Labelled the ‘wellness generation,’ because of their focus on working out and clean eating; millennials, those between the ages of 25 to 40, are veering towards yoga, not only as an aspect of physical exercise, but also holistic well-being. Being the working, earning generation, they shape trends worldwide.
LuxeBook is in conversation with four millennial yoga experts to understand their yoga journey and what attracts the younger generation to this ancient Indian philosophy.
Reema Vengurlekar, 30, the founder of yoga shala, PRANA, started her journey at 21, when yoga was not that popular amongst her age group. People asked “Why yoga? Let’s go to the gym instead.” An Ashtanga yoga expert, Vengurlekar says over the years she has definitely seen an increase in youngsters you who want to practice the Ashtanga form of yoga. Though it is intensive and traditional, she says that’s what millennials are attracted to, the physical aspect of yoga. “If they can perform one complex asana gracefully, like a handstand or a headstand then there is a boost of confidence and the drive to do more,” says Vengurlekar. Millennials also like to share their journey, posting photos of their asanas on social media, for people to like and comment on; “It’s part of the attraction to yoga” says Vengurlekar.
Vengurlekar stresses on the jump yoga has seen more specifically in India. Paloma Gangopadhyay, 31-year-old Mumbai-based celebrity yoga expert agrees, having started her yoga journey outside India she points out that yoga has always been in vogue outside the country. Having taught in the West, Gangopadhyay shares that in her New York studio personalities like Lady Gaga, Hollywood producers, actors, actresses used to come for yoga. Whereas when she started teaching in India six years ago, the youth was largely interested in going to the gym. “I would see youngsters come in and I would say ‘wow, you’re coming in for yoga’ they would say ‘no I’m not interested for myself, I want my parents to come,’ says Gangopadhyay. She says that this huge mindset gap in India, has been changing over the past two and a half years.
Gangopadhyay credits the government for giving yoga a bigger push. She says, “I believe when a specific workout pattern gets a boost from the govt it comes into the public limelight.” The pandemic has also pulled people towards yoga, as one can even sit at home, and practice it, and it also helps in increasing immunity. Anushka Nandani, 29, co-founder at online fitness destination, The Tribe, says that the importance of mindfulness in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, means that more millennials are embracing yoga. “They realise the practice of yoga not only works as an effective stress buster, but also helps maintain a work- life balance,” says Nandani. She says it helps establish a strong connect between the body and the mind which in turn boosts productivity at work and improving quality of life.
Sarvesh Shashi, 29, founder of SARVA, a 100% digital, one-stop yoga-based wellness platform says, about 67 per cent of his demographic comes to the SARVA app platform to lose weight; but end up staying on because of the lifestyle changes they witness. “They’re sleeping well, feeling more energetic, and becoming calmer. The entry point may be something else, but the reason they stay is completely different,” says Shashi.
Vengurlekar says she is a changed person from what she was when she first started practicing. Her advice to millennials is, “Asanas are only one part of yoga; yoga is the combination of mind body and soul, but to feel that connection you have to give it time, energy, be patient, and regular with your practice.”
Millennial Instructor’s Personal Journeys
Sarvesh Shashi, Founder, SARVA
Sarvesh Shashi, 29, founder, SARVA, a 100% digital, one-stop yoga-based wellness platform, treats yoga as a lifestyle, not just exercise. Sharing his journey, Shashi says, “I divide my life into two parts, one is before I turned 17 and one is after.” Coming from a well-to-do family, he describes his early years as a young boy too familiar with the four As, attitude, arrogance, anger and anxiety. Though he started yoga at the age of 6, it was only when he met his guru at 17 that Shashi was inspired to adopt yoga as a lifestyle. This lifestyle change included 9-hour long meditations, a vow of silence for 40 days and promises of celibacy, non-intoxication, non-violence in thoughts, actions, words and truthfulness. At 21, Shashi founded Sarva with the intention to change people’s lives the way yoga changed his. “In India, there are 500 million people below the age of 35. Self-anxiety, depression, obesity are becoming a global epidemic. I genuinely thought yoga could be a catalyst in their lives,” says Shashi. His platform teaches 25 forms of yoga, 122 types of meditation, 14 types of breathwork and pranayamas to help achieve people one goal, holistic wellness. His platform’s age demographic is between 21-30, which is what has always been his target age group.
Paloma Gangopadhyay, celebrity yoga instructor
Paloma Gangopadhyay, 31, began her tryst with yoga at the age of six, when her mom took her to a traditional yoga shala in her hometown, Calcutta. Blessed with an extremely flexible spine, Gangopadhyay stood second in the Aurobindo Yoga Championship at the age of nine, but never considered yoga as a profession. Only when she moved to the US to study at the Harvard Medical School, did her love for yoga finally push her to turn into a full-time career. She then started training in classical hatha yoga, vinyasa yoga, hot yoga, did a self-realisation fellowship in San Francisco, and her yoga teacher training from LA. Gangopadhyay has taught in Los Angeles, New York, Boston, LA, Singapore and even Thailand. She moved back to India about six years ago and started own studio.
Reema Vengurlekar, Founder, PRANA, yoga shala
Reema Vengurlekar, 30, left her Public Relations job at 21 and decided to teach yoga. She started her journey in 2010 when she began teaching hatha yoga. Her clients were mostly senior citizens with different health issues.
To help her practice, a friend suggested that she learn Ashtanga Yoga. “I still remember my first day at my teacher’s Ashtanga Yoga Shala, I was hooked.” This was in 2015, and Vengurlekar has been practising and teaching Ashtanga since the past six years, founding her own yoga shala, called PRANA.