An Interview With Shikha of "Shake It With Shikha"
I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing Shikha who enthralled me with her captivating journey from Nepal to California. The journey takes us from the corporate world of banking to becoming the owner and operator of Studio Sapphire, shifting from Fitness to a world of mindfulness. Now, on her way to becoming a Reiki Master and Teacher, Shikha shares her vision of being able to heal on a global level, where every stranger can be embraced and healed beyond any limitations. Read and be inspired by one woman's journey!
Photos courtesy of Miader Izeta @packandclick
What is the meaning behind your name?
I am from Nepal and my name is a Sanskrit word that means “on the top”. So, if you see a candle wick, the flame is called “Shikha”. Likewise, so is “top of the mountain” or “top of the head”. My mom named me and I love my name!
Did you appreciate growing up in Nepal with such a rich culture?
You will probably be shocked to find out but, no! When I was growing up in Nepal, I was not appreciative about my culture at all. In fact, for some reason, I felt like I was born in the wrong country and grew up wanting to leave! Now that I know more about all the holistic practices I can feel my connection to home. But back then, not at all. I totally took it for granted.
Describe your Family life in Nepal
I always followed what I was told to do. Nepal is a third world country and a lot of women are not educated. Now, things are changing with the current generation. But back then, it was more of a son preference country. That means it is preferred that only males go to school. They are also the head of the household and the breadwinner so the women take care of the house. You pretty much get married, leave your parents’ house and go to your husband’s house to take care of their household. Most of the women are housewives. That was the reality back then. Things have changed now.
But being born a woman, I always felt otherwise. I was sure that there is something that I could contribute to the world. Even though Nepal is a beautiful country and the culture is very rich, for some reason, I felt like I did not fit in.
You said you had expectation of doing what your parents wanted you to do, so does that mean, they also wanted you to be a housewife?
In my case, it was a little different, as I was the first born. They would have preferred a son first so, the expectations rose a little higher. Their reasoning was, “We do not have a son, so you are our son. You must fulfill our dreams and be successful and let everyone know that even though we did not have a son you still made us proud!”
Did you receive a good education in Nepal?
I did. I feel blessed to have the education that I did. I went to one of the best schools in Nepal. There are not many job opportunities in Nepal, therefore, my father joined the British military when he was 20. The British military comes every year to recruit Nepalese men to serve in the army. When I grew up, Britain ruled Hong Kong and my father was stationed in Hong Kong which is where I was born. They provide you with a quarter where you can live with your family and they had one school within the barrack. We couldn't go out into the civilian world to get educated. My father wanted me to have the best education, so he decided to admit me to a boarding school in Nepal. I was there until the end of high school.
It sounds like you already knew you were going to leave Nepal after you finished High School?
In January 2004, I left Nepal to pursue my bachelor’s degree in the USA. Throughout school I told my friends, “After high school I am going to the USA!” Because my father was in the British Military, I could have gone to London with an automatic British residency. I knew, however, that America is for me. Something was pulling me.
Having been in boarding school since a young age, you must have found it easier to leave Nepal and your family?
Yes, you are right. I had been independent for so long. Since the age of 9 when I started boarding school, I had lived without my parents. So yes, it was an easy transition to leave home and be independent.
Did you know what you were going to study?
I did. Back home in the 11th and 12th grade you get a choice of three majors.
The mindset is: study “science” and you become a doctor which is considered the best profession you can get in, and you will be a known success.
Study Commerce, the second level, and you go to accounting and computer science which is considered okay as you can still be crunching numbers.
Study Humanities, the lowest level and you study art and literature. Most of the time you become an English professor, or you go into Hotel Management which is more of a creative field. This is not looked upon very highly, and is not taken as a serious profession. Basically, if you study Humanities it would be because there is nothing left for you to do.
I never looked at it that way, even though it was projected onto me that way by society, family and friends. I picked Humanities to the staggering amazement of everyone I knew who exclaimed, “You have good grades, what are you doing? Why would you pick humanities?”
Neighbors and cousins were trying to convince me to change my major to science.
For some reason, I knew that the creative field was for me. It called me. English was one of my favorite subjects and I wanted to study literature. I also wanted to study Communications and Media. None of this was even part of the education system back home but I had planned to go to America. So, I had to cry and fight with my family to study humanities.
I did it! I just had to shut down everything people had to say, and be determined and say, “No! This is what I choose to do!”
Was it a good choice to study Humanities?
In my core, yes definitely! However, because my parents did not view it as the best choice, there was this lingering regret, “You could have done better!” I did not feel like I made my parents proud, but in my heart, my core and my soul, I knew that it was right for me.
How did you get into Banking?
I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communications and a minor in Public Relations in the year of 2009.There was a huge market crash in 2008-09. I remember when I first started college, we had job fairs and various companies would come to college to recruit the graduates. This excited me and I thought, “Good, I can’t wait to graduate!” When I graduated, there was nothing. I needed a job to pay my bills, so I interviewed for a customer service role in Bank of America. I got hired and that’s how I got started in the banking industry.
