‘I quit my high-paying bank job to teach yoga’


In 2017, after his high-powered, high-income corporate job damaged his health, London-based Puravi Joshi quit. After some time away, she retrained as a yoga, meditation and breathing teacher.

For anyone considering a dramatic career change or looking for self-employment this January—generally the most popular time for new job searches and new career thoughts—here’s what you’ll want to know ahead of time.

It is 4 pm on a gloomy Monday afternoon in January. The sun has set, but my view through the London Trafalgar Square office window is lit by the lights of the shops. I pause from my work and absently watch the tourists having the time of their lives for a moment.

The interior scene is somewhat different. I stare at my multiple computer screens, eyes still watery with the remnants of intense hyperventilation and the feeling of overwhelming anxiety that I now understand was my first panic attack.

After finishing university, my dream was to get a job at an investment management firm – the apparent “holy grail” for a math, finance and economics college major. When I finally got there at age 25 after four years at an investment bank, it felt good. I was proud of myself and loved every aspect of my job. Back then you could have called me your millennial textbook materialist, a hardliner Gossip Girl fanatic who had completely absorbed the ‘work hard, drink expensive cocktails’ mentality. I thrived under that pressure. I was in my element.

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However, after an incredibly stressful year, my health began to suffer tremendously; migraines, more panic attacks, and endless nights of little to no sleep. I realized that instead of being in my dream job, I was actually in an environment that was hurting my well-being, a reality amplified by the alienation I felt from being one of the few women in the office, and also a person of color Things ended so badly that I ended up quitting abruptly, with no plan ahead. If, like me, you have a ‘type A’ personality, you’ll know how wild this was.

‘My health began to suffer tremendously’

Lucky enough to have savings from my time earning a high salary, instead of hunting for a new corporate job, I booked a one-way ticket to Australia and, at 29, took the gap year I never allowed myself. . have when I was younger. In my travels, I ended up in Cambodia, where I spent time in a Buddhist temple that had daily meditation led by the resident monks. It was in that temple that I decided that my next step would be to do something that would nurture my mental well-being, and the idea of ​​training to be a yoga teacher was born.

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Even though I was very lost in what I was doing with life, I was able to take a step back from the rat race and discover my true values. What did you really want? Looking back, I feel very lucky to have had this experience, and I’m incredibly aware that it’s a privilege not many get the chance to enjoy. I ended up doing my teacher training in Costa Rica before finally moving on to London.

Upon my return, reality collapsed. My aimless days were officially over, and now I was dealing with the realization that enjoying a bank account full of disposable income was no more. In fact, he had no income at all.

Truth be told, prior to teacher training, yoga was never in my plan, although the practice has its roots in my upbringing in an Indian home where yoga and Ayurveda, a traditional Indian medical system, were integrated into my day. a day.

But now I had two options: return to the financial industry or make use of my Central American background and try to be a yoga teacher. I decided to give myself six months to make it work. If I couldn’t, I would have to go back to the industry that harmed my health.

“I decided to give myself six months to make it work”

At this stage, I thought it would be easy: ‘I’m Indian, yoga comes from India, it won’t be hard to get a class somewhere to get me started’ was my optimistic belief. Boy how wrong was I. When I ‘auditioned’ to teach spaces as a new teacher, it was a flurry of ‘you must have five years of experience to teach with us’, ‘your thighs are too thick, you’ll never be an advanced yogi’ (really), ‘no you fit our aesthetic’, and even ‘you don’t have enough followers on Instagram’.

It was incredible. My complexion and social media prowess were being used against me, which surely had nothing to do with my aptitude as a teacher. I quickly realized that some aspects of the world of wellness were not right.

It took me a week to wallow in self-pity until I was ready to try again. I found a Facebook group for yoga teachers who needed coverage for their classes. Slowly but surely, I began to create a teaching schedule. Classes were coming, but with pay of around £30 each, including my travel, planning and teaching, I wasn’t even making minimum wage when my time was split. I also lost my social life: I was teaching when my friends were meeting for dinner. Professionally, I was a one-woman band. There were quite a few times where I cried, looked for corporate jobs, got the job, but found that something deep in my gut just wouldn’t let me accept it.

‘Slowly but surely I started to create a teaching schedule’

However, things began to improve, inch by inch. After a few months I slowly became the kids yoga teacher in my area. I was teaching at a few schools and day care centers and got involved with a charity that supported teenagers from disadvantaged backgrounds. I loved being able to give back in this way. I had finally found my purpose.

During 2020, things changed. During repeated lockdowns, online teaching became the norm, and I found that my weekly ‘Sunday Sessions’ digital classes were having a bit of a following. This had a ripple effect: Studio owners began offering me classes in yoga, breath work, and meditation instead of asking me to audition.

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I finally found peace of mind and my place in the industry. After three years of soul-searching, I have thankfully regained my social life and now have yoga teacher friends who give me a real sense of support and community. Most importantly, I have the freedom to choose where I teach, which means spaces where diversity and inclusion are ingrained in their ethos and they value me for who I am.

Look, I want to be honest. Changing careers isn’t easy and the reality is certainly not as glamorous as the squares on Instagram may seem. Of course, now with the cost of living crisis, it’s likely to be even harder, and even harder than that, if you have other people depending on your salary.

If you’re thinking of making a small change, my advice would be to be prepared for tears, possible breakdowns, and a rocky road to finding your balance without burning yourself out. Expect to constantly question whether you made the right decision and whether or not living on your own is for you. No one will tell you about the necessary willpower and determination when you are actually doing it on your own.

“Changing career is not easy”

When it comes to teaching yoga, specifically, you’re not just facilitating classes, you’re now doing marketing, sales pitches, accounts, and everything in between. In an ideal world, I would have wanted to ease the transition instead of diving headfirst with no idea what I was doing.

However, real life is not that simple, and immersing myself in a new life and career has allowed me to get tougher, align with my true values, and stay strong in and for what I believe in. Truly, now, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.



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