Changing Careers and Cities with Yoga Studio Founder Nikita Ramchandani

Words Alexandria Baker
Date

Would you drop everything if it meant you could follow your dream?

Almost everyone has a daydream they cling to during long days in the office, from getting a desired promotion to quitting their job entirely. Former finance professional Nikita Ramchandani chose to do the latter, deciding to live a free-flowing life focused on yoga and wellness instead of being stuck at a desk all day. 

But beyond quitting her job, she also moved from New York to Hong Kong, opening up her own studio in 2016, Kita Yoga, to find a fluid flow in a city that can be overly focused on rigid definitions of perfection.  

Ramchandani wants her studio to be more than a place to work out—she’s working to cultivate a community of yogis who care about one another on and off the mat. According to her, “…[yoga] has changed my inner dialogue, which on a subconscious level affects how I act and communicate.” 

It’s this sense of awareness and mindfulness she seeks to instill in all of her classes. The intentionality has also impacted Ramchandani’s travels, as she aims to slow down wherever she is and fully embrace the present moment. “I used to plan my trips by the minute, I now allow myself to get lost in a new city and explore and follow roads that call out to me,” she says.

We took a few moments with Ramchandani to slow down and think about the role that yoga plays in everyday life, for individuals and even entire neighborhoods.

How did you first discover yoga? What was your yoga practice like when you first started versus now? 

I stumbled upon yoga when I was at university in New York, it was a progressive addiction; I loved the way it made me feel and how it complemented my active life. I live to move, so when I first started yoga I was attracted to a dynamic, choreographed vinyasa practice. However, over the last ten years my practice has transformed and evolved. I now find freedom staying in postures for longer to sit with myself and understand myself better. The physicality of the practice is now of less importance than the functionality, and my practice is constantly evolving to serve what my body needs. 

You used to work in finance, and then moved to the yoga industry. Why did you make the switch? Would you encourage others to make a radical life change like that? 

The shift in my career largely stemmed from my desire to create a brand and a community. Yoga and wellness practices fuel my life, hence it made sense to build a business in this space.

In terms of making life changes, I believe that life is about experiences, about constantly evolving, learning, and growing in all dimensions. If you truly have an innate desire to achieve something and have a solid execution plan with an understanding and drive for the work behind it, then go for it! 

Why did you decide to open Kita Yoga in Hong Kong?

I came to Hong Kong to visit family and found myself missing my studio in New York where I really knew the students and teachers and had people who were invested in the progress of my practice. I missed the connection and the sense of belonging that I found on the mat there. I thought Hong Kong could benefit from that same kind of space, a place both to do yoga and to hang out. People need yoga in this city—it’s so crazy! Our biggest focus is to create a vibe where people never want to leave, where they take yoga beyond the class and become more conscious of themselves and everything around them.

Why is finding a sense of place so important to your yoga practice? How did you decide to move from New York to Hong Kong?

I had a vision for a space that wasn’t offered in Hong Kong. Creating community was one of the main intentions behind establishing Kita Yoga in Hong Kong, and from the start we have collaborated with friends in the neighborhood to be a real, holistic space. At times Hong Kong can feel isolating and competitive. I wanted to create a place that feels like home, or better yet, a neighborhood that feels like home. The studio is a minimalist space with an inclusive vibe and light, bright, airy qualities with lots of plants, to practice near something organic and alive. Although we are situated right in Soho, this place is a real escape from the city! 

How does Kita Yoga fit into the Hong Kong wellness scene? Are you noticing more interest and awareness from locals in the work you do

Our mission is to offer an authentic, innovative and informative practice focused on the functionality of the body, offering tools and techniques to enhance life outside of class. We offer a variety of classes and encourage our team to teach in a way that inspires them, weaving together many branches of yoga to push ourselves and the people around us to shift and change, live well, and feel good. We are continuously learning and being inspired to understand what the body needs. Our teaching is constantly progressing and integrating new work as peoples’ needs evolve. We also offer a host of donation-based classes for a number of organizations to empower our community. 

In Hong Kong, people are attracted to a disciplined practice where you’re contorting yourself into shapes. We wanted to offer something practical and pragmatic (which is needed in this environment) to cultivate a sense of inner power and get more information to understand yourself. As we have stayed true to our belief from the start, we find that our community has grown organically as they have resonated with our methodology.  

As we have grown, we’ve integrated nutrition, sound healing, and meditation as part of our offerings to give our people a well-rounded experience. We truly want to promote yoga as a lifestyle and understand that this is unique to each individual. 

Nikita Ramchandani poses with two other women in a group yoga session

How can others find more wellness and mindfulness in their lives (even if they don’t change careers)?

You can simply start by allowing yourself the time and space to slow down and listen to what you need. Just creating that pause between thought and action can give meaning and fulfillment to your ideas and everyday goals. Allow yourself to experience the subtleties of each moment.  Truly feel the simplicities that life has to offer, so that each moment is not fading and wasted with too much emphasis placed on the future. Create rituals for yourself; the idea of being well is a constant evolution based on where you are in the present moment.   

Where is your favorite place to travel for yoga? What do you like about it?

I love Canngu! You can truly immerse into yoga in the holistic sense, through your physical practice, the food you eat, and the environment. Canngu just has this healing quality where you truly feel replenished as you nourish your body and your mind. However, New York and London are places where I find my inspiration, following  teachers who have transformed my practice. 

What tips would you offer to people at the start of their own wellness journey? What small steps can they take to make manageable changes?

What makes you feel good? Do that! 

We tend to overcomplicate things. My belief is that living well means understanding what makes you feel good, what brings you fulfillment both from a physical and mental standpoint, and implementing small rituals each day to find that feeling!


To keep up with Nikita Ramchandani, follow her on Instagram along with Kita Yoga.

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