Blog Home

Episode #97: Introducing the Breath Yogi, with Neha Saxena

Grad Conn

March 15, 2021  •  18 min read

Today we welcome Neha Saxena, aka, The Breath Yogi, as we launch a (semi) regular Monday feature on mindfulness. But before we do that, we’re going to take a few episodes to get to know Neha, including the movie-worthy twists and turns, coincidences, and fate that brought her from a small village in northern India to the US. It’s a fascinating and inspiring story. And we’re only just beginning.

See all CXM Experience podcasts
The CXM Experience on Apple Podcasts
The CXM Experience LinkedIn Group


PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

Grad
Okay, welcome to the CXM Experience. I am Grad Conn, CXO, chief experience officer at Sprinklr. And this may be the first time in nearly 100 shows where our Jimi Hendrix intro is inappropriate. We’re going to have to think about what we’re going to do on the intro for Mondays.

So, this is a new format. We’re going to try something out here, which I’m really excited about. And that’s essentially, our Monday show from now on until somebody, who I’m going to introduce in a second, might get tired of it, is going to be featuring someone called the Breath Yogi. And her name is Neha Saxena. And we’re going to introduce her in a second. Today’s first show, we’re going to do more of an interview format, just get a little sense of where she comes from, and her perspective and all that kind of stuff. And then she’s going to start to actually lead us in breathing and concentration and focusing exercises. And she’ll probably educate me a little bit on the outcome of all those things as well. So for Mondays, we’re going to have to have some way cooler, way more calming music on the way in, versus Jimi Hendrix. But anyway, let me get started. Neha, welcome.

Neha Saxena
Thank you. Thanks, Grad. I’m really excited to be here.

Grad
Great to have you. I’ll give every everyone in the audience a super quick background. I first met Neha, wow, feels like maybe a year and a half ago. Does that sound about right?

Neha Saxena
Yeah,

Grad
And she was brought into the company by I think, our founder and CEO Ragy Thomas. But I know that Neha also works for my good friend, Diane Adams. Diane and Raji were looking for ways to help bring wellness and health to the employee population at Sprinklr, which Sprinklr is amazing at. Which is one of the reasons why it’s one of the top 50 places to work now. We have an amazing award for being one of the top places to work during COVID, which is incredible. And we’ve got fantastic scores now on Glassdoor, and people clamoring to work here. And part of that is the culture that Diane and Ragy have helped create. And a big part of that is actually Neha.

One little fun fact. We have an executive leadership team meeting basically every day. Four days a week we do a stand-up meeting at 9:45. And on Tuesdays it’s a longer meeting. It’s 15 minutes, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday. And then on Tuesday it’s like a two-hour meeting. And often it is much longer than that. Extensively a two-hour meeting. We start that meeting with Neha leading us in breathing exercises, and a whole bunch of relaxation and concentration exercises to get us focused and get us on track.

But before we get into all that, because I want to bring that benefit to everyone who’s listening to the CXM Experience. I want to talk a little bit about how did this happen. I mean, you call yourself the Breath Yogi. And I will tell people, you can follow Neha on Instagram, as the Breath Yogi. And you can also follow her on Twitter at NehaSaxena5. So, how did this happen? How did it start? What’s your origin story?

Neha Saxena
So, how did I meet Ragy? I don’t know if you know, John Kaplan from Force Management. I think he’s one of Sprinklr’s customers. He had shown up on one of my workshops. I teach several workshops, and he showed up on one of those. And it really, really transformed his health. And from there he introduced me to the local healthcare system. I started working with them. And then I decided to start on my own. This venture, I felt like it was my calling. And this was back in 2018. And I sent John a recording that had done for one of my executive clients. And he immediately took that recording and sent it to Ragy. And he’s like, Neha, you need to get in touch with Ragy because he has a platform that this content needs to be on. And that was the start.

I remember that first phone call from Ragy. And he calls me… all I know of him is from John and that email. And he’s like, hello. And I said, hey, hi, I’m Neha. And I was like, how can I help you? And then he turns back, and he says, Well, how can I help you?

Grad
That’s so Ragy. That’s hilarious. That’s awesome.