What took you to California?
In 2011, I felt the need to change my life.
I started communicating to my higher powers, “I need change. What can I do?” I knew I needed to do better things and get my power back under control!
I started exploring my options at the bank. I was told that I could transfer to Atlanta or California. I thought to myself, California sounds good! I shipped my car and my belongings. By that weekend, I was in California, working.
Had you grown up believing in a higher power?
Nepal is predominantly a Hindu country, although, Buddhism is huge as well. I was born and raised as a Hindu. For some reason, I never distinguished between any religions. I was aware of all the different religions, but in my mind, all religions were equal. I grew up practicing Hinduism. I would go to both Hindu temples as well as Buddhist monasteries. It was almost a part of our culture to do so. That’s something I love about Nepal.
My grandparents are very religious and the roots of my spirituality came from them. All the scriptures we study in yoga training, I had practiced it as a kid. So, yes, I grew up believing in a higher power.
How many people in Nepal turn spiritual knowledge into being a Spiritual Practitioner? For example, would you be doing what you are doing now in Nepal?
Not at all! Spirituality in Nepal is a part of a culture; you are sort of born into it. It is almost like a daily ritual. Not many would consider taking it into a holistic approach or even strive to become a Holistic Practitioner.
Returning to spiritual practices seemed to re-connect you to your family in Nepal?
Yes! At some point, I felt like I lost my identity. I think coming to California and getting in touch with my spirituality got me in tuned again to being my true self.
How did you move from Banking to Fitness?
I had danced as a kid and always loved dancing. I was out of shape so I joined the gym. I took a bunch of fitness and dance fitness classes. I totally enjoyed it and would stand in the front, right next to the teacher, partly because I couldn’t see with my nearsighted vision. People in the back started noticing me and they would tell me after class that when they cannot see the teacher, they would follow me. Then the teachers started noticing and asked me if I had considered teaching? They encouraged me to get certified. So, I did. Soon after that, I started teaching part- time fitness classes in various gyms and studios.
What led to your decision to quit the Bank?
I was miserable at the bank. I was one of the top performers, my numbers were always good and I was also moving into leadership roles. But, I was not feeling fulfilled. I was not helping people like I wanted to. I wanted to help people in a different level and get into their souls. In the corporate industry, you just follow orders. So, with nothing lined up, I decided to quit. The decision that led me to quit was so I could be happy.
What gave you the courage to walk away?
At that moment, I didn’t know what it was. Now, that I think about it, I feel like I was being guided. I said to myself, “What am I doing? I could be homeless!” At the time, I had saved some money and thought to myself, I could open a studio and fulfill my dreams.
Around this time, a good friend of mine, needed some money for a down payment on his house. I wanted to help so I gave him most of my savings. I had no business experience at all. I had to google everything. Despite of all challenges, the stars were aligned for me to follow my heart.
You gave someone the money and never once thought, "I need it"?
I could have been in a better situation with the money but more than money you need to have a power of belief, a power of faith, and positivity. Something powerful is there that is more than money. I don't know what it is but I think you need to believe in your vision and follow it. I had a vision that I would be doing something like this and I just followed it.
During the process, I also had a spiritual awakening.
I was working on my website until 6 am writing blogs to get my business started. But I did not know what to name my studio and I could not decide on my logo. Finally, I called it Studio Sapphire. I am a September baby so I named it after my birthstone. That night I went to bed and had a spiritual awakening in my dream. I still remember it so vividly, like it was last night. My dream connected me to my angels and gave me an assurance to follow my path.
What connected you to veganism so fast?
I had always had a compassionate heart. I watched a lot of movies and videos about the meat and dairy industry in the US. In Nepal, I grew up eating meat and I never felt like I was doing anything wrong. My grandma even had a poultry farm and we would eat fresh eggs and chickens. But, when I saw all the videos about animal cruelty in the corporations here to make quick money, I thought to myself, I could save a few animals and choose not to be a part of this violence. Also, when I trained to become a yoga teacher, we studied about practicing non-violence. It all went together. My yoga practice started getting deeper with veganism.
Has the vision for your studio changed over the years?
Initially, my vision was to run a fitness studio like all other major studios. Over the course, the vision and the mission grew. When I opened my studio, I had no business experience whatsoever. Overtime, I enrolled myself in business seminars, immersed in various courses and discovered that I was not only a teacher or an artist, but also an entrepreneur.
What have been the biggest influences in your Entrepreneurial life?
My biggest influence and my role model in my entrepreneurial life has been Tony Robbins.
I started following his programs and joined seminars like “Unleash the Power Within” and “Business mastery”. That is when I discovered a lot about business, entrepreneurship, humanity and psychology. It transformed my vision of the studio, my business and myself.
