Once upon a time, yoga was perceived as a passing trend, but has proven to be a stronghold throughout the world today. People from all walks of life have been converted into devoted yogis, after discovering its manifold benefits.

Athletes, celebrities and ordinary people alike swear by it, going so far as to make it part of their lifestyle. With its ability to instill stability, strength, peace and flexibility, yoga is undoubtedly a holistic workout that tones the body too.

Read also: The 12 trendy yoga brands that will tempt you to the mat

To celebrate International Yoga Day, we spoke to five prominent yoga personalities to find out how their love affair with yoga began. For part one of this series, we speak to three well-known yoga entrepreneurs who turned their passion into a career.

Atilia Haron
Singer, personