Whether you are based in Hong Kong, Singapore, or other areas in Asia & beyond, you'll probably have someone around you who's a "yogi", "practicing yoga" or a "yoga class addict". In some cities, you may even find a couple of yoga studios down the same street, coupled with athleisure brands that cater to this group of growing consumers.
So...what exactly does a practice mean? How can you discover what suits you amidst the 'commercialisation' of yoga? How has yoga supported you to live more consciously?
For this series, we speak to a couple of individuals who embrace yoga as part of their daily lifestyles - both on and off the mat. We invite them to share what their practices are like and how one can be 'yoga' even when we are not doing yoga.
Felicia Sun, a Brand & Community Manager at lululemon, started her yoga journey as a means to getting healthy after a long period of illness caused by stress at work, that grew into a conscious way of living over time. What started off as a relief from the grind, became a regular practice on the mat that challenged her physical capabilities to creating possibilities beyond the mat.
Yoga creates awareness by connecting the body and mind through movement and breath. This awareness is the first step to personal development on and off the mat. "When I learnt that getting into a crow pose starts with letting go of the fear of smashing my face to the ground, it helped me understand that everything I wanted in life is on the other side of fear. Bringing this practice to other parts of my life allowed me to experience greater adventures."
To Felicia, a practice is regular participation in an action or thought to achieve your fullest potential, and a yoga practice is who you are constantly being that allows you to live your best life.
"Doing yoga has taught me a lot about being yoga. As a philosophy, yoga teaches many lessons about gratitude, compassion, connection, consciousness, trust, etc. Developing your own practice begins with a conscious understanding of yourself, and using that information to create possibilities – both physically and in life."
What is your typical day like?
Felicia ("F"): Working from home helped me realize that the corporate rush hour is such an important alarm clock for productivity. The flexibility and freedom to manage my time without a structure of the rat race took me by surprise. Creating a different routine from what I’ve known for the past 10 years of my work life took a bit of getting used to.
My typical day starts 2 hours before hitting the keys of my laptop. It begins with a 3 minute breathing exercise followed by a 15 minute meditation. The routine of sitting still with a cup of hot tea is my way of 'defragging' my brain. It allows me to clear my thoughts and list my day’s to dos clearly before catching up with the world.
A typical work day is followed by prioritizing items on my to-do list, ticking them off, generating ideas at meetings, connecting with our international teams on conference calls, answering emails, strategizing plans...and interrupting or ending the day with a daily workout during lunch or after work. This is followed by winding down the evening with great company at dinner and a good book in bed. Not both at the same time.
What does Yoga mean to you?
F: Yoga is a means to self realization – which is the first step to unlocking anyone’s potential. It is also my comfort. I seek refuge in the practice of yoga whenever I feel 'off'. It has taught me so much about compassion, connection and being grateful.
What is your Yoga practice?
Yoga is my way of being conscious. It shows up on the mat by bringing awareness to my body and pushing me beyond my limits. It shows up in my life with an awareness to respond mindfully. Understanding my unique foot prints and how it can contribute to the world is my life’s purpose.
What is the best thing about Yoga - what has it done for you?
The best thing about Yoga is how it has led me to my dream job! And I’m not saying this just because my boss is seeing this. The first time I got introduced to lululemon was off the back of another yogi in class. Never would I have thought I’ll be working for the brand. Fast forward 5 years, everything fell into place at the right time when I found a role that I love and a company that shares my values.
Is it tough to love #yogaeverydamnday?
Yoga has always been my refuge. I believe that there is no one way of practicing Yoga. There are many Yoga styles that have been far removed from it’s original teachings that still benefit many in different ways.
The beauty of yoga is in it’s diversity, may it be:
- having a beer in between your asanas to share a laugh with your fellow yogi
- levitating into a 'mission impossible' pose which teaches you to broaden your limits
- creating economic value for many teachers and practitioners to choose a different lifestyle
On Beer Yoga - what are your views on the activity?
If general fitness principles are measured by peak physical performance, then it would be limiting to think that yoga is only about fitness. Even though practicing yoga does often lead to physical benefits, the practice is a way of being – a philosophy. Yoga is also a practice of fun.
On another note, I think it’s healthy to consume everything in moderation, within your own dietary balance. If you’re having 7 beer yoga classes a week just to indulge in a daily glass of beer, then I’m sure there are easier ways to do that.
What lessons can you draw from your Yoga journey, and how does that translate to your daily life?
Wow where do I even start. Yoga has taught me a lot about myself. Self awareness is a way of being conscious for how my thoughts and actions impact people around me and the world. This awareness helps to keep me at my best so I can influence positively.
What are some ways you Yoga off the mat?
A very simple way of being yoga off the mat is to be present. When I’m having a meal with anyone, I’ll make a conscious effort not to be on my phone and give 100% of my attention to the connection with the people I’m with.
Do you take other instructors’ classes in Asia and are there any instructors that you feel the personal connection with or look up to?
I love a good Jivamukti class which is not commonly available in Singapore. I remembered feeling very connected at a class conducted by Kristin Khor from Pure Yoga.
Another one of my favourite teachers is Sherriann Melwani. She lights up the room with her positive energy and always gives a fresh perspective.
Whenever I need an energy boost, I’ll go to Angie Yeo’s class at Yoga+. It’ll guarantee a good challenge, sweat and leaves me feeling recharged!
What is the biggest learning point that has impacted your life recently?
One of the pillars of building trust, is learning to be non-judgemental - inspired by a video from Brene Brown called the anatomy of trust...to give myself permission to be in the struggle and not judging myself for seeking help.
Any mantras that you live by?
My mantras change as and when it suits what I need, and for now it’s letting go of fear – because everything you want is on the other side of fear.
What is your message for practicing or non-Yogis?
I am not a professional yogi to be handing out any advice, but for people who haven’t tried yoga because they find it too slow or easy, don’t give up yet. Yoga is a practice.
Are you an avid yoga practitioner - how else do you yoga on and off the mat? What are some ways you live consciously by? For non-Yogis, you may already be 'yoga-ing' off the mat! Share with us your experiences. Simply hashtag #TBWPXConscious on any of your social media posts or drop us a note at: [email protected].