Ancient Indian practices like Ayurveda and yoga were part of Roopashree Sharma’s life for as long as she could remember in the form of her grandmother’s recipe of tulsi ka Ark (a herbal home remedy made from basil) and her mother’s special paste made from coconut milk and turmeric to treat oily skin.
Roopashree held these traditions close, earned a certification in yoga from Bombay University, and studied Sutras and the Charasamita as well. When her son was diagnosed with asthma when he was just two years old, she made him practise Jagriti, Surya Namaskar, and a few other pranayams (breathing exercises). “Today, he is completely out of it and a healthy 20-year-old boy,” she tells HerStory.
When her son moved to Germany to pursue further studies, Roopashree had a lot of free time on her hands. She turned towards guiding youth towards evidence-based practices of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy by founding Arthavan Life in May 2019.
Atharvan derives its name from Atharvaveda, which is the first Hindu text on medicine, also regarded as the veda of magical formulas and knowledge storehouse of atharvanas, the procedures for everyday life.
Connecting to roots
Among the many people that Roopashree convinced to practise yoga also include her husband who started with little to no interest but now religiously practises it every day. Shubhra, her friend for the last 15 years who has also followed her entrepreneurial journey closely, says there is always something to learn from her.
Shubhra says, “I have seen many people like my colleagues come back from power yoga classes and complain about having received benefits of Ayurveda and yoga, when these two are totally different in the first place out of sheer ignorance.” Today, she suggests people visit Atharvan Life to know that one must practise regular yoga for a year to feel the difference and not jump right into power yoga.
Roopashree emphasises the goal is to help people understand the importance of understanding the science and true essence behind every practices.
The Mumbai-based startup is creating an interactive digital repository where she shares research-based information and also is a marketplace for a handful of organic brands, which are highly scrutinised based on accreditations and employee practices.
“Indians have disconnected from these ancient cultures because nobody had the answers and reasons as to why something particular was followed and I want to give that answer why through the platform,” the entrepreneur says.
In the age of information overload and advertisements promising certain wellness potential within a month or so, Roopashree says the younger generation do not bother to verify and blindly follow labels claiming organic and natural. “A little knowledge is dangerous, as they say.”
She is not wrong. Even when it comes to wellness tea and other cosmetic products, the International Lifestyle Survey by Euromonitor revealed that Indian consumers are spending on products that claim to be natural, organic, and sustainable.
However, the fact that naturopathy, yoga, and Ayurveda are being talked about is good awareness, Shubhra adds. The information on the platform is being read by people across India, the US, UK, and Germany.
Challenges and road ahead
Shubhra says that as women in business, every day is a challenge while starting up.
“Being in the organic and Ayurvedic industry is even more difficult because people do not take you seriously. They regard you as two women wanting to share their kitchen stories,” she adds.
Shubhra who also looks after the business performance of the venture maintains that the “best idea can do good” and make good money and there is no harm in that.
At the same time, they are emphatic about not compromising on the purpose of helping people lead a quality life, a reason why the platform features only a handful of brands.