Tell us your yoga love story! How did it start, did you ever get annoyed or impatient with the practice? Do you have a preferred ‘type’ (hot, vinyasa, yin etc)…?
I ventured into yoga purely out of curiosity. I’d heard about the benefits of yoga and thought it would help me cope with my stressful modeling career. My first class was hilarious. It was in Taipei in a private studio at 7:00 in the morning. I was so confused and had no idea what I was doing; however, the teacher was very helpful and did not laugh at my clumsiness. Eventually, the rhythm started to grow on me and I kept going early in the mornings before work. Yoga became a personal journey that took me inwards, connected my self to my breath, and quieted my mind.
I have a teaching certificate but I prefer to practice with a teacher. I like to be guided through my practice usually in the morning, as I like to wake myself up by opening up and stretching. Although it is already hot in Singapore I prefer to take hot yoga classes in either Hatha or Vinyasa because it helps me finally break the sweat that I have been on the verge of. The sweat pours down and drips off my nose and I release any tension that may have built up.
You’ve just moved to Singapore fairly recently (when & where from?) – did you already have friends or family here before you came over? Has it been difficult to adapt?
I moved to Singapore from Tokyo where I had been living for the past 5 years. The decision to move was made by my partner Henry and I to be closer together. I do have friends here, which made the transition easier. I am used to moving around a lot and have many friends all over the world, so being in multicultural Singapore felt natural for me. Also, compared to Tokyo, where I had to learn a new language to get by, being able to communicate in English and Mandarin here meant that I was a local instantly.
What is the yoga scene like in the past couple of countries you’ve lived in? How does Singapore compare?
Yoga is quite popular in Taipei, but not as popular in Japan. It was during my teacher training at Pure Yoga Orchard that I discovered Singapore is actually a very ‘healthy’ city. While practicing smack in the middle of Orchard in Ngee Ann City, us yogis in training could pop down to the food court where we had a plethora of healthy vegetarian and reasonably priced food options to choose from. Having just come from Japan where the Japanese still think vegetarians eat chicken, I was astounded that we could make our own salads, wraps, buy fresh coconuts and cut fruits. It felt like such a luxury. I feel I can live more holistically in Singapore compared to Taipei and Japan and miss my healthy lifestyle in Singapore when I travel.
You’re a very busy media celebrity; is there such a thing as a ‘regular day’? Could you briefly give us an idea, & does yoga fit in daily or weekly?
I have been in the media since I was 18, so it is natural for me to switch from yoga business owner, to host, to model as it is who I am. I do not have a regular 9-5 job, so a normal day is full of scheduling and appointments. I am a Fly Entertainment artiste, so they handle all my media appearances. I manage my business and squeeze in a yoga class in my own time.
Today is pretty typical for me: I took a 20 min run as soon as I woke up; practiced some boat poses for core then handstands against the wall; showered, cooked breakfast, rushed to set to rehearse for a hosting job. Wrote this interview in the holding area in between event sessions, and will maintain Stretch City after the event.
How did you actually end up doing what you do? Is this what you’ve always wanted?
Through hard work of course! Contrary to popular thinking, modeling is a tough industry. Only the models with brains make it more than a few years and turn it into their career. Now I have moved away from modeling to speaking roles in TV appearances and hosting work. The yogi role has been with me through my career transitions and is part of my being. Yoga is my passion! Creating Stretch City as a yoga entrepreneur website took a lot of work, but will continue to be something I love to do.
When did SC conceptualize? Tell us a bit more about this; how easy has it been so far? It is still in its infancy stage- how has response been, & what do you want it to grow into?
Stretch City conceptualized after my teacher training. Yoga for me is lifestyle and that is what I wanted to share. While training I noticed that there are the resources to fully support a yogic lifestyle; however, there is not an open source network where ‘regular’ people can tap into this information and find it easily. That is how the SC theme evolved to become a sharing website with the information that yogis love. We launched on July 1st with 57 studios, 54 shops, and 59 restaurants (and still growing); and have received an overwhelming response. Mostly what we hear is “We have been waiting for a website just like this”. Singapore already has everything that we need to live healthy. The locations are everywhere! Stretch City will be the meeting point where all these locations unite with a common intention.
You know that TTT only carry Eco-friendly clothing. What are your views on this & what would you say is the level of awareness in your social circles?
I am a big supporter of TTT and what you stand for. I am in admiration of your shop and the challenges and stigmatism TTT has overcome to become a staple in the yogi circle. TTT has also been a big influence on Stretch City, so really, you are more than just a shop. You are cultivating the yogi culture and offering new possibilities for yoga businesses in Singapore. I am very excited for your online shopping web launch!
I don’t think there is enough awareness of eco-conscious shopping. We all buy too much and often do not check sources. Wearing eco clothing is not just better for the earth, it’s better for us. Especially work out gear! Your skin rubs, sweats, and becomes sensitive when exercising. That is why it is better to wear natural materials for our yoga practice.
P/S For those girls who want to recycle their clothing and shop for a good cause, I started a Facebook Group called Model Loving Care. 100% of proceeds from our pop up sales events go to charity. Pre-loved items are sold for $2 while designer &/or new items are sold for $10. We will have another sale sometime soon, so join our page for updates!
Does your boyfriend / partner also do yoga?
No, Henry does not practice yoga. He is very supportive of me and my practice and will never restrict me from going to a class. Henry is already a healthy and naturally slim guy, so I do not wish that he would take up yoga.
Last question – do you have a fav studio & cafe (doesn’t have to be in Singapore)…?
Hmmmm, my favorite has to be Sun and Moon Yoga studio in Meguro Japan. I went there regularly for 5 years and grew up in their tiny one room studio. My favorite café varies with location in Singapore. I would say any café with salads, a terrace, good coffee, and strong wifi gets my patronage.