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Wellness Industry 2017-01-05

Are you stretching your biz the Yoga way?

As the business becomes bigger, franchising in the Yoga industry has become a trend to make the practice and brand reach every part of not just the country, but also the world.

By Associate Editor
Are you stretching your biz the Yoga way?

The 5000-year-old practice of Yoga is a booming market worldwide today with India holding a small share in this $80 billion industry. This, even as the practice finds its origins in the Vedas in India. However, the industry is now picking up and is worth over Rs 490 billion in India.

The age-old tradition is now a lifestyle that attracts millions of consumers across the world. As India begins to move away from the machine methods of fitness and looks for natural avenues, Yoga is fast emerging as the biggest avenue of opportunities for entrepreneurs looking for growth.

As the business becomes bigger, franchising in the Yoga industry has become a trend to make the practice and brand reach every part of not just the country, but also the world.

Franchising: the growth mantra

Evaluating the growth potential that Yoga holds, players in this segment are opening themselves to the idea of franchising aggressively. “Franchising keeps the cost of acquisition and the cost of investment low. It offers tremendous opportunity to become entrepreneur especially for women. 80 percent of the yoga practitioners are women in India. The speed of growth if executed right is much higher,” says Yashwant Saran, Founder & M.D, 136.1 Yoga.

The 136.1 Yoga Studio was started way back in 2010. In 2015, Saran realized the potential for growth in this sector and called out for franchisees. Today, the yoga studio has its brand established in Chennai, Ahmedabad, Coimbatore and even overseas. With a vision to grow across India, Saran explains the support his brand extends to franchisees.

“We take care of everything from start to finish. We provide the teachers and manage the studio. There will be eight to ten teachers out of which 3-4 will be from abroad. And the rest will be local. The location is always decided by us. So, once we find out the location, we rollout the execution plan. Step one – selection of teachers, training the teachers, staff training. Step 2 – construction of the studio. We select the design and leave the execution part to the franchisor. We are very particular about the look and feel of the studio. Step-3 – We start the pre-sale marketing and social media marketing. We educate the partner about the demographic and typographic of the target customers as a part of the training. Then after the launch of the studio, we focus on the day to day operation of the studio,” he says.

A similar growth story is that of Zorba: A Renaissance Studio. The yoga studio was set up in 2013 and started franchising in 2014. There are now 20 studios under the label and many more coming up in the near future. “In every city, we are looking for people who could run the show, predominantly in the southern cities that I am, I take it up. I’m not too strong in Delhi, so I look for a like-minded partner who could take up the task. The reason for franchising is that more the people and experience, the better you can run your company. But I’m sure it has its own pros and cons,” says 24-year-old Sarvesh Shashi, the CEO of Zorba: A Renaissance Studio.

Sarvesh took a loan of Rs 5 lakhs which went on to become 17.5 lakh at that time for starting his Yoga studio. I also took help from my dad and started Zorba at Mount Road in Chennai. His approach to making his brand of Yoga is one to learn from. “The mindset of people in India is that Yoga means meditation and Surya Namaskar. Yoga means unity of mind and body. If I say hatha yoga to people, they might not come. So I had to commercialise yoga in a way that would be exciting to them. It was important to break the typos in order to get the people to come for yoga classes. You need a lot of innovation otherwise no industry will survive. So we have introduced aqua yoga, paddle yoga. So once people have good experience out of it and they came to know that what they are doing is yoga, they started doing the regular yoga,” he says.

The different avenues

Besides conducting Yoga sessions, educating Yoga professionals is another lucrative growth area. According to an ASSOCHAM study, the demand for Yoga instructors is going to grow by 30-35 per cent in the next couple of years.

Yoga schools like Chaitanya Yoga Foundation and Arhanta Yoga are making the most out of this opportunity spreading their brand across India and the world. Arhanta Yoga, that comes from the Netherlands, has its franchise in India and looks to spread across the country, producing Yoga professionals to fill the required gap.

The Indian government too has taken up the task of educating Yoga professionals and looks to produce over 50,000 professionals over the next few years through the Ministry of AYUSH. While India promotes Yoga with the International Day of Yoga becoming a worldwide event, the World Health Organisation is also working to incorporate Yoga into universal healthcare. “Yoga has a very prominent place in the holistic approach through prevention and control of health disorders,” says Nata Menabde, Executive Director, WHO office to the UN. “The ancient vedic gift of India to the world, needs to be studied and supported by scientific evidence and then incorporated in to the approaches to universal healthcare,” she adds.

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