My Bag

Coping with stress with yoga

Founder of Hom Yoga Malvina Kang started the practice as a student to de-stress and now helps kids do the same

After living in Sydney for eight years, Singaporean entrepreneur and founder of Hom Yoga Malvina Kang felt it was time to return home.

The 30-year-old sold her businesses in Sydney and moved back here four months ago, with the goal of growing her business in Singapore and Asia, which will incorporate her new interest: mindfulness for children.

A lot has changed in her professional and personal life since she opened the first Hom Yoga studio in Raffles Place in 2009.

She opened three more studios - one in Orchard Central and two in Sydney - moved to Australia, got married, divorced and married again. She has a 21/2-year-old son, Munro, with her second husband, Australian artist Rob Manning, 67.

Through the flux in her business and personal life, yoga has been a constant. "Even if I'm super busy and running from one meeting or errand to the next, I find at least 15 minutes to practise yoga," she says.

She was introduced to yoga by her businessman father when she began suffering panic attacks while studying for her PSLE.

To cope with the stress, she did shavasana - a pose where practitioners lie on their backs with their arms and legs spread, typically to relax at the end of class.

Ms Malvina Kang uses guided meditation to get her son ready for bed.
Ms Malvina Kang uses guided meditation to get her son ready for bed. ST PHOTOS: MOHD KHALID BABA

She continued with the practice through boarding school in British Columbia, Canada, and university in Los Angeles, where she took classes with renowned yogis, including Americans Bryan Kest and Baron Baptiste.

Back then, the focus for the Miss Singapore Universe 2008 runner-up was using hot yoga to get fit and toned.

However, meeting Manning, her partner of five years whom she married in July, and giving birth to their son, have changed her perspective. These days, her interests have shifted towards the meditative, philosophical and tantric side of yoga.

Motherhood and becoming more meditative have opened her eyes to the need for mindfulness activities for children.

Mindfulness, she says, is especially important for children who grow up in a high-pressure environment, connected to gadgets and smartphones.

" We say we want to raise creative, innovative children, but how can they do that when they are never even given space to be bored?"

She also uses guided meditation to get her son, who is often active and jumping around at night, to calm down and be ready for bed.

"You can see the change immediately, when he lies down and his breathing slows. That's where the inspiration started. I realised how mindfulness changed my child's life and how it could help other children too."

  • ON HER BAG

  • This black Mansur Gavriel tote is my everyday bag. Designed in New York City and made in Italy using quality Italian leather, it fits everything I need on a busy day - from a book and my camera to snacks and an extra set of clothes for my son.

So, in January, Ms Kang will launch Mini Glow Yoga Club (miniglowyoga.com), a wellness club dedicated to children in the two Hom Yoga studios.

Parents can practise yoga in one room, while their children (in age groups from two to four and five to 12) will learn yoga and mindfulness exercises from an instructor in another.

For example, children will be guided into the tree pose, which helps connect their bodies with their breath, mind and environment, establishing a sense of connection with the world.

Ms Kang says: "It's a subtle exercise which allows a child to understand that he is part of a bigger universe and to connect with his surroundings."

There will also be a Mums And Bubs class for infants from four weeks to about 10 months.

It is a natural progression for Ms Kang, whose studios already reflect her minimalist style and favourite products, including yoga gear, perfume and organic snacks, which are sold there.

"Hom is very much a reflection of me, completely inspired by what I like and how I live my life.

"Motherhood changes you and the business changes with you," she says.


Things in her bag 

Ms Malvina Kang uses guided meditation to get her son ready for bed.

ANTIQUE FABRIC POUCH FROM CHIANG MAI

I bought this at a market in Chiang Mai. It holds my Chanel and Nars lipsticks.

EGYPTIAN MAGIC CREAM

I love this all-purpose cream, which is available at Sephora stores. It is very hydrating and has no additives, preservatives, fragrance, chemicals or parabens.

OLYMPUS OM-D CAMERA

I take my camera with me everywhere I go. The quality of the pictures is so much better than those taken with a smartphone.

CARD FROM HER HUSBAND

I got this card from my husband on our wedding day in July. He painted it himself and I love it. I carry it with me all the time. I take it out and read it every once in a while.

COCKTAIL CLUTCH BY LUCY FOLK

I took this clutch by Australian lifestyle brand Lucy Folk to a party once and put all my money and credit cards inside. It has been my wallet since.

COULEUR FIL NOTEBOOK

I carry a notebook with me wherever I go. I bought this at Japanese lifestyle store Tokyu Hands in Orchard Central. I record my ideas, inspirations and notes from pre-and post-natal training.

SUPERFOOD BITES BY NATURE'S SIGNATURE

These organic dried figs and goji berries are my favourite snacks when I am on the go. My son, Munro, loves them too.

AYU PERFUME

This Australian brand of hand-blended oils uses moisturising jojoba oil as a base. It is natural, compared with most other perfumes, which contain chemicals.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 23, 2017, with the headline 'Coping with stress with yoga'. Print Edition | Subscribe