ADVENTURER . FRENCH FRY ENTHUSIAST . NATURE JUNKIE . YOGI
What's your story? Hong Kong born and bred, I was in media and luxury PR for a long time. Amidst a crazy schedule, relentless industry gossip, and way too much champagne, I found yoga a great way to help me focus. Honestly, I lived years and years of that party-hard, ego-driven lifestyle before I realised how little it all really meant. I had such a false sense of success then. I became more and more drawn to yoga to balance me, began studying yogic philosophy and asking myself deeper questions. Eventually, I dedicated myself to a month of teacher training in India.
After living in Beijing for six years, I moved back to Hong Kong last year and now I live and breathe Hong Kong prana. I love teaching yoga to people from many backgrounds. In my mind, as long as you can move and breathe, you can do yoga. I had a chance recently to go to Whistler, Canada for a yoga summit – it was an eye-opening experience that taught me so much about myself. I came back to Hong Kong with a new sense of purpose.
How would you describe yourself? Fun. Outdoor-loving; I love the sea and the beach, I love nature. I’m a self proclaimed “Sir David Attenborough” – always was growing up and still feel that now. I’m an explorer; if money were no issue, I would travel around the world, or even the universe. I’m fascinated by the unknown.
How would others describe you? Light-hearted, humourous, detail oriented.
How would your mother describe you? Adventurous. Never settled. All over the world - sometimes all over the place mentally, too! But she knows if I set my mind to something, I’d be razor-sharp focused.
What’s the best job you've ever had? Yoga teacher, obviously! I love the smile on a student’s face after mastering an inversion for the first time. So often, it's fear that’s stopping us from doing whatever we want to achieve. I get to watch people overcome that every day and it's a beautiful thing.
And the worst? Hmm... Even a less-than-perfect job offers an opportunity to learn something new, right? Then, when the time comes to say goodbye to it, you leave with only the good memories... or you block out the bad ones, at least!
Favourite meal? If there’s pasta, I’m happy.
Favourite drink? Carrot, celery, apple and ginger juice. I have it almost every day. Or champagne...
What is one fact that most other people wouldn’t know about you? Most of my students and friends think that I eat super healthy. But I actually love fries and ice cream and I would have them every day if I could.
Any regrets? I recently got a Vespa and it's made me wish I'd learnt to drive years ago. Learning at the “tender age” of 35 wasn’t exactly easy. But, hey, shows you can always teach an old dog new tricks!
Ok, let’s talk about yoga, how’d you get into it? In 2008 I moved to Beijing with my old job and became more dedicated to my yoga practice. Finally in 2010, I packed my bag and went to India to do my first 200-hour yoga teacher training with Sivananda Yoga, in an ashram right by The Ganges. When I returned to Beijing, my perspective changed and I decided I had had enough of luxury fashion PR parties. So I decided to quit my job and started teaching yoga full-time - and I have never been happier.
Do you teach? Yep. I teach 12-15 classes a week in a few different locations. And on top of that I lead workshops and teacher trainings in Hong Kong and other cities in China. It might sound like a lot but I absolutely love being able to travel and spread my passion for yoga.
What was the biggest challenge when you first started? Finding my voice – literally… I first started teaching in Beijing and you really have to be able to teach in Mandarin if you want to get people to your classes. I was trained to teach in English so having to teach in another language was tricky, to say the least!
In the end, I bit the bullet and said to myself, “I have to crack the language barrier.” So I asked my students how to say different body parts or poses in Mandarin. Little by little, I got there! Later on, I became so proficient in Mandarin that I started doing translation work for teachers from overseas teaching workshops or seminars in China. So that learning curve opened a lot of doors for me. It’s all just practice!
Best yoga story? My 55-year-old student who did crow pose for the first time ever – moments like that remind me why I want to keep teaching yoga for the rest of my life.
Most embarrassing one? I had a female student who chose to wear super-revealing clothing in class. I could see things that she probably wouldn’t want me to see. I was stuck, thinking, ‘should I tell her? Or should I get someone else to tell her…?’. Dilemma!
What’s the biggest challenge or issue being a guy who teaches/practices yoga? It's really hard to convince other guys to practice yoga because they think they need to be really flexible. We easily fall into patterns with how we use and treat our bodies, and leaving that safety zone - i.e trying yoga if you’re a guy who’s never been there before – can be hard. You don't need to be flexible; get on the mat!
What’s your favourite pose? Hollowback forearm-stand or handstand. I just love being upside-down – headstand, handstand, forearm-stand; you name it, I love it.
What pose do you fucking hate? Grasshopper.
Yoga is... living, being 100% aware.
Your quote or mantra: Breathe deeply; you can always come back to child’s pose.
Interviewed: May 24th 2015
Photos by @michaeljameswong and property of BOYS OF YOGA Ltd.