A conversation with Angie Yeo of Sassy Yogi

11 May 2017 - interviews

If there is one thing Angie Yeo, writer of the popular yoga blog Sassy Yogi and co-founder of boutique yoga studios, Yoga+, wants you to know about yoga, it’s this: Yoga’s for anyone.

“It is never, ever about the fancy poses,” she says. “Social media has a knack for caricaturising yoga as something only for those who look a certain way or those who are already fit. But yoga is an attitude and lifestyle; there is a whole realm beyond the mat.”

For Angie, yoga has been a journey of self-love and acceptance. As with most sports, yoga is as much a practice of patience and acceptance as it is one of discipline—recognising what you perceive as your limits, embracing them and learning to work with them.

When she decided to open a yoga studio in Singapore, she knew that many people doubted her choice of career because “it didn’t seem proper”. But as she elegantly puts it, “There is no singular path to success. Success can be anything you make it to be. Understanding that we all have a choice and [that our choices can change our lives] is empowering.

We speak to Angie about her practice of yoga and the quotes and lessons that give her strength.

The Mindful Company (TMC): What did you want to be when you were a child?

Angie Yeo (AY): I wanted to be an air stewardess because I had a very romanticised notion of travel and donning the Singapore Airlines kebaya. I think the Singapore Girl campaign really rubbed off on me! In fact, I held on to this ambition until just 2 years ago.

TMC: When did you first discover yoga and what drew you to it?

AY: I first discovered yoga when I was a freshman at university. Being a freshman, I was involved in the hustle and excitement of campus life that eventually wore me down physically and mentally. I was also an avid runner in the past and was plagued with constant injuries. I was hence looking for something that could soothe my body and mind. I decided to give yoga a shot [because of] a Groupon deal and I haven’t looked back since.

TMC: What’s the best advice you received when you first opened your studio?

AY: When I first started pursuing my career in teaching yoga and subsequently decided to take the leap to open a yoga studio, "grit" has always been the cornerstone of my values and what I do day in and day out. Being in the fitness industry requires not just physical stamina, but mental stamina, and I've always been reminded to grit my teeth and [put] my best foot forward one [step] at a time.

TMC: What is the biggest sacrifice you’ve made in starting or running your business?

AY: I feel that I have compromised on relationships, be it with family, friends or my fiancé. There are countless times when I felt I could have reached out more. I tend to throw the word "busy" around a lot but I have been very mindful that it is a convenient excuse. We always have the time—I know I need to make an extra effort to make the time.

TMC: What gives you energy?

AY: My passion for yoga and the students' smiles and energy gives me the energy to continue doing what I do. I always remind myself that I am very blessed to be able to do what I love to do.

TMC: What’s your secret life hack?

AY: Hydration! Always hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

TMC: Name a book that changed your life.

AY: The Defining Decade by Meg Jay. I stumbled upon this book when I was having major existential crisis—a rite of passage for all fresh graduates. I think this book has, and will continue to, transform my 20s.

TMC: If you unexpectedly find that you have 15 minutes free, what do you do with it?

AY: I would pick up a book. I realise reading is the only thing that helps me stay fully present (aside from yoga).

TMC: When was the last time you felt you failed and how did you overcome it?

AY: Truth be told, I struggle with that all the time. The perfectionist in me constantly sets sky-high expectations and I tend to give myself a lot of unnecessary pressure. Yoga and meditation has helped me a lot in this aspect. I struggled with quite a bit of anxiety in my university days.

TMC: What’s a quote you love that gives you strength or peace?

AY: “Love and all is coming.”

TMC: What traits do you most value in others?

AY: I value honesty. I believe that honest communication makes the job efficient, effective and creates a (home or corporate) culture that encourages healthy dialogue. I'm very averse to passive aggression.

TMC: What would you tell your 20-year-old self that you wish you knew then?

AY: That other people's opinions don't really matter, and toxic people are petrified of people who know exactly what they want to achieve in life. So don't sweat it. Just keep doing what you're doing. You’ve got this.

Yoga+ is located at Chinatown and Arab Street in Singapore. Classes are available for both beginners and advanced practitioners.

Enjoy reading interviews? Read our previous conversations with Yip Pin Xiu, Theresa Goh and Dipna Lim Prasad, Singapore Paralympic and Olympic athletes and Huiwen and Kenneth, ceramic artists and founders of Studio Asobi