Harriet fell in love with yoga, meditation and pranayama after spending many months of her time in India during recent years. With the loss of her Grandmother, turning thirty and, like so many of us, having led a decadent lifestyle through most of her twenties, it was time to take some time out for herself. She spent 21 days at an Ayurvedic beach retreat in Kerala, South India undergoing intense healing practices and was astounded at the difference in her body and mind after such a short space of time.
She has since continued returning to India each year to learn about natural healing, yoga and meditation and after recently attending one of her life-changing retreats, we grabbed ten minutes with Harriet to discover more about her business “Lift Yourself Retreats.”
What was the catalyst for you to launch your business?
“The London ‘rat race’ had me feeling low on energy, lacking purpose and in need of serious change. After 10 years in Corporate, Central London job roles and a lifetime of concrete jungle living, I learned of Ayurveda, India’s oldest healing science.
I set off on a new adventure and as cliche as it sounds – things just started to feel right. I began encountering a number of synchronicities and for the first time in my life I think I realised that home was a feeling not a place. I had certainly found a new home in Kerala. I was following my intuition each day – I didn’t have a solid plan. Everything about the place felt so familiar to me. Living in harmony with nature. Rising by the sun, meditating and performing breathing exercises (pranayama) followed by yoga and a diet of only the freshest natural ingredients that incorporated healing spices and herbs – all these things totally altered my state of mental and physical health.
I couldn’t believe these simple practices that I was learning for the very first time made such a huge impact and I noted the people around me lived and breathed this way of life. It occurred to me how disconnected from nature I had become and I felt it was my duty to put on an event to share these simple practices with those I knew and loved. I wanted to help prevent them getting sick and remind them of their true nature. Of course, once I had made this decision, everything I needed to make this a reality fell into place. I met a Master of Yoga named Rajendran and we quickly realised we shared the same dream.”
From idea to conception, how long did it take you to get up and running with your first retreat?
“It was 6 months between inviting Raj to teach in the UK and actually making it happen but more like 18 months from actually deciding that it would be something I’d love to do. It took some time for the idea to take shape and for me to figure out exactly what it was I wanted to achieve.”
Where do you see the business in 3 years time?
“I have always been a keen traveller so the dream is to take the retreats to international locations. We have our first retreat outside of the UK happening in June this year. In 3 years time I hope to be conducting 10-12 retreats a year in different geographical locations, some further afield. Raj and I share the same dreams which are to travel and to encourage people to look inside themselves to attain true happiness. So what better way to see the world than to travel and hold retreats at these places?!”
What would be your biggest piece of advice to any person wanting to start their own business or brand?
“Just start! You are never going to feel 100% ready. At first I had an idea to put on a kind of big sleepover and invite Raj to teach all of my family and friends the amazing and traditional Indian techniques he had taught me. That was given a huge push forward when I was contacted by an old friend about the perfect venue. The cost and level of luxury of this place meant that I had to charge a fee per person if I wanted to use it – I didn’t feel ready at all and knew very little about starting a business but with the help of my amazing friends, we did it! Lift Yourself was born.”
What is the greatest piece of advice you have been given so far in your business journey, or in life?
“My Grandfather told me – “Find a job that you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.”
Having spent more than a decade dragging myself to different corporate establishments where the primary focus is on making money and people are secondary to profit, it is such a dream come true to have started this project which was born from a desire to help and heal people.
Working hard for someone else’s dream is called stress. Working hard for your own is called passion.”
What have you found to be the most useful business resources to support you in your personal business journey?
“I have advertised my first 2 retreats to my connections on Facebook and Instagram alone and had no problems filling them but I also consider social media a huge resource from a more personal perspective because it allows me to meet and connect with people all over the world who can help me on this journey. None of this would have been possible without the input and dedication of the incredible people I have around me.”
Was there ever a time when you wanted to ‘duck out’ of starting a business/ experienced a particular difficulty?
“For sure I was full of self-doubt when first looking into making Lift Yourself a business. I was plagued with thoughts of not being qualified enough on paper and concerned that people wouldn’t take me seriously to organise events on health and wellness after the fast-paced unhealthy lifestyle I had led for some years prior to my Indian adventures. But you can never please everyone. I think it’s important to do what feels right for you. Nobody can strike you down on your path if you are following your intuition and you speak from your heart. In some ways, I think those who have experienced such drastic change are the best people to help others make the necessary changes. It becomes a case of ‘If I can do it, you can!'”