Friday, June 26, 2020

The Brigade that Builds Brands: Anita Kolhatkar, an Air Force wife & Yoga Therapist + Teacher, on creating online and in-person Yoga classes on the move

Hello friends! Today, we have Yoga teacher and therapist, and Air Force wife Anita Kolhatkar with us at The Brigade that Builds Brands. She teaches yoga through in-person classes at every military base she is posted to and also offers online classes through 'Yoga With Anita'. Having been one of Anita's students/patients last year, when my back gave out and I was struggling with a few other health issues, I know firsthand about the positive impact of her healing workouts.

Announcement: Anita has a special offer for the readers of this story. Check out the 'yogalicious' offer at the end of the interview :).

Anita Kolhatkar doing different Yoga postures
Anita Kolhatkar doing what she does best: YOGA :)

CB. Please tell us something about yourself – what do you do, where are you based and how long have you been a fauji/military wife.

AK. My name is Anita Bhide Kolhatkar,  and I am a certified Yoga therapist and Yoga instructor. I have been a military wife for 14 years now.  

CB. What has been your business or creative journey been like: how & when did you start your venture?
AK. I was always very interested in Yoga and had been teaching it before marriage also. But after marriage, due to the various places we got posted to, my chances to teach and expand my horizons in this field were limited. I would start teaching, would get a group of people who were regulars for my classes, and all would change as soon as the posting signal came. So there was not much continuity in my classes or yoga therapy that I was imparting to those learning from me. The feedback from them was encouraging, but not being able to take classes at a steady location meant I had to again start from scratch at each new place to build up a good tempo. 
Finally with the increased internet bandwidth available at even remote locations, I started thinking about conducting classes online. There are various means to do so: Whatsapp calls, Skype, Zoom and other apps permitting video calling on phone or laptop. So I got into teaching online as well as offline. I’ve also taught yoga to cadets at the National Defence Academy, when we were posted there for a tenure.
However, the challenge with online teaching is that each person learning has their own free time and hence preferred slots to be online. Initially, when I launched my online classes, some of the sessions took more time than I intended, leaving me with very little spare time for normal chores.  
But with experience I've now got the knack of seeing what is possible and convincing most about the time slots to adhere to. I work almost 5-6 hrs a day, morning and evening, with short breaks in between to manage kids, meals and other chores.  

Yoga with Anita
Yoga With Anita

CB. Fauji wives make their home in an assortment of obscure places across the country. Our lives are about living in the moment and doing what we can, when we can. Can you share how you stayed creative or found work that satisfied you while moving across the country?
AK. At times this constant change of location was disheartening. So much needs to be built up at every new base and then has to be left behind because of a piece of paper called posting. But now I'm used to the idea, lthough not very comfortable with it. The online classes are a great chance to maintain continuity with my previous batches. In fact many of those from previous places of posting continue with my classes online. 
This new mode of conducting online classes took away a large part of the feeling of starting the same project from point zero, and I enjoy the continuity that it has provided me as a yoga teacher and therapist.

Anita teaching Yoga to a group of people and warming up before a yoga class
Anita and her students warming up before a Yoga class
CB. How do you market your business and products while moving from base to base, place to place, and often to remote areas?
AK. Yoga is well known to most people and there is no marketing required as far as ‘selling’ yoga is concerned. But getting people to accept me as a yoga instructor at every new place is something that I have to work on. Often, I offer trial sessions for those who wish to know more about how I teach yoga. But once I start my regular batches at every base, I find that people come to know about my classes quickly through word of mouth.
Anita and NDA cadets doing a headstand posture in Yoga
Anita teaching Yoga to NDA cadets

CB. How do you juggle that load of social commitments & welfare activities + postings and stints of solo parenting that are an integral part of the fauji lifestyle, while nurturing your passions and meeting work deadlines?
AK. I mostly conduct classes in the mornings, with a small part in early evening. Since all those posted with us are aware of the social commitments, I am able to shift the class time or day to compensate for these commitments. Thankfully my husband has been posted to family stations, hence except for his out of station duty , I do not have prolonged solo parenting times. 

CB. As a creative/entrepreneur + fauji wife, is there something that you cherish very much about being part of this community? And is there something you feel must/can change for the better?
AK. We are a close knit group. We all know each other very well and everyone understands the situations that we all face. Hence the support is forthcoming and people are helpful and cooperative. 
Teaching at school used to be the only way to be employed for fauji wives. But online work and the ability to conduct classes online has expanded opportunities for a number of ladies. 
The chance to expand their horizons may be encouraged with initiatives where possible.
Anita demonstrating various Yoga poses
Yoga sessions with Anita

CB. What tips would you give to fauji wives out there who’d like to pursue a career in your field while living at small and busy bases (many still believe or led to believe that you can either be a fauji wife or a professional, and that’s not true)?
AK. It is not difficult to manage a career and be a fauji wife as long as one understands that there are responsibilities in fauj (welfare/ ventures etc), but a career has its place in everyone’s life. It is possible to split time, and accept both with open hands. There will be compromises to make on both sides. But there is always something new to learn every day, being a fauji wife or a career oriented professional. 

Yoga therapy session in progress
Yoga therapy with Anita

Special Offer: First 3 readers who contact Anita can avail a 10% Discount on their first online Yoga session with her. To avail the discount, you'll need to do the following:

Like both these pages on Facebook:
Email Anita about availing the discount for an online yoga class at
Note: You can avail this offer till June 30, 2020.

STAY TUNED for my new Ebook "Queen Of The At-Home Lifestyle: A gal's guide to working-from-home, homemaking & homeschooling". Whether you're still adjusting to the stay-at-home life because of the lockdown & social distancing, or enjoy being a homebody, here is a short book that you can enjoy with a cup of coffee. 

Subscribe to the blog to get first dibs + discounts on this Ebook.

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