At 21, I decided to turn my passion into a career. I experienced first hand the transformation that yoga brought in my life and wanted 7 billion people to experience what I had. Seems a bit unrealistic, doesn’t it? An Indian boy, at the age of 21 dreaming about making yoga accessible worldwide not only to those who accept its power but breaking the stereotypes that it has carried for the past years. To know how I made this possible we’ll have to go back to 2013.
Then: Let’s start with when SARVA wasn’t SARVA… our brand name back then meant a person who lives life fully each day. And that’s what we envisioned to achieve through yoga for everyone. We started with 3 studios in Chennai in 2013, under the guidance of my Guruji. Let me make this known the 3 studios at that time were a lot to handle, from managing class schedules to parking my clients’ cars and cleaning the studios, blood sweat and tears went into running a yoga business then. We introduced 25 unique forms of yoga, which meant a client would never repeat the same form of yoga in a month. My goal for introducing 25 forms of yoga was to make yoga ‘cool’ for the majority of the population in India who are under the age of 35. Yoga then and even now is often regarded as boring, slow or for the elderly and that’s the perception we strive to change.
In 2016, we became SARVA, a brand that stands on the three pillars of authenticity, modernity and accessibility of yoga. From 2016 to 2019 we thrived with our physical studios across the country and started our first round of funding. We soon founded Diva yoga studios with Malaika Arora, which is a sacred space for women to unleash their full potential through yoga.
Now: We didn’t know what hit us, we all entered a space that was unknown and like a whirlwind, we turned into a digital business. But what we knew was that giving up was not an option - no matter what the situation is, you always have to remember that you’ll always live to fight another day. We began live classes online through all media. During the early stages of the lockdown, we engaged our audience on social media through various yoga live sessions, meditation sessions and chats with celebrities. We soon launched the SARVA app that hosted free yoga and meditation content for people to practise regularly from their homes. Today the app has goal-based yoga & meditation programmes, featuring SARVA yogis across the globe. Learning from our experience in the past 1.5 years we have grown to become a more focused and goal-based wellness platform. We’re reaching out to people personally with one-on-one personal training where a coach holds them accountable for their progress.
I have always believed that yoga is more than just an hour-long practice. It is a lifestyle. It’s not an “option” to start yoga anymore. The world is struggling today and yoga can bring an improvement in a more PERMANENT way. Yoga is way more powerful and impactful than we know to combat global epidemics like stress, anxiety, depression, sleeplessness, and obesity. Just like every family has a family doctor who knows their medical history and advises the best treatment, I want every family to have a yoga coach who guides them through their wellness journey.
I never would have thought at the age of 17 when I turned to yoga out of curiosity to understand spirituality that today I would be celebrating the 8th anniversary of SARVA. Sometimes it feels surreal to know that SARVA has impacted thousands of lives and has become a medium of their happiness. But then I remember, in the end, everything we do in life is for our quest of happiness. We still have a long way to go and many lives to change.
8 years of connecting 7 billion breaths through yoga with infinite to come.
Love, light and happiness, Sarvesh Shashi
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