I also joined accountability and mastermind groups and started studying profound entrepreneurs, such as Gary V, Gabby Bernstein, Dan Lok, Jim Rohn, and more. Tony Robbins also taught me the spiritual side of business. I realized that for a business to be successful, it all starts with the leader.
At what point did you know you were a Healer?
I started teaching restorative yoga classes. I would give a mini massage treat to my clients at the end of each class. And people started coming just for the head massage. People would tell me “There’s something about your hands, Shikha. When you touch, me I feel great, relaxed and healed!”
Then I started hanging out with a lot of yogis in the yoga community who are healers, Reiki Practitioners and Shamans. When I would shake their hands, or give them a hug, they would tell me that I should be a healer. Healers always identify other healers, you know. I met 3 Reiki healers and all of them told me the same thing, “You have healing hands!”
I couldn’t imagine myself as a healer at all. I started to explore Reiki healing for myself, to cleanse my energy. During my Reiki session, my path to becoming a healer got triggered.
One Friday of Nov 2017, I went in nervous and curious. I got attuned and came out that evening as a Reiki healer. Life has never been the same ever since. I feel whole.
How does being a Reiki Healer fit with your Nepalese background?
For the first few months I couldn’t accept it, mainly because my family couldn’t accept it. They were very unhappy with the path I chose, especially after going through a long process of getting a degree and graduating with honors. They couldn’t understand why I chose this path. It wasn’t anything related to my degree. At that moment, I started doubting myself again. “If I do this, they will not be happy and I want them to be proud of me and be happy with me.”
Another moment I am thinking, “I need to follow my heart.”
It took me a little while, about 2-3 months or so, until I had to again remind myself who I am and forget about what everyone said. I accepted my true self and started sharing my gift. My business changed for better, my clientele also grew. It has been transformational. When you follow your purpose, all things align.
What have been the most profound changes in your work?
Everything I practice now is holistic. I don't use any medicinal drugs. I teach my clients fitness and yoga with a combination of mindfulness. Everything is very mindful, from diet to exercise. The nutrition coaching that I provide is all about healing through food. It is completely different than just calorie counting to lose weight or training to build muscles. I train clients to feel good and provide a wholesome coaching alongside weight loss goals.
Are all your clients seen in your Studio?
Yes, for the most part. I do have few in-home clientele as well. I work with a lot of patients who have kidney issues, arthritis or people who are going through divorce or other emotional challenges. I also offer few group classes at the studio but most of them are private sessions.
Do you feel like you are still evolving?
Yes, I am still evolving. My vision of entrepreneurship is still expanding because I strive to learn and grow each day.
Many of my clients have transformed themselves, gave up modern medicine and healing holistically with food, yoga and mindfulness practice.
Now, I am working on building my brand “Shake it with Shikha”. I am getting ready to launch my online courses and working on completing my Reiki Master/ Teacher Training.
Do you feel you have overcome the doubts about leaving your Banking job and becoming a Yoga Teacher and Healer?
I do. I have found my purpose. When it is a higher calling, the universe always has your back. I truly feel that phrase in my core. It has been a journey.
What is your vision for the future?
There are many Healers who say, “This is it! I have discovered my path and that’s where I am going to be!” But for me, I have bigger dreams and even bigger goals. My goal is not just to serve one or two people, or one community; I want to serve millions. And, the only way I can serve millions is by being a global entrepreneur.
As an entrepreneur, we must learn to build relationship with mind, people and money. Most healers always say, “We do not do this for money, we do this for love!” That is great, I do it for the love as well. Nevertheless, the more I can earn being an entrepreneur and building businesses, the more people I can help because I can expand my capability and possibilities. Buddha said, "What you think is who you become." I do not want to limit myself. If I can heal millions of people, why not!
Being in business as a healer does not have to be bad thing. Matter of fact, all businesses are created to resolve a solution to a problem. Healers can be hired for their services like any other therapists, or marketing analyst or a leader. Business is 90% psychology.
When I first opened my business, a lot of business owners told me, “If you are not in business to make money, you will not succeed.”
I always thought otherwise. I am in business to serve. When you are in business to add value to people’s lives and serve, the money flows in a form of energy. I want to be able to travel to places and hug strangers. There is so much out there in the world for me to explore. The journey has just started. I have multiple visions for the future. In short, it is to keep growing and expanding.
What is Your Message to the world?
A message that I can share to the world is to “look beyond yourself”. We are so caught up in thinking about ourselves, what we can do and how we can build things for ourselves. If we take out the "me" and "I" and "you" and look beyond that, there is infinite possibilities, not just about who you can become but how we can co-exist in this beautiful world, together.
Also, I believe that everybody has a purpose in their life. If you just follow your higher purpose, you will make a difference. You may not make a thousand differences but you can make one difference and that difference can mean everything.
I know this message is directed to an individual, but an individual, makes the world!
One person at a time.
One day at a time.
One heart at a time.
Trust me- It will get to millions.
You can contact Shikha through the following links: