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The oldest fitness regime in the world is getting hot and hotter, with a career as a yoga instructor a lucrative option today. Joydeepa Sarma reports

education Updated: May 23, 2012 11:36 IST
Joydeepa Sarma

Namrata Singh’s day is quite different from those of others her age. Instead of planning which movies to go to for which malls to hang out in, Singh plans out her days according to how many clients she has to visit to teach yoga. At 23, she is already a year old as a yoga instructor, and doing quite well too. Although she wanted to work in the media initially, Singh decided to take up yoga as a profession after she realised its benefits. “I did a course in yoga and started practising it, and realised that it cured certain problems I was suffering from, such as sinusitis. I also lost weight and became fit. That was when I decided to take this up as a profession and help other people to gain through yoga,” she says.

Different kinds of yoga
This Lonavla girl is not new to yoga though. With her father being a yoga instructor at Lonavla, she was always exposed to traditional yoga at home. After shifting to Mumbai to study at SNDT Women’s University, Singh took courses in other kinds of yoga, including power yoga. “In Mumbai people tend to opt for power yoga or a combination of different kinds,” she observed. After practising for a month as a trainee at a yoga centre in Mumbai, Singh decided to go independent and started building a client base and opted for personal training. Today she handles a wide variety of clients, helping them cure various ailments through yoga. Singh takes care of heart patients, diabetics, people suffering from migrane, backaches, pregnant women and people who want to lose weight and stay fit the natural way. “In Mumbai a lot of people also suffer from high levels of mental stress, and I get calls from a number of such clients. Yoga can be really helpful in such cases,” she adds. She has had a number of successful cases too. “There was a girl in Lokhandwala who was able to reduce her weight by a few kgs in 15 days without any side effects. Also, heart patients have told me that they have benefited a lot by practising yoga,” says Singh. This young trainer seems to be quite in demand, and there are times when she has too many clients to take on. “If I cannot make time for clients, I refer them to other trainers I know,” she says.

A win-win career
Apart from her regular clients, Singh had the opportunity to cater to celebrities too. “I got the chance to conduct a few sessions for Katrina Kaif, although I am not her regular trainer,” she says. Apart from this, Singh has also handled corporate clients such as Hyper City, where she took sessions on stress management for a group of sales managers from the organisation. Asked about any difficulties in the profession, Singh says, “As a yoga instructor you can only gain. I don’t think there are any negatives.” Not surprising then, that she intends to stick to her career as a yoga instructor.

The practice of yoga has been prevailing in India for several centuries though as a career option it has become more popular in the recent past due to its curative powers. Yoga helps achieve a high standard of health and concentrates on the emotional and psychological well-being of a person, keeping him/her physically fit. Medical science has acknowledged the curative powers of yoga. Today, health-conscious youngsters are turning to yoga. Tough times such as now are leading to unprecedented increase in stress levels, so yoga schools are doing well. This is probably why the demand for qualified yoga therapists is rising and courses are being offered to meet the demand. Many yoga institutions operate across the country, offering various courses and degrees in yoga therapy. Yoga can offer two major career options, one in the field of research and training and another as a yoga therapist

5 am: Get up
6 am: Start classes
Around 12.30 pm: Finish classes
12.30-1 pm: Lunch
1.30 pm: Take a nap of two hours
4 pm: Go for classes
By 6 pm: Over with classes
6-9 pm: Do pranayam; go for temple visits, etc
11-11.30 pm: Retire to bed

If you are an independent yoga instructor, your earnings will depend on factors such as the number of clients you have, your fees and how many clients you teach per day. The minimum charges are around Rs 400-Rs 500 per session (at least Rs 20,000 a month) for beginners. Middle-level professionals make around Rs 40,000-Rs 50,000 a month, while senior instructors who do it full time can earn almost Rs 1 lakh per month

n A genuine interest in the profession
n Professional training from a good institute
n Strong will-power
n Good stamina
n Correct knowledge about whatever you are teaching nMistakes can be harmful for the client’s health and well-being

How do i get there?
Professional training is mandatory for yoga instructors. You can take up a course after completing class X or XII, or even start earlier. But doing a proper training programme from a good institute is essential, as a yoga instructor cannot afford to not be good at his/her job.

Institutes & urls

n Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga, New Delhi
n Yogalife, New Delhi
n Bihar Yoga Bharati
n Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres, worldwide
n Central Council For Research in Yoga and Naturopathy, Delhi
n Indian Instt of Yoga and Naturopathy, New Delhi
n The Yoga Institute, Mumbai
n Kaivalyadhama Yoga Institute, Lonavla
n SVYASA University, Bangalore
n Yoga Vidya Gurukul, Nasik.

Pros & Cons

n Less work pressure
n Flexible working hours if you are a freelancer
n You can keep fit and earn at the same time
n Fluctuating income
n As it is completely physical work, it can get tiring and strenuous if proper care is not taken

Teaching yoga is a noble profession

Money should not be the prime mover; serving society must be

Hansaji Jayadeva, Director, The Yoga Institute (Santacruz, Mumbai), has been into yoga since her early childhood days. She talks to HT Horizons about the growing interest in this form of exercise and a career as a yoga instructor:

How has the experience of being a yoga teacher been?
Teaching yoga is a very noble profession, where people come to you with problems at various levels — physical, psychological and so on. To be able to heal them or provide solutions for them and guide them is the instructor’s motive.

Therefore, I would say that it is a very fulfilling profession as it deals with human life itself. It is very satisfactory to watch someone who came to you with problems become confident and self-reliant by practising yoga.

How easy is it to find a job as a yoga instructor today?
Today, there are a number of avenues for yoga instructors. As the world is waking up to the powers of yoga, instructors can find employment in a variety of sectors, as trainers or counsellors in schools and colleges, at therapy centres, in hospitals and so on.

Any drawbacks of being in the profession full time?
I do not see any drawbacks at all. However, like in any other profession, a yoga instructor, too, should take care not to stretch his/her working hours. We advise them to work for not more than 8-10 hours a day, as it is important to spend time with yourself and the family, and take care of one’s other duties as well.

Are youngsters today more interested in taking up yoga seriously?
Yes, definitely. Today, as finding jobs is not a problem, it attracts even more youngsters. For them, it is an added feather in their cap. Plus, they can earn and keep fit too. However, there is definitely more awareness about yoga among youngsters today and they want to take it up seriously.

What would your advice be to people who want to join this field?
I feel that every human being should learn yoga and benefit from it. If somebody wants to go on and become an instructor, he or she can do so. However, one should not try to commercialise the profession. It’s always better to teach yoga with the purpose of serving people and society at large, and not simply with the motive of earning money.

Interviewed by Joydeepa Sarma