Yogananth Andiappan is a true master of yoga. When he was just two years old he began to learn the ancient art. But despite going on to study it for most of his life, he wasn’t at peace. “A lot of people cannot afford a class which is taught by a trained yoga teacher,” Andiappan admits. Today, he’s returning the practice to its core purpose of healing those in need.

Inspired by his father, a renowned guru, Andiappan acquired a Bachelor’s and Master’s in Yogic Science and Naturopathy in India. His mission to make yoga available led him to the bustling metropolis of Hong Kong. “In a city like Hong Kong, stress is one of the common challenges,” Andiappan says. Here, approximately 20% of the population live below the poverty line. Facing hunger and homelessness, many are unable to seek adequate support for the body and mind. So in 2010, Andiappan founded Andiappan Yoga Community, an NPO that offers free classes to disadvantaged people. “When people are able to get better mental health through something which doesn't cost them a lot of money, it brings harmony in society,” he says.

The initiative has since grown into a movement challenging the elitism of contemporary yoga. Andiappan partners with local organisations to ensure citizens have an outlet to relieve pent-up stress and pain at least once a week. The classes also aim to help youth in Hong Kong find inner strength, support, and a sense of purpose. Conducting international conferences and workshops, Andiappan is building a world that places renewed value on health and happiness. “You can change people’s lives drastically through yoga,” he says. “I want to extend that to everyone.”