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3 world- records holders and an International Yoga trainer, Dr. Sandeep Dongre is the co-founder of The Ashtanga Institute of Yoga and Naturopathy Centre based in Mumbai. Leaving a plush job with a multinational company abroad, he came to India with the objective to spread awareness and help people lead a healthier lifestyle.
Dr. Dongre’s journey in his own words…
I have worked in corporates for 20+ years in India and 15 other countries so I have spent a lot of time working with multinational companies abroad in the IT sector. That’s my background, but sometimes 10 years back I faced a certain health challenge and it was cured through yoga. That is when I thought if this worked for me why shouldn’t this work for others and that is when I decided to get into yoga. I started by doing small 1-month courses in yoga alongside my job. I completed my Masters in yoga then did my Ph.D. in yoga and the journey still continues. A lot of learning and teaching is still going on. Around 3 years back I decided its time that I leave the job and get into this social cause. Given the current situation, the pandemic, people have realized the best solution to health issues are natural remedies. Due to Covid-19 people avoid going to the hospitals and are relying on natural home remedies. People have started to realize the importance of yoga and naturopathy. Yoga is almost 5-6 thousand years old and naturopathy is as old as humankind.
I have 3 world records in pranayama, in Kapal Bharti i.e fastest Kapal Bharti and longest Kapal Bharti it was two and half hours of continuous Kapal Bharti. And during Covid, I set one other world record for fastest Suryabhedan pranayama. There’s an interesting fact that very few people are aware of which is that all world records are set with an objective. My objective is to raise awareness, “If I can do, you can do as well”.
KYE: What was the motivation behind starting the Asthanga Institute?
Dr. Dongre: Having worked with various multinational companies in various countries, I observed so many people at the relatively young age of 35-40 who had heart problems and back issues even diabetes. It was all due to the wrong lifestyle and bad food habits mainly. I saw a huge gap between the modern-day solutions and the problems that we had at hand. That’s when I thought why not provide low-cost solutions which have originated from our country. I wanted to make a difference in society and bring about a change by making people aware of health and natural treatments. I am myself into some higher practices of spirituality and wanted to share those practices as well.
KYE: What about this field gives you a sense of accomplishment?
Dr. Dongre: Customer satisfaction. When our customers get cured of their chronic or acute ailments. When they tell us how 6-8 months of allopathy hasn’t helped them but trying naturopathy gives them relief in half the time and all they need to do for it is consume natural items, that gives us a sense of accomplishment. Not only the people living in Mumbai but those living in other states also reach out to us and that makes us feel like we are closer to our goal. Before Covid, no one believed in taking online yoga classes. But now we have people living not just in India but all around the globe signing up for our online yoga courses. Going online has definitely helped us widen our scope of work.
KYE: What were the challenges/obstacles you faced?
Dr. Dongre: When one leaves a plush job and ventures into the unknown territory it is difficult to convince your family. To my surprise, my family was very supportive of my decision to take this leap. My friends and my colleagues were a Lil hesitant and tried to warn me against taking the leap. Obviously starting out in this field I knew I couldn’t expect to get higher revenues from the start and such other worries, there definitely were mental blocks but nothing that was going to stop me.
KYE: What are the factors that you think are required to reach your business aspirations?
Dr. Dongre: Seeing yoga as a business sounds a bit weird but we all know the man who proved that one can make a good business out of it. Any business needs some specialization and some niche service areas. Currently, having a niche in our services and offerings will definitely help us achieve our business aspirations.
KYE: How has this venture changed you as a person?
Dr. Dongre: If we pay close attention, we will realize that a huge part of the working class is faced with a lot of stress and unexpected health conditions. Young people have heart problems or pregnancy-related issues at the age of 27-28. That is just an indication that you’re are pushing yourself too much. Everyone is running behind money and their health is being left unattended. That just makes me filled with gratitude that I practice yoga on a daily basis and that helps me keep my health in check. So I want to share this knowledge with everyone out there.
KYE: What are your Words of Wisdom for the budding entrepreneurs out there?
Dr. Dongre: I have several points to say about this:
Everyone should follow their passion, that doesn’t necessarily mean you make a business out of it. You can always follow your passion alongside your day-job as well.
Take risks. Get out of your comfort zone. It’s important. You can’t achieve greatness by sitting in your comfort zone.
Be prepared to grind in the initial years. Nothing worth having comes easy.
Always practice what you preach.
Take baby steps. One step at a time. Go slow and steady.
Don’t be disheartened by the set-backs, there will be several. Pick yourself up dust yourself off.
There will be competition, try to develop your own niche and do your best at it.