the world, will look at yoga.

So, what’s next, you may wonder?

I’ll strive to make people happy, and spread it across and beyond the country. Watching others’ happiness fuels my own. And at the end of the day, that is the one thing we all strive for.