A Business Information Systems graduate from Cardiff Metropolitan University has set up his own yoga and meditation business, Namasjay, with help from Cardiff Metropolitan's Centre of Entrepreneurship and Simply Do Ideas.
James Symonds has recently set up classes at the University to help promote student and staff wellbeing, with help from the Students' Union and Jen Evans, Project Coordinator at the University's Centre for Work-based Learning (CWBL).
The Simply Do Ideas programme provides assistive technology and tools for enterprise learning and support within educational institutions, businesses, charities, and other organisations to help promote enterprise and to engage young people with lots of ideas.
Jay also took part in the Countown to Launch programme run by the Centre for Entrepreneurship and was successful in securing Santander funding to develop his business idea as a result of this.
James, who is also known as Jay, teaches yoga and meditation classes at a holistic studio in Cwmbran called 'Serenity' which is owned by his aunty. He started doing yoga and meditation to help him relax and cope with a difficult period of his life, when ill health led him to take a year-long break from Cardiff Met.
Jay is now the first teacher of his style in Cardiff, teaching Zen style yoga. He was taught by Zen Master, Daizan Skinner Roshi who has spent 20 years as a monk in a Zen Japanese Monastery.
After experiencing stress and anxiety, which was interfering with both his studies and his daily life, starting to practice yoga and meditation helped Jay with his recovery.
Jay said "It helped me improve my mental health, wellbeing and build up my mental resilience. Meditation has allowed me to focus on bringing my attention back to my goals as well as being present."
"Whenever I am experiencing a difficult patch in my life, I remind myself what I enjoy the most, which is yoga and meditation. I throw myself into daily yoga and meditation practices, which allows me to see my own physical and mental strength grow through my passion."
When Jay returned to university, he achieved great grades, graduated with a 2.1, and a first in his dissertation.
Inspired by how much the positive effects of yoga and meditation helped him improve his own health, he qualified as a yoga teacher and set up his own business last year with the help and support of Cardiff Met's Centre of Entrepreneurship, where he worked closely with Dewi, Lauren and Steve there by taking part in 'Countdown To Launch', a one-week business programme of workshops for young entrepreneurs aiming to set-up their own business.
At the end of the week he had the opportunity to pitch his business idea to judges to win a share of £10,000 to spend on equipment or any other start-up costs. He won and invested in equipment for yoga classes for students and staff at Cardiff Met.
Jay received further guidance when setting up his business when he was invited to pilot the 'Accelerator Programme' delivered by Simply Do Ideas at the Centre for Entrepreneurship.
During the course Jay defined his business goals and devised a business plan with guidance from Lee Sharma, CEO of Simply Do Ideas and fellow Cardiff Met graduate Josh Barnett, Engagement Manger of Simply Do Ideas, founder of Treatment Clothing and recent star of BBC's Great British Sewing Bee.
Jay said: "Starting the Accelerator Programme was the best decision I made, it really did help accelerate the formation of my business. The team offered me so much advice which helped me develop my entrepreneurial mind-set and showed me how to pursue my business idea using what I was most passionate about - helping others.
"While setting up the business, I had my doubts along the way but stopped comparing myself to other yoga teachers. Lee helped me understand that my journey had been different and my business was completely different from others.
"I have found the whole experience challenging, fun and positive. Qualifying as a yoga teacher has helped my confidence grow and has allowed me to share my passion with others. The most rewarding part of this journey is seeing students benefit from the classes.
"I invite people to come and try a class and see how much of a positive impact, both physically and mentally it can bring to their own lives. The classes are going really well, and I have just set up a workshop that blends yoga and massage with Workzone Therapies' complementary health therapist, Megan Bearpark, who is also a Cardiff Met graduate.
"For yoga, you don't need to be able to do arm balancing, handstands or headstands to reap the benefits and there is no required shape or size required to take part. It is accessible to everyone and helps you relax and unwind and work towards a better work-life balance."
For further information visit: www.namasjay.co.uk/cardiffmet
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