When Niraj Naik faced an autoimmune disease that wasn’t responding to conventional medication, he made the unorthodox move of turning to ancient paths of wellness.
Diving into the study of pranayama, Ayurveda, meditation, yoga, self-hypnosis, and NLP, Naik was able to eliminate the symptoms of his disease. That was when he started his journey as a wellness entrepreneur, driven by the mission to help others to achieve physical, mental, and emotional wellness. This path ultimately led to creating SOMA Breath, an international school of breathwork that today includes nearly 1,000 instructors around the globe.
Read on to discover how Naik, nicknamed the renegade pharmacist in his circle, chartered his own path in life and in business.
Niraj, Soma Breath Is A Vibrant Community, What Can You Share With Other Entrepreneurs About Community Building?
Having worked in a massive, conventional corporation, I had no desire to create another one. I didn’t want to create lots of jobs with people working like slaves underneath me.
I still wanted to make the biggest impact possible. However, I knew the old way was not going to work. The stress I went through when I worked in a corporate and how that eventually led to my own chronic illness. It was just something I didn’t want to put anyone else through. It certainly wasn’t going to be aligned with the wellness impact I wanted to create.
That’s why my vision was to build a big movement, not a big corporation. And there isn’t a top “guru” in this movement. Rather, it’s a global tribe where anyone can learn how to spread wellness through breathwork. We have a small core team of employees who all happen to be close friends, which makes work so fun.
Do You Feel Like You’ve Achieved Your Vision?
In many ways, yes. Though there’s always room to continue growing and expanding our impact. To date, I’m proud we have nearly 1000 certified SOMA Breath Instructors around the world, all of whom work independently as their own business owners. Some do it part-time, some do it full time. Many are able to travel freely or work from home while raising their kids or pursuing their passions.
Together, we’ve impacted over a million lives through programs, workshops, and retreats. Our instructors also have the flexibility to mix SOMA Breath techniques with any other modality like yoga or NLP. The community is bursting with creativity – everyone has something unique to offer.
If instead, this was a company with 1000 people sitting in their cubicles of a corporate building, then both our service offerings and everyone’s lives—including my own—would look very, very different. I also think we wouldn’t be able to create the impact we have because we wouldn’t be location independent.
What’s an Example Of An Impact That You Think Would Not Have Happened Had You Built SOMA Breath With The Traditional Office and Hierarchy Model?
One thing that comes immediately to mind is after the tragic explosions in Beirut happened in August of 2020, one of our instructors who lived in Beirut hosted a series of free SOMA Breath trauma healing workshops for the community. When I saw the pictures they posted on our Facebook group, I was floored. It moved me immensely and I have deep gratitude that our instructors, who all have big hearts, can offer this kind of service to the world and those who need it most.
This wouldn’t be possible if say, I had decided to build SOMA Breath out of central London. I mean, sure, we could run online workshops. And we do offer that too. But it’s very different from being there on the ground with the people in the midst of a tragedy like that.
On a somewhat related note, this model has also helped us get through the impact of the pandemic. Sure, we had to make some adjustments, like cancel our own retreats. But we could easily shift a lot of things online, and the global network of instructors could still run workshops within their own communities on the ground because they’re independent.
In fact, we’ve even been able to grow considerably during this time. Since our instructor training works very well online, we’ve been able to offer people a new way to earn an income while solving a key issue people face, which is stress and fear. It’s been quite incredible to witness these transformations in people’s lives, and I’m so grateful to play a part in all of this.
Practicing What He Preaches
With a mission to spread wellness, Naik is an exemplary example of someone who practices what he preaches at every level of his business. By putting people first and championing the values of wellness, happiness, freedom, and flexibility, Naik’s personal leadership style has led to a fast-growing movement of SOMA Breath instructors and practitioners worldwide.