Stretch your creativity with yoga

Yoga instructor Jasmine Chong will lead one of the workouts at the inaugural FitnessFest.
Yoga instructor Jasmine Chong will lead one of the workouts at the inaugural FitnessFest.PHOTO: FITNESSFEST BY AIA 2017

Founder of home- grown yoga studio Yoga Lab Jasmine Chong is open to any form of yoga as long as it gets people to try it

8Q

Ms Jasmine Chong, yoga instructor and founder of home-grown yoga studio Yoga Lab, is not a purist when it comes to the ancient practice.

"I'm open to trying any form of it as long as it gets people to try yoga," says the 28-year-old on the dozens of new-fangled forms that have emerged over the years.

Think doga, yoga with dogs; or broga, a style of yoga geared towards men that adds functional fitness exercises to the mix.

"People think yoga is all about sitting in a quiet room and being zen, but it can be shaped into many forms," she says.

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Ms Chong, who is single, will walk the talk on May 21 when she conducts a Glow Yoga class at the inaugural FitnessFest by AIA 2017 at Bayfront Event Space in Marina Bay.

  • BOOK IT / FITNESSFEST BY AIA 2017

  • WHERE: Bayfront Event Space, 12A Bayfront Avenue

    WHEN: May 20 and 21, doors open at 9am

    ADMISSION: $69 for a one-day pass and $99 for a two-day pass purchased online; $79 for a one-day pass at the door. Free entry for children aged 12 and under

    INFO: fitnessfest.sg

Like what its name suggests, participants at the Glow Yoga session will be doused in neon body paint as they stretch into a variety of yoga postures while holding glow sticks and moving to the rhythm of thumping dance music spun by a DJ.

Ms Chong believes Glow Yoga originated in the United States recently. It is one of the trendy workouts that participants will be able to burn calories at during the two-day festival that starts on May 20 and is open to gym rats and fitness neophytes. Tickets start at $69 for a one-day pass and $99 for a two-day pass.

A variety of exercise sessions will run from day to night, including a Pop Pilates (pilates choreographed to catchy pop music) workout by American YouTube fitness star Cassey Ho; PoundFit, a full-body workout using weighted drumsticks; parkour; and muay thai.

Parents are welcome to bring their children as there are tailored fitness activities for juniors such as kids' yoga and jazz cardio. Children aged 12 and under enter the festival for free.

There will also be fitness and wellness talks as well as activewear and food such as poke bowls and vegan burgers on sale.

"Our message is that everyone should have a fitness lifestyle, and to show how easy and sustainable it can be," says Ms Tricia Sokolovitch, festival director of events agency The Live Group, the organiser of the festival. AIA Singapore is the presenting sponsor.

1 When did you first try yoga?

It was eight years ago when my personal trainer told me to go for yoga classes at the gym to stretch out my muscles. I used to work out at the gym a lot as I wanted to lose weight.

I couldn't do any of the yoga poses in my first class, but I kept going every day and realised that I was no longer thinking about losing weight. I felt more refreshed and less stretched out. Since then, I have never looked back.

2 Did you lose weight doing yoga?

Yes. I lost more weight doing yoga than lifting weights as I was practising yoga daily.

In the beginning, I lost 3kg within two months. After I quit my banking job and started doing yoga full-time, I lost 10kg.

3 Yoga Lab has three outlets in Singapore since opening last year. What contributed to its success?

The other instructors and I are present on social media and I believe that is how people got to know about Yoga Lab. We are all about taking yoga to people rather than keeping it closed and restrictive.

I also make sure that the teachers draw up a plan before they deliver a class so they are prepared.

We focus not just on making students go through a sequence of yoga poses, but also on teaching them how to get into the poses.

4 You have an impressive following of 105,000 on your Instagram account @jasmine_yoga. How did it get so popular?

I started the account in July 2014 because my friends were complaining that I was bombarding them with too many photos of myself doing yoga on my personal account.

I then found a community of fellow yoga-lovers on Instagram and started connecting with people all over the world.

Posting daily helps too. It's an amazing platform to spread the word that yoga is wonderful.

5 Why is yoga such a global phenomenon?

Yoga has been around for thousands of years and it is here to stay because it is not a fad. It does not just work on your body, but also on your mind. That is why people keep doing it.

I read online that yoga is not a workout, it's a work-in. I believe that.

6 What are the biggest misconceptions you have heard about yoga?

One is that yoga is not a form of cardio.

There are yoga classes that are very cardio-heavy, such as yoga flow and core, and you perspire a lot.

Another is that yoga is only for females. Men feel conscious as yoga is associated as a more "feminine" activity. But there are many kinds that require strength.

If you go online, you will see that the best yogis who can do every imaginable pose are guys.

7 Do you do any workouts besides yoga?

Do long walks with my dogs count? I have tried different workouts such as spinning and Zumba, but they do not give me the mental benefits I get from yoga.

8 How would you like to be remembered?

As a person who stepped out of the strict Singapore societal stereotypes and made it happen for herself.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 08, 2017, with the headline 'Stretch your creativity with yoga'. Print Edition | Subscribe