Silky Agarwal: Keeping your dream alive

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Silky is a yoga teacher and entrepreneur from Mumbai. She started The Yoga Mile about a year ago.

I interviewed Silky to get some insights into her yoga journey so far, why she started teaching yoga, why she opened up her own yoga center, why its called "The Yoga Mile", the challenges she faces and how she overcomes them.

After the interview, I was thrilled to have made a new friend. Someone who I believe cares deeply about the craft of yoga and wants to spread it far and wide.

[Disclaimer: The Yoga Mile is a customer of our CRM product.]

Early life

Silky hails from Calcutta. While growing up there, she watched her family members practicing yoga regularly. So she got her initial lessons from them and started her own practice while still very young.

As with most early stage practitioners and certainly as a child, it was the various asanas & shatkriyas that lured her into yoga. 

Did her parents push her to practice? “Not at all!”, was her response.

I enjoyed it so much, that practicing was never a chore for me. I infact looked forward to it every day.

So, when did the practice start to go from being fun to something more serious? When did the meditation sessions begin?

Meditation

She wasn’t sure what meditation was. But somehow found herself increasingly attracted to it. And then started experimenting with it.

When I was in my 11th or 12th grade, I had this urge to meditate. I would get up at 4:30AM, climb up to the terrace of my home - and just sit down to watch my breath.

Everyone at home was still fast asleep - so she had enough time to practice in complete silence.

[When she told me this, I briefly asked myself what I was doing in the 11th grade. Suffice it to say, that it was better to focus on what Silky was saying ;-)]

MBA

We fast forwarded a few years to her post-graduation college days - when she was pursuing a masters in business.

Did she feel tempted to pause/postpone her practice during her MBA days?

Not at all. I would always start my day with my practice - mostly in the temple courtyard of our hostel. Nothing ever got in the way of my practice - whether that was exams or assignments.

She continued - "When you enjoy something so deeply, you automatically make that a priority. And that was the case with me as well."

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Yoga as a career

Here’s one of the standard assignments given to an MBA student:

"Write the business plan for a venture that you might like to start someday."

While Silky could have chosen any type business for this assignment, she opted for this: “A yoga centre where people from various backgrounds could come in to learn & practice yoga.”

I had never considered pursuing yoga as a career option. But then, I thought: “Why not?”

What better way to earn my living than doing what I already love doing?

She had already seen yoga centers coming up all over the place by this time. So it didn’t seem that risky or "altogether crazy either".

And that was the seed for The Yoga Mile. The idea that she would one day venture out on her own to set up her business in a space that she was already in love with - that idea started to grow in her mind.

Corporate life

So..what was the very next step? She had now graduated, the business plan was now ready and she knew exactly what she needed to do to set up her business.

But..she needed money to get started. And then, there was the MBA student loan to pay off. She decided to park her dream for a while - until she had made some money first and paid off her loans.

So, soon after her masters, she started her career at a software company to lead their marketing department.

It took me almost 10 months of working there before I started to realize that my dream was starting to fade away.

I had neither saved much money nor had I started to pay off my student debt.

Reviving the dream

That was when her husband asked her some tough questions: “Why are you not moving forward with your dream? When are you going to start paying off your student loan?”

That was the push Silky needed to get back on track. She started to cut down on eating out and buying things she didn’t need. And the loan eventually got paid off in 16 months after that.

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The Yoga Institute

So, what was the next step? To deepen her academic and functional knowledge of yoga. She began researching various teacher’s training courses.

She could have chosen the RYT 200 or RYT 500 - offered by a number of teacher’s training centres in Mumbai. But Silky wanted to go further and signed up for a 900 hours course at the 100 year old Yoga Institute in Mumbai.

The course was on weekends - and thus started a her 7 day weeks for the next 2 years. 5 days at the office and the weekends at the institute.

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I joined “The Yoga Institute” to get deeper into the yogic scriptures. Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, the Bhagavad Gita itself, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika and others.

This helped me go back to the “source”. And created a strong foundation that I could build my teaching career on.

She also got a lot of "functional knowledge", that gave her the confidence that she could instruct "yoga in a safe way" to her students.

The Yoga Mile

4.5 years after her masters in business: With the student loans out of the way, some starting capital in hand and a graduation certificate from a well known teacher’s training institute - Silky was finally ready to launch her business.

I called it The Yoga Mile. We all have various legs/phases/miles in our journey of life. One of those phases is what I call the Yoga Mile. Its when we get a calling to awaken, become more conscious.

She continued:

“I realize that not everyone is spiritually inclined initially. We welcome everyone - whether you’re starting yoga because of a back pain issue or hormonal imbalance or want to lose weight. When they continue to practice yoga, at some point our customers forget why they came to us in the first place - because they’re present and happy both on and off the mat.”

“And you know what’s amazing? The original problems that they come to me with? Those start to disappear as well.”

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It is the mind that is both the cause and the solution for all problems. When the mind is given the attention it deserves, by practicing stillness and focusing on the breath - we start to feel better in our bodies as well.

That is when our customers have started on their Yoga Mile

Challenges

Does all this mean that there are no challenges? And that every customer who enquires or signs up at the Yoga Mile endures through the process to see results.

“Not at all. Many of our customers have deeply conditioned old habits - that they have gained over many years. And as a result, some of them have severe health problems as well. Including in one case, a very bad kidney disorder resulting in the need for a kidney transplant.”

You might think that that a kidney transplant would have jolted the customer into better habits...but..

"But the sad fact is that they continue to be guided by old harmful habits. There’s only so much we can do. We can only act as a helping hand, the actual steps have to be taken by the practitioners themselves.”

Looking ahead

Silky’s own Yoga Mile started when she was very young. I was inspired by the fact that she’s now keen on helping everyone else start on their own Yoga Miles.

The Yoga Mile is now located at 3 centers in Mumbai.

Don’t wait to be successful at some future point. Have a successful relationship with the present moment and be fully present in whatever you are doing. That is success. - Eckhart Tolle

After my interview with Silky, I felt she was definitely one of the more “present” people I have met. From all of us here at Good Karma, we wish her and The Yoga Mile all success.

How to contact Silky

Silky’s Good Karma bio

The Yoga Mile

Bonus link: The Yoga Institute [Where Silky did her 2 year TTC]

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About Good Karma

We help yoga centers and freelancers grow their business . So you can get more customers, get paid faster and have more freedom teach yoga.

Learn more at GoodKarmaYoga.in.