When I decided to start my own business I honestly had no idea what I was getting myself into. I just knew I wanted to expand the reach of yoga beyond the studio and share the truly life changing benefits I’d experienced through yoga with others.
Article originally published by Boston Voyager Magazine, June 5, 2017.
Today we’d like to introduce you to Elisar Hares.
Elisar, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I’m a former corporate lawyer turned yogi, and took several unexpected turns in my career to be where I am today. I took my first yoga class in 2001 and was immediately drawn to the practice for its ability to soothe the body and mind, but I didn’t consider it as a career choice back then. I went on to graduate from Wellesley College and Northeastern Law School, during which time my practice became sporadic. By the time I completed a federal clerkship and found myself working at a corporate law firm, I was out of shape and suffering from insomnia and anxiety. I returned to yoga and immediately began to notice changes in my life — I was sleeping better than I had in years, I felt happier, I had more energy, I no longer needed my prescription anti-anxiety medication. Ultimately, I quit my corporate job to manage a yoga studio. One year later, I co-founded Aria with my partner Sid Govindan, M.D. in order to share the immense benefits of yoga and meditation that we have experienced in our own lives.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Definitely not! There are a lot of unexpected challenges that arise when you’re starting your own business. Our biggest challenge was letting clients know that our company exists. We bring yoga on-site to client homes, offices, hotels, and hospitals. Since we don’t have a physical storefront, we don’t get the benefit of foot traffic. I remember the day we launched the website and waited by the phone. Nothing happened. After a couple of days we quickly realized that we needed a strong marketing strategy — we reached out to professionals who’d successfully launched startups and got advice on what works. It made all the difference!
We’d love to hear more about your business.
We specialize in on-site private / small group yoga and meditation classes. Our mission is to make yoga more accessible by bringing it directly to offices, homes, hotels, and hospitals. We have a team of experienced teachers, offer a variety of styles of yoga, and bring everything you need to have the perfect class — high-end Manduka yoga props (mats, blocks, and straps), music, and essential oils.
Unlike large group classes, our classes are personalized to ensure that our clients are able to practice the way they want, where, and when they want. For example, corporate clients tend to favor energetic flows that leave participants feeling refreshed, energized, and ready to tackle the workday. Other clients prefer restorative evening yoga, outdoor vinyasa yoga with friends on the weekend, or want to focus on education and developing an at-home practice.
I am very proud to have had the chance to build a business that is in line with my personal values. As a company, we strive to live the ethos of yoga on and off the mat. We donate 9% of our profits to various charities, compensate our teachers above market norms, and offer discounted or complimentary classes to non-profits and low income families.
What were you like growing up?
By the time I was 10 I’d lived in 4 different countries and at least 7 different houses. I’m also an only child, so I learned to be pretty independent from an early age and always enjoyed activities I could do on my own. I’ve always loved being healthy and active. In high school I ran varsity cross country, but I was never that interested in the competitive aspect of organized sports. When I was 16, I took my first yoga class — I didn’t know any yogis at the time but I saw a flyer for a class and decided to check it out. That year, I opted out of gym in order to do an independent study in yoga and Pilates. Little did I know that over 10 years later it would turn into a career!
Aria Yoga Co. was founded by partners Sid Govindan, MD. and Elisar Hares, ESQ. Sid is a physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and a director at QPID Health, a Boston-based start-up. Elisar, a graduate of Wellesley College and Northeastern Law School, is a former corporate lawyer turned yogi. Aria is the result of combining their extensive academic and work experience with a shared love and respect for yoga, meditation, and well-being.
Sid and Elisar founded Aria in order to give people the tools to live healthier, happier lives by providing convenient, personalized yoga + meditation services that are accessible to everyone, regardless of income, age, body type, or health status.
In founding Aria, Sid and Elisar wanted to build a company they could be proud of. The Aria ethos provides the founding principles on which the company is based, such as:
- Pro Bono Services. Sliding-scale to pro bono services are available for low income families, not for profit companies, and government agencies
- Karma. 9% of profits are donated to various charities
- Ethical Compensation Practices. Staff are compensated above market norms and receive complimentary continuing education
- Practice What You Preach. Sid and Elisar make it a priority to incorporate meditation, yoga, cross-training, and healthy lifestyle choices into their routines
By living the ethos of yoga on and off the mat, Sid and Elisar seek to inspire others to build better lives, families, businesses, and communities.
Aria offers both residential and corporate wellness services that include private, on-site yoga + meditation classes, lifestyle + fitness coaching, and corporate workshops. Every service can be customized to fit the diverse needs of their clientele. Through education, personalized feedback and training, Aria provides the tools people need to creating lasting lifestyle change.
Through its private wellness services, Aria hopes to empower people to be the best version of themselves. When you feel good, you do good. It's that simple.