Reaching Out – Sam Rao

This article was written by Sam Rao for the 4th issue of Amrita Magazine.

Although yoga practice has been growing in the UK since the early 1950s, I personally believe that we have yet to see a major shift in yoga practice in the general population.  

1) My own surveys in my community show that less then 2% of my local population do yoga on a regular basis.

2) When I add other disciplines ( Pilates, Tai Chi etc..) this percentage goes up to 4%. That represents only 3 million people.

I estimate that only 40 – 50 % of our population actually do physical exercise to keep their bodies moving and their minds calmer. For some sedentary life style is a norm.

Physical and mental stress are prime contributors to health conditions. Yoga is known to reduce stress, especially when there is a focused practice on postures, pranayama and Yoga nidra. A regular practice of an hour and a half, three times a week, delivers huge benefits to the practitioner. 

The question is: “why don’t we allocate the time to a discipline that delivers good health?” Perhaps it may be because of our reliance on others to look after our health (Doctors and NHS) and/or being too busy.

Almost all the diseases/conditions are known to be on the increase. And yet to expect that this nation’s health will improve…if only more money was put into the NHS…is a very naive thought process. 

There are initiatives which are starting to help towards managing the health of our population. Yoga in general public classes is increasing; yoga at work is also increasing and special initiatives from companies like Waitrose are extending the reach of yoga into local communities.

“why don’t we allocate the time to a discipline that delivers good health?”

I am willing and expecting all yoga teachers to become aware that they are very capable of building their own corporate yoga business. To that end I am committed to providing and helping every yoga teacher to have the means in their hands to approach and propose “yoga in workplace” to businesses near to where they are based. I am grateful to Yoga Alliance Professionals to encourage and support such a move. I am very willing to share all my experience on how to go about building up a “yoga in workplace” business. I wish to highlight my team’s and my experience on building our business in the corporate world with one of our very successful partners, Waitrose.

Over the past 12 months we have gone through a pilot (at 2 stores) which then went into a trial period of yoga within 4 Waitrose supermarkets. Yoga is being regularly delivered, Mondays and Tuesdays at 6pm and 7:15pm. The trial is continuing to end of June and may be extended to end of July. 

Trial is an excellent way for both sides to work out the challenges and then take time to rectify a wide range of logistical issues that have already emerged. 

My team and I are continuing with planning and rectifying our admin side, as are the Waitrose marketing team with their particular challenges. On our side we are focused on developing our admin/documentation side especially with regard to ensuring that teachers who work with us on this initiative are properly supported to deliver yoga in an environment which can, sometimes, be a bit challenging. 

Over the next 6 months (end of 2018) I am expecting to have worked with Waitrose and our own team to complete our preparations and be prepared to roll out yoga to many more Waitrose stores across the UK. It will take time to build up the roll-out plan to reach all the stores (190 of them) that have coffee shop space.

I am grateful to Yoga Alliance Professionals to make it possible to reach so many of our fellow teachers and to encourage them to contact us.

My team and I remain focused on encouraging more teachers to come forward and register to participate in this programme. Teachers can message me via YAP website or simply email: We need your name, your location ( town/county). In response we will send you more details and updates on developments.

We are also working on plans to take our experiences with this project to other national organisations. The key to the success of bringing yoga to more people will remain with our yoga teachers; dedicating their teaching to providing good remedial yoga in return for a fair payment.

Sam Rao

Sam is a senior yoga teacher with the Yoga Alliance Professionals. He has a well-established yoga teacher training school, focusing on ‘teaching to teach’ and educating his teachers on the effects of postures on the body and the mind.  

It is Sam’s intention to develop a world-class yoga school that concentrates on teaching excellence, developing supportive teacher communities, and promoting yoga as an integral part of everyone’s daily health routine.

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