We are in MingPao Daily!
So delighted to be featured in Mingpao Daily, Canada’s largest Chinese Newspaper! Grateful for the opportunity to have our creative and all embracing approach to yoga shared with so many in Vancouver, Toronto and the rest of Canada. Fun, fresh, yoga freedom for all! 😀
Read original article in Chinese here.
Restorative Yoga Happiness, Personalized
Find Fun, Fresh Yoga Freedom in East Vancouver
By Louisa Chan
Vancouver is a renowned yoga center, but it is no easy task to succeed in a saturated market. Zoe Ho began yoga when she was 29 in the Western Arctic of Canada. Growing up in Asia and Vancouver, then living in Arctic gives Zoe’s teaching style a unique flavour and expansiveness. Zoe’s emphasis on fun, fresh, yoga freedom – teachings oriented towards happiness and self-love stand out when most emphasize yoga as weight-loss oriented fitness. This year, Zoe launched the Republic of Yoga, a yoga space in Mt. Pleasant, an up and coming neighbourhood near downtown and Olympic Village, where she offers boutique yoga classes and One-on-one Restorative Yoga Therapy.
As I enter Zoe’s studio, sunshine beams into the high-ceiling loft through large open windows. I’m gently carried away by ethereal music and wafts of incense to another world… a world that felt both calming and deeply peaceful. The Republic of Yoga is in The Artiste, a modern live-work space dubbed as“the coolest place to live/ work” in East Vancouver. The live-work space vibe gives it a personal touch unlike any commercial yoga studio.
Yoga Begins in the Arctic
For about 7 years, Zoe was the creative director for a magazine in the Arctic. Her yoga journey began when a yoga podcast became the antidote to her occupational pains, and the challenges of living in an isolated and extreme environment. “I was constantly tired, both physically and mentally. At the beginning, even 20 minute yoga podcasts were very hard to follow, but I always felt lighter after in my heart and body, so I kept going.”
Zoe learnt that many of her Aboriginal interviewees were navigating trauma from the impacts of Residential Schools and their rapidly changing culture, and that addictions and other social issues stem from the pain of losing connection to one’s roots. This made her reflect on her role and values as an immigrant, and she often found herself attempting to help people instead of trying to create headline stories. She wondered if Yoga would help with healing and began teaching classes there. “In some places in the Arctic, people have never tried Yoga before. I once taught in a community of 400 Inuit of all ages – elders, kids and pregnant ladies. They were so open minded, we had a blast!”
Evolving Traditional Yoga
In the Arctic Zoe found herself cracked opened again and again – by its vulnerability and beauty – the dancing Northern Lights, the wildness of the land, the innate strength and resilience of the Aboriginal peoples. Her yoga practice supported her as she let go of being a “city girl” and embraced the freedom of simply being, wherever she was and whoever she was with.
“It is magical how Yoga allows us to embrace ourselves,” she said. “As Asians, we are taught it’s more socially acceptable to wear masks and to censor ourselves emotionally in order to fit in. Yoga offers alchemical tools to help us relax into who we are, releasing some conditioning and to feel confident in expressing our true selves.”
Zoe developed creative ways to make yoga accessible for all, merging yoga styles, music, storytelling, singing and movement with a huge dose of self-love. Weight-loss and muscle toning are valuable “side-effects”but not the main goal. Yoga was an artform that can be accessible for all.
Completing a one year RYT-500 Yoga Teacher Training in Singapore, Zoe then travelled and taught in Asia as well as North America. “Certification is only the first step, it’s through teaching and continual learning that you grow in what you have to offer,” she said. She is now an E-RYT 500 registered with Yoga Alliance, and has taught workshops and participated in teacher trainings. “One of my teachers Emil Wendel, whom I’m very grateful to, has over 30 years of teaching experience. He doesn’t need a certificate to prove himself,” she laughs. “Nowadays most studios see 200 Hour certification as a basic requirement so it’s become essential.” Her certification investment is approximately $14,000. “Otherwise yoga teachers can operate cost free, if you don’t factor in labour and time… some teachers teach rent free at outdoor spaces.”
In 2011, Zoe founded and launched the Republic of Yoga in Singapore, delighting in nurturing the growth of a yoga community, holding workshops at companies such as Google and teaching private yoga sessions. Many students became close friends, and the Republic of Yoga community remains connected through online yoga classes and Zoe’s international retreat gatherings.
A Boutique, Personalized Yoga Experience
On returning to Vancouver, Zoe introduced herself to YYoga and the City of Burnaby. “I had my first ever ‘Yoga Audition’, we had to demonstrate our teaching style within 7 minutes,” she laughed. Currently she offers yoga workshops, most recently the “Self-Love Play Lab”where she teams up with a musician to c0-create spontaneous songs with students after a culmination of meditation and movement.
Zoe believes in connecting with students, meeting them where they are at. “It’s not about being advanced at doing yoga shapes with your body, the learning happens in relationship. We don’t have to be overly attached to the idea of weight-loss and or to forcing our minds empty of thoughts. My mission is hold space in every class such that the student leaves feeling a little more loved.”
The Republic of Yoga focuses on offering private Restorative Yoga Therapy sessions and some boutique yoga classes, and Zoe continues to teach at larger studios. She appreciates how studios take care of business management, allowing her to focus on teaching. Yoga teachers are paid per class taught, and it would require teaching approximately 4 classes a day to meet the cost of living in Vancouver. To better manage time and energy, Zoe recommends that new teachers find their own niche and market that well.
Ever since its launch in Vancouver, yoga classes at the Republic of Yoga have been well-attended. Zoe finds teaching private restorative yoga therapy sessions especially satisfying, as she sees clients with issues such as insomnia, anxiety and depression have their symptom alleviated. Zoe engages social media to better share her yoga offerings. “Besides my website, Facebook page and Instagram, I also use Meetup.com and have online classes through www.YogaAnytime.com.”
Zoe is grateful to be able to offer her unique brand of yoga – where her passion meets purpose, and is currently planning her next yoga retreat in Bali, Asia next Spring. For those who want to join her for a restorative retreat, check out her website at www.republicofyoga.org.
Published Thursday, Oct 15, 2015
踏入Zoe的工作室，迎面而來是一大片落地玻璃，陽光將挑高的閣樓式空間照得明亮，耳邊傳來空靈的歌聲，陣陣線香飄來，感覺像是到了另一個世界，這個世界很寧靜、很平和。Republic of Yoga瑜伽教室位於溫東一幢藝術家聚居的工廈中，有別於一般商業化的瑜伽教室，這裏有Zoe的睡房、還有廚房，儼然現代版的「前舖後居」，予人家的感覺。
一次極地工作之旅，讓Zoe愛上了瑜伽，但那時都只是上網自學，「後來我回到新加坡，決定要做一名瑜伽老師，便在當地上了一年的瑜伽證書課程，取得E-RYT 500註冊教師證書。」Zoe解釋，取得證書後雖然名義上是教師，但仍需累積教學時數，才能取得更多認證資格。「證書只是第一步，真正磨練自己就要靠不斷教學，在教學中令自己成長。」因此在2011年，Zoe在新加坡首次以Republic of Yoga創辦人的名義進行教學。