Shruti I want to wind back to when you first left education. Did you go to University?
Yes. I studied Fine Art and the History of Art from Goldsmiths, and graduated back in 2001 so nearly 20 odd years ago now! I also completed an MA in Advertising and the Creative Economy at Kingston University after I broke my leg in 2012.
So what pulled you when you first finished? Did you have a clear ambition for what you wanted to do professionally?
Well, friends and loved ones often described me as a bit of chameleon; that I can do anything I put my mind to, which obviously keeps things pretty open when it comes to a dream life focus. My art degree taught me to be really resourceful – we’d have to stand up and pitch our artwork, and I remember attending a crit once early on where someone had presented a painting and the lecturer Michael Craig-Martin said “That’s all well and good, but why paint?”. I think from that moment, I would always ask myself “why am I doing what I’m doing?” I was also really into spirituality and holistic health and I don’t think it was a coincidence that my first job out of University was with Elemis, a spa therapy brand. But like many, I then fell into recruitment a few years later.
Did I know what my career would look like? On the one hand, I’ve always wanted to set up a business and long been passionate about the whole wellness space. But then on the other hand, I followed my head and ended up as a headhunter in the city.
I think from that moment, I would always ask myself “why am I doing what I’m doing?”
So when did yoga first come into your life?
From about the age of eight, I can remember my Mum practising Hatha yoga every morning. She’d repeat the same series of postures daily, twisting, turning and breathing and I’d often join her. We’d go to India most summers where I’d spend hours with my grandmother, who every morning would ritually chant Hindu mantras and listen to the Ramayana. I would find such solace in watching her, and silently repeating the mantras under my breath.
I rediscovered yoga after my Mum died. I went on my first yoga retreat with a fab teacher called Liza Lilintahl and although it was an intense experience, it really healed me. That was 2010, and after then up until this year, I’d been practising regularly in-studio as well as going on retreats. Then in 2012 I injured my leg in a skiing accident and a subsequent fall – I broke three bones and I couldn’t walk. I had three operations that year and was in a wheelchair from May to September.
In January 2013, I rejoined the local hot studio and would go there, try and practice but just cry. I couldn’t even bend my leg and it had gotten so stiff. I hadn’t stood on it for a year. But millimeter by millimeter and thanks to all the fab teachers there and my physio, I got my range of movement back and I slowly slowly started to heal.
“I couldn’t even bend my leg… I hadn’t stood on it for a year. But millimeter by millimeter… I got my range of movement back”
Wow. So since then it’s always been a part of your life. Was it ever something that you thought that you’d want to pursue professionally?
I suppose there’s two sides to my journey. I’d got really into hot yoga before the accident, and was thinking about doing yoga teacher training then. When I fell skiing, I remember being in the body bag coming down the mountain and all I could think was “please let me be able to do yoga again”. Even to this day I can’t kneel down fully, so to get from there to completing teacher training this year in January, felt like such an achievement.
And actually having that teacher training is a brilliant foundation for what you’ve gone on to do with Yoga Mapp, because you understand the teacher mindset so well. What was the process from there to launching in August?
Yes, very much so. We all have our own personal yoga journey. I’ve been working in recruitment now for 15 years and whilst I love connecting people, the job is full on and can be stressful. With work alongside other life stresses, yoga retreats had become my way to recover from burnout.
I’d been thinking about the feasibility of a startup in the yoga industry using my business skills and kept toying with the idea. Then, while I was on yoga teacher training, the same thought popped up and one morning after having a cup of chai in the jungle in Goa [sounds awful!], I said to one of the other yoga students, Lara, “I’ve got this idea”.
Fast forward to lockdown and all my teachers from around the world started sharing their classes on Zoom. Initially, every Sunday, I’d get out a pad and paper and it would take between three and four hours to work out a schedule for the week so that I could support all the teachers I’d practised with. I set up Yoga Mapp’s Instagram account and dropped them a line to ask if I could share their classes and everyone was grateful for the support. Friends and people outside my network started asking how they could book classes.
That was the inspiration for Lara (also a UI/UX developer) and I to develop my idea into something more tangible. We launched Yoga Mapp 60 days later.
The Universe was aligning for you! OK, Shruti do you have any favourite quotes?
Lalah Delia is an amazing spiritual writer, practitioner and wellness educator that I’ve been following for a while on socials and I love the following quote, which really resonates with my journey:
“May all you’ve been through be reused for a higher purpose”
It’s always nice to feel that any challenge you’re going through might be in some way the next thing that you need to address or connect to something positive coming.
Do you have any favourite books?
Yes, I’ve got three recent recommends. They would be:
The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma – a self-help book about a lawyer in spiritual crisis.
Then, Dear Female Founder by Lu li – it’s 66 founders telling us how to kick ass by amazing entrepreneurs from around the world.
And then the final one, is The Kindness Method by Shahroo Izadi – an inspiring approach to changing our habits and beliefs.
Fabulous, they will be added to our shared library! Who are some female founders that inspire you?
There’s two and I met them both at the same time. They are Vivienne Westwood and Deborah Meaden, and I was lucky enough to pitch to them a few years ago. I’ve always been so inspired by Vivienne Westwood because of her creativity but also her activism and her campaigning. As for Deborah Meaden, I just think she’s an inspiring entrepreneur for what she’s achieved and how she’s done it. She is actually lovely in person as well.
To find out more about Yoga Mapp and to book a class, head to yogamapp.com
Or follow Yoga Mapp on Instagram: @yoga_mapp
At yoga teacher training, we had to teach a class and I found this really lovely poem about knees. I read out an excerpt at the beginning and the end of class, and just broke down at the end. Most of the students were crying as well. The feedback from my teacher was that “Shruti you can help inspire with your story.” So here I am…
Taken from Lili Townsend’s Ode to a Chronic Pain
Ode to a Chronic Pain
Let me be
With my knee
What my knee
Has to say.
Plenty, I suspect.
Could it be ego?
Could it be pride?
A false sense of ego
Taking me for a ride?
Then – on your knees, folks
For we are all one.
Each one unique
And that’s the fun
Let me be with my knee
And see, what my knee has to say.
It’s calm, quiet and silent
Knee, you’re my teacher,
Who would have thought?
So many things have you
So, bless you knee,
What a joy to be free!
I love you
And know that’s the key.