Neha Saxena
That was the start of the first conversation. And then I invited him to take a workshop that I was doing. He showed up… it was a five-day workshop. But we got to connect and then he was like, we should do something together. We went back, saw the impact on his health. So much like Ragy fashion, he wanted to share that with his Sprinklr family. And so he brought me on to start working with the executive team. And then slowly, he was like, no, you should become full time. And I was like, no, I don’t know if I want to do full time. I want to grow my business. And he was like, No, I think you should really just come on full time. There’s a lot we can do. And I’m so glad that I did. It’s been such a fabulous journey. And then I came here and met Diane, and she’s amazing. And she’s provided that space for me to be innovative and try new things. And it’s really been a rewarding journey so far.

Grad
Fantastic. Well, you know, isn’t life weird?

Neha Saxena
Yeah, it is.

Grad
I don’t know what your life philosophy is. Everyone’s got a different one. My core life philosophy, by the way, is everything takes two trips. I’ll explain it in a second. You can have it if you want it. But it’s been a really great way for me to stay calm. There’s Kismet and all these different philosophies. But isn’t it interesting how we’re sitting here today talking to each other, because of a thing you did with the person who met and somehow John heard about you. And it all comes together in really weird and wonderful ways.

Neha Saxena
Yeah, I remember that first phone call from John. I had scheduled this workshop that I was like, Okay, I don’t have enough people for it. I have only two people signed up. I’m going to cancel it. And I already…

Grad
That’s even better. You almost cancelled it. Wow! That’s such a great story. This whole thing wouldn’t have happened.

Neha Saxena
He calls me… I already called the other two people to roll over to the next one. And then I get a call at 7:30pm from John. He’s like, I want to do this workshop. And this is the only weekend that works. I travel a lot. And I was like, Well, I don’t even have a venue. You have to come do it in my club house. And he was like, I will bring my whole family. I want to do it. Can you please do it for me? And I was like, okay. And that is what led to all of this. Imagine if I cancelled?

Grad
Oh, my gosh. Well, it’s a little bit like my… so I’m, I’m engaged. I don’t know if you know that or not.

Neha Saxena
Congratulations.

Grad
Yeah, thank you. Thank you. But I actually stood her up like five times in a row.

Neha Saxena
Really?

Grad
Yeah. It was legit reasons. I wasn’t trying to be a jerk. I would say it was a combination of two things. One was, I was a little bit scared. I really wanted to meet her, but I was a little intimidated. And I was a little scared. So that was definitely there. But you know what Sprinklr’s like. And that particular year, I traveled 400,000 miles. I was going around the planet over and over and over again. That was dumb. I was a vegetable by the end of it. I did get Delta 360 out of it.

Neha Saxena
Well, at least you got something.

Grad
And then today, I just got another Delta 360 package, even though I traveled zero miles last year. Delta re-upped me. So obviously, I traveled so many miles in 2019 it’s given me a bow wave forward. But anyway, I was going to go see her on a Wednesday, and we had it all set up and ready to go. And then at the last minute, a business meeting came up. And Ragy said, you’ve got to come to dinner with me. I texted her and I said, you’re going to kill me, but I’m going to stand you up again because I have to go to this dinner. I rescheduled to Friday. And she’s like, just because you’re rescheduling to Friday doesn’t mean I’m available Friday. But there is this thing going on which we could go to together if you want to. We can see Aaron Sorkin and we can watch an episode of The West Wing at the Paley Center for Media. And I said, that sounds amazing. But every once in a while, I wake up in a cold sweat thinking, what would have happened if she hadn’t replied. She legitimately could have just said, screw you. She had essentially stopped dating at this point, so she was kind of done with this stuff anyway. I could have been too scared. It’s funny how life turns on these one second decisions we sometimes make. I always find that disconcerting at times.

Neha Saxena
Yeah, yeah,

Grad
How did you get into this in the first place? How did you get started? I get that John met you. But how did you get to the point where you’re doing these seminars? How did you start focusing on this? What’s your superhero origin story? Give me your…

Neha Saxena
You know how you have this philosophy that everything takes two times?

Grad
Yeah. I’ll still tell you about that. I haven’t told you about that. Yeah, just keep going with yours, what’s your philosophy?

Neha Saxena
Well, you know, my life, Grad, is… I’ve had so many shocking events. If I was to make a movie out of my life, I think it would be a really good, nail biting movie. I’ve had so many twists and turns. And expected things happen. And I’m a very intense person, so to speak. If I do something, I put my whole heart and everything into it. That’s just a thing my dad taught me. He’s like, you do something, you do it with your full heart. Right?

Grad
There’s an expression, right? Anything that’s worth doing is worth doing well. Have you heard that? But before we get into this, I can’t wait to hear this. But you said you if your life was made into a movie it would be really interesting. There’s a serious question here. So is your life a movie, is your life a musical, or is your life a country song?

Neha Saxena
I guess it’s still being played out. I think it’s a little bit of all.

Grad
A country-based musical that’s been made into a movie. I love it. I love that. Okay, that’s on trend. Actually a lot of musicals being made into movies right now. Right where you want to be. All right. So origin story. So, you’ve had an intense life, lots of twists and turns.

Neha Saxena
I pour my whole being into something, whatever I’m doing. I’ve grown up in India…

Grad
Where in India?

Neha Saxena It’s a small town called Talia. It’s in Uttar Pradesh, the north of India. It’s a very, very tiny town. It’s on the border of Nepal. And that’s my…

Grad
So near the Himalayas.

Neha Saxena
Yes, yes. My grandfather was a customs office, and that’s how my dad got there. But that’s a whole different story. But long story short, my grandma was into yoga. And she was a very spiritual person. She had polio. And my granddad was a freedom fighter. Imagine, at that time, she had polio, and she was a math teacher by profession. And she enabled all her children to grow up and make a career. So my dad became a doctor. And he started with a table and chair under a tree, to where we have a 50-bed hospital today. And he’s taught me this thing. There’s nothing you cannot accomplish. Whatever you do, if you put your mind to it, and put the actions behind it, that’s all you can do.

Grad
I love that. So but wait a second. I heard freedom fighter a minute ago. You went to doctor pretty quickly. But what was the freedom fighter part? That’s really interesting.

Neha Saxena
That was my grandfather. Because around that time, India was fighting… the independence movement…

Grad
Oh, from the British…

Neha Saxena
Yes, from the British. Most of the people in India at that time, their sons were going to fight and so my grandfather was a part of that, too.

Grad
So you come from the Rebel Alliance, basically. You’re kind of like Luke Skywalker basically, right? That’s cool. I like that. I got it. Okay.

Neha Saxena
So I grew up with a very spiritual influence, right? It was not such so much religious, but my grandmother was very spiritual. She believed in the practice of yoga. And yoga is far more than how it’s been understood in the West. It’s a system for high-vitality living. It’s not just about twisted poses, it’s so much more. And she was a very courageous woman, she enabled all her children to become independent. And so as I grew up with the spiritual influence in India, it’s not rare to have a spiritual mentor, right? Like a guru.

So, I had one. My brother was into this person, and I got into him. And because of my intensity… I was only a teenager when I got into it. So I was studying. And I was into the spiritual movement. And I got so intensely into it. So right about when I graduated from school, and I was going to start my college, I went and visited this guy in his ashram, so to speak. And my dad would not let me go, because, I knew if I asked him he wasn’t going to let me go, because India’s not safe. Girls are not traveling alone. So I just told my mom and I went with a friend. And I got molested by him.

Grad
Oh no.

Neha Saxena
I got molested by that teacher.

Grad
By the guru.

Neha Saxena
Yeah. And so that was like, a 180-degree shift. For me, I was so intensely into it. I had a practice which was four hours, at least. I was almost militant about my practice. And my father was getting concerned. He was like, what’s going on with her? She needs to write her TOEFL and SAT. And all she’s doing is these spiritual practices. And I went on that trip, and I could have been murdered and raped and nobody would have found out. But I’m just grateful that I’m alive. The way we got out of that and made it back home was a whole… like, there’s a book about that guy. He’s in jail right now. Like there were dead bodies found.

Grad
So the movie title is “Guru.”

Neha Saxena
But it gets more interesting.

Grad
This is a movie, so far. This is not a musical. This is a movie so far. But the movie is called Guru It’s like a horror movie.

Neha Saxena
Okay, it gets better. Okay, like it gets really better.

Grad
Well, I hope it gets better. It can’t get any worse. That’s a terrible story. I feel like I need to tell you my two trip thing just to lighten the mood here. But that is a horrible… how did you escape? I mean, don’t tell me anything you don’t feel comfortable talking about. But was someone else involved in helping you? Or were you just able to use your own wits to get out?

Neha Saxen
a
So without going into the details of it, it was… they had a whole system, right? They would get these young girls, and they would take their money. And they had no way out. But because I went to a boarding school, mom had always taught me that you always keep money on yourself. You never give away all your money. So, I had just the right amount of money to buy a train ticket. But we got lucky. It was just supposed to be me and my friend. But her neighbor decided to come. I had no idea this girl was also going to come. And she wasn’t so much into all of this as we were. And she always like, Neha look, everybody’s so scared here. This stuff is not supposed to make you scared. It’s supposed to give you freedom. And I was like, No, just do your practices. It’ll get better. But once it happened, Grad, my heart was not ready to accept what had happened. But my mind was like, dude, you’ve got to get out of this. And they have this whole…

Grad
Did you actually say to yourself, “dude”?

Neha Saxena
Not at that time, probably.

Grad
That’d be really awesome. Wow. You actually called yourself dude. That’s, that’s pretty cool. Actually.

Neha Saxena
I don’t know.

Grad
I notice you do say the word “dude” a lot., by the way. That’s not a criticism.  It’s very endearing. It’s a very 90s word. And I really like it a lot because it was a very big part of my life. And so I say “dude” all the time. The other day I actually said to Rachel… Rachel was saying something to me, I can’t remember what it was, we were just chit chatting and stuff like that. And I just said to her, dude, you got to let that go. And she’s like, “dude”? Alright, so anyway, so you’re talking. You’re talking to yourself. You’re coaching yourself up right? You’re coaching yourself up and you’re like, I got to get out of here, right?

Neha Saxena
If that girl hadn’t been there, that person who was not supposed to come, and she just made a last-minute decision to come. If she wasn’t there, I’m not sure if I would have been able to. Because she was like that sane voice. They had this whole system of brainwashing people. There were people coming up to us and telling us when we did decide to leave that if you leave, you’re going to go and die. There were girls like you who came, and they went, and they didn’t listen. And they had an accident. The only thing is, I don’t remember that girl’s name now. But I remember what she said to me. She said, Neha, we will go outside and die. But we’re not going to stay here. That was what she said. And I remember that night… there was some force that was protecting us, I guess. It was the synchronicities of the things that happened. The moment we decided to leave, there was this taxi that arrived. Somebody came in a taxi. So we could take that taxi, and we had just the right amount of money to make it to the station and buy the ticket. So I had to be on your podcast, and all of that had to happen, right?

Grad
Well, we need a break. We totally need a break. We’re going to stop right here. We’re going to come back with Neha tomorrow. But this is absolutely mesmerizing. It’s incredible. And Neha, thank you so much for telling your story. We’ll be back tomorrow with the CXM Experience. I’m Grad Conn, CXO at Sprinklr, and I’ll see you… next time.

Unified-CXM Experience
Share this Article

Article Author

Grad Conn

Chief Experience Officer, Sprinklr

Learn more

Related Articles

Episode #168: How the Voice of the Customer Fuels CXM
Unified-CXM Experience
Episode #168: How the Voice of the Customer Fuels CXM

We all say we’re customer centric, but are we really?

Grad Conn
November 9, 2021  •  1 min read

Read Article
Episode #167: Our Amazing, 1-Year Anniversary Extravaganza
Unified-CXM Experience
Episode #167: Our Amazing, 1-Year Anniversary Extravaganza

That’s right. A whole year. 167 episodes, and we’re still going strong. In fact, we’re just getting started.

Grad Conn
October 20, 2021  •  1 min read

Read Article
Episode #166: How Beautiful Design Makes a Beautiful Life
Unified-CXM Experience
Episode #166: How Beautiful Design Makes a Beautiful Life

It’s marketing day on the Unified-CXM Experience as we explore a gem of an advertising campaign.

Grad Conn
October 18, 2021  •  1 min read

Read Article

Products

Modern CareModern ResearchModern Marketing & AdvertisingModern Sales & EngagementCXM PlatformEducation ExperienceCitizen ExperienceSprinklr AI Sprinklr SandboxDeveloper Portal

Services

Our ServicesTrainingPartnersAgencyDeveloper Portal
English (US)
English (GB)
Español
Português
Français
日本語
Deutsch
PrivacyCookie PreferencesModern Slavery StatementIndex EgalitéTerms