Sarvesh Shashi on inspiring youth at finding their own path through mindfulness

Published: Jun 21, 2019, 08:39 IST | Soumil Kamat

Sarvesh Shashi is the nation's youngest CEO in the fitness sector

Sarvesh Shashi on inspiring youth at finding their own path through mindfulness
Sarvesh Shashi

Sarvesh Shashi, founder, and CEO of SARVA- Yoga, Mindfulness and Beyond. In 2013, this reformed yogi started Zorba, which is now SARVA Yoga, India’s largest chain of Yoga studios and went on to become the nation's youngest CEO in the fitness sector, SARVA Yoga is now the largest yoga chain in India with a presence of 91 studios with over 40 locations across India, plans to open a hundred more, with an aim to inspire the youth at finding their own path through mindfulness. We caught up with Sarvesh Shashi to know more about yoga


Why and what inspired you to take up yoga?
Yoga has been an integral part of my life ever since I was a child, but it truly left an impression on me when I turned 17. I like to split my life into two stages - pre and post the age of 17. Before I turned 17, my life can be best described by 3 A's: Arrogance, Anger, and Attitude. But then I took up a yoga class which was meant to be completed by my father, that was the moment that changed my life forever. Change came to me in an extremely unexpected manner. Under the guidance of my Guru, I took up 5 Sadhanas, which seemed out of character for a teenager at the time. These Sadhanas were, No Lying, No mental and physical stealing, No intoxication, non-violence, and celibacy. At 19, along with my sadhanas, I also took up a 40-day active silence exercise which was nothing short of a life-altering experience that helped me engage in solitude that allowed me to be more sensitive to the stimuli around me. Yoga helped me figure "myself" out and defeat the 3A's that dominated my life. I firmly believe that Yoga is not just a workout, it’s a lifestyle.

What is Sarva Yoga about? Tell us about its journey
SARVA - literally means "All" in Sanskrit, and that's what yoga is.. Yoga is a lifestyle for ALL, irrespective of age, caste, gender, orientation, profession, etc. But not everyone practices it. Why ? is the question. It’s probably the absence of accessibility of the right trainers and also the fact that its difficult to find authentic yoga practitioners. That's where the journey began. SARVA started with the aim to bring the authentic benefits of Yoga to ALL. Through SARVA's mission and vision, we strive to make yoga accessible to all sections of people. While the majority of the fitness industry focuses on physical health and fitness SARVA chooses to strike a balance between mental and physical wellness. We truly believe that you need to feel good before you look good. Today, at SARVA, the youngest member is 2 years old whereas the oldest member is 90 years old. The motivation to spread happiness and wellness through yoga, mindfulness and beyond originates from a very personal space for me. Yoga has changed my life, which encourages me to help people recognize that yoga can transform their lives for the better. A fledgling start in 2016 has led to a business that global icons like Jennifer Lopez, Alex Rodriguez, and Malaika Arora have invested in!

What is Zorba? Explain the concept?
Zorba in Greek translates to, ' A person who lives life fully each day'. We learned that our brand name needed to reflect the roots from which we began the journey. And given that India is the birthplace of Yoga, we re-branded ourselves to SARVA. SARVA was earlier known as Zorba. SARVA seemed like an apt change since we've always believed that Yoga is a universal lifestyle. Our mission is to "Connect 7 billion breaths through yoga mindfulness and beyond" that resonates with the inclusion of ALL. SARVA is a lifestyle that goes beyond just the physical aspect of human life, it is meticulously designed to enable a person to transform themselves. We've set out to change the limiting assumptions around YOGA, by diminishing the myths through self-practice!

Also Read: How effective is Yoga at work

Sarvesh Shashi

How does yoga help to transform lifestyle?
Yoga is about breath, it's about the concentration of the mind and its about mindfulness. So, its really everything. That's why we say its a lifestyle. There is Yoga in work, in laughter and in art..along with everything else. Now, when something that is subconscious can be so powerful that it influences your life decisions, visualise its impact when you perform it consciously. Yoga is the harmony of mental and physical aspects. The Physical aspect is the performing of asanas that help you know your body better, how it works, what it needs and what it is capable of. The Mental aspect is the clarity of thought, the groundedness, happiness, living in the moment is what yoga teaches you to do. Yoga is a life-transforming tool that helps you commit to yourself to be happier, healthier and mindful.

What's your view on the current fitness industry in India?
The Fitness Industry in India for the longest time has advocated the physical health and wellness of an individual. With trends like size zero to six packs and everything in between. That being said, I am mindful of the fact that there is a wave of realization amongst the influencers of the industry that fitness is much more than just the physical being, mental health is equally important if not more!

What are your plans for International Yoga Day?
International Yoga Day has had a huge influence on the way people perceive yoga thanks to our Prime Minister Narendra Modi. His tremendous work towards enlightening people and encouraging them to adopt the lifestyle of yoga is commendable. SARVA celebrates Yoga all around the year, however, we are actively working towards making people realise the importance of yoga by carrying out workshops across the 77 locations we are currently operational in, with newer and newer ideas to engage with the community across the country.

What are the yoga Mantras one should keep in mind?
OM- The first sound of the universe. Scientific studies show that chanting OM will bring us into harmonic resonance with the universe

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu- A famous mantra to chant before or after your yoga class. Chanting this mantra will help you dedicate yourself to a life of non-harming and for greater wellness.

Also Read: Period regulation, bearable pregnancy: How Yoga helps a woman

Sarvesh Shashi

How is yoga beneficial for Weight Loss?
Yoga does help in weight loss, and combined with an excellent nutritional diet will be highly effective. Practicing yoga forms such as Ashtanga, Vinyasa, and Power yoga will burn your calories, tone, and stretch your muscles thus toning and sculpting the body. 

Yoga in the morning or yoga in the evening? When is the right time?
The perfect time to practice yoga is the time that works perfectly for you. It's generally believed that you should practice yoga in the early morning or early evening. Both times have its merit, which will help you in your daily practice. Whenever you practice, you should always follow a consistent routine. It’s always better to find the time and method that complements your schedule. Once yoga fits into your schedule, then you'll find more time to understand your inner self.

How do you plan to make yoga cool for youngsters?
I think in a way we've already made Yoga cool for the youngsters. We introduced 25 different forms of Yoga like Basketball Yoga, Danda Yoga, Brick Yoga, Rope Yoga, Paddleboard yoga, Yoga with your dog, Aerial Yoga and more forms which are very appealing to the younger generations out there. Yoga was perceived to be a slow, calming activity that is only for certain sections of the society, but we’ve begun changing that and our average age has dropped from 30 - 45 to 25 -35! Maintaining the core of the traditional yoga, we designed these forms in order to "appeal" to a wider audience. The average age of a SARVA member is 31, which is great because it means we're penetrating the young section of the society making yoga accessible to all. The ultimate goal of SARVA is Connecting seven billion breaths through yoga, mindfulness and beyond.

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