From civil engineer to yoga warrior
Changing your life to pursue your passion is possible, but you need to be proactive
Engineering jobs are notorious for being some of the hardest positions to fill in South Africa and, in 2014, the department of home affairs placed civil engineering on its critical-skills visa list. Despite the value of her training, Mandisa Nduli left a career in civil engineering technology at the age of 23 to enter South Africa’s rapidly growing fitness industry.
“I’ve always seen myself in business, but wasn’t quite sure what field I would branch into,” Nduli says. “When I started yoga, I immediately knew that this was it. I had finally found what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”
Nduli is now 26 and working full time as an instructor at Yoga Warrior in Rosebank. Ditching her plans to obtain a master’s degree in project management, the Durban resident escaped what she calls the stifling structure of the engineering field for the health and wellness industry.
According to a report published by SA Good News in February, one in five South African adults go to a gym or health club, or engage in some other form of exercise, such as yoga, at least once a month.
South Africa has the highest concentration of fitness centres on the continent, and with this growth comes an influx of job opportunities for club managers, personal trainers, group instructors and administrators.
Since a whopping 61% of the population is overweight, discourse around health and fitness is increasing and lifestyles are adjusting, especially among the working middle class.
“The best part of what I do is having a platform to transform people one yoga session at a time,” Nduli says.
“I love the experience that comes with seeing people experience the goodness that yoga brings on the mat.”
Although many fail to see the spiritual practice in an entrepreneurial light, yogis are entrepreneurs.
There are financial, administrative and managerial duties to handle when running a studio.
Also, like any entrepreneur, yogis take calculated risks to make their professional dreams a reality.
“Going all out is the best way to get the full experience and for you to be fully submerged in your passion,” Nduli says.
“A definite calculated risk is necessary. Know the risks that come along if things don’t work out. Always have a plan B and even a plan Q.”
She resigned from her job before she had even certified as a yoga instructor. During a three-month interim period, she relied on savings until she gained a full-time instructing job.
“If you’re looking for financial security, then go and do your nine-to-five job. It’s simple,” she says.
“There are going to be some months where you have to transition. With entrepreneurship, you’re not looking for money in the beginning; it’s about sharing your gift and sharing your passion with people.”
POLE POSITION Mandisa Nduli changed the course of her life by choosing to become a yoga instructor