Being a yogi is a lifelong process: Soon Liling

This Yoga teacher says finding the right style of yoga that suits your body, your phase of life and your mental state is key

PHOTO: KATE PORTER YOGA


While the Yoga industry in Singapore has blossomed over the past 10 years, the core essence of what yoga really stands for may have been watered down through the rise of social media.


Those are the thoughts of Soon Liling, who owns Kate Porter Yoga today with her husband today. At 12 years old in 2021, Kate Porter Yoga is one of the older standing boutique yoga studios in Singapore.


Soon's own yoga journey has also come a long way compared to when she first started over 20 years ago. She went through the phase of idolising Instagram teachers as well and now find herself drawn more to people who are real to her, practise what they preach, and who walk the ‘yoga’ in their everyday lives.


She said: "Media today has perpetuated the idea that yoga must be performed with fancy activewear and photo-worthy asanas and this puts some people off. It is important to go back to the basics and remind ourselves why yoga existed in the first place."

PHOTO: KATE PORTER YOGA


"The landscape has become very competitive and marketing becomes very convoluted. It takes a lot of courage for a studio to not bow to the pressures of social media and how it presents yoga for the normal person."


Yoga a Great Complement to Sports


Recalling the time when she was first introduced to Yoga, Soon says it was a great complement to other activities for her in her twenties when she was doing sports such as competitive netball, running, swimming and hiking.


She joined a ladies-only club where she experienced the class led by a hunky teacher who stretched her out so much that the sore after effects after that first class lasted a week, and she had to go back to get her fix after that because of how good it felt.

PHOTO: KATE PORTER YOGA


As fate would have it, Soon was later connected to Kate Porter, who founded Kate Porter Yoga studio in the East Coast over 12 years ago. After taking on a teaching position initially, she took over the business from Porter when she returned to South Africa with her family in 2015, especially as Soon was very familiar with it and strongly believed in the ethos of the brand - Yoga for Normal People.


And what about Soon's own yoga practise?


"Being a yogi is a lifelong process. Ego was my biggest obstacle when I first started. I wanted to fold and bend deeper, counted my chaturangas instead of my breaths and my attention was more outward than inward," she shared.


PHOTO: KATE PORTER YOGA


"Today, it is the simplest things that makes my practice that day worth it — breathe well, move well and enjoy a break during the day to take care of myself."


Pointing out the modern day challenges of time limitations and changing perceptions, Soon believes that a yoga practice need not be made up of complicated asanas (poses) or take many hours.


For the average person, time is a luxury so if one can afford to put aside 10 minutes of a day to breathe and be with oneself, it’s yoga too. Yoga is also an activity that is considerably low impact and can stay with a physically active person till a ripe old age.

PHOTO: KATE PORTER YOGA


Soon shared: "As I have always had a very active lifestyle, my body’s wear and tear and injuries is a combination of everything that I do. My lower back has always been tender because of the high impact nature of netball."


"As I get older, I can feel more wear and tear in my joints in general," she added. "Yoga is low impact in general so even if I cannot run or play netball when I’m 80, I think yoga is something I can stick with."


Soon loves the type of yoga that emphasises breathing well, moving well and allows her to feel good at the end of the day, regardless of the style. Today, many of the teachers in Soon's team inspires her and keep her going through challenging times.


She said: "Many of the teachers in my team inspire me. They demonstrate professionalism and passion when they teach what they love. They provide a strong driving force for me to keep going. Another person who has influenced me a lot is Kate Porter herself."

PHOTO: KATE PORTER YOGA


When asked what words of advice she has for yoga beginners, Soon shared that she believes finding the right style of yoga that suits each person's body, phase in life and mental state is crucial. Given the variety of options available today, regardless of which yoga style one likes, you can probably find one in Singapore.


"Explore and discover different styles of yoga, but be safe. What feels good for someone else may not feel good in your body. Ultimately yoga is a journey towards self-awareness," Soon reflected.


"Weed out the noises, know who you are deep down and enjoy the process of self-discovery."


Kate Porter Yoga has two studios in East Coast and River Valley. To find out more about the studios you may visit their official website.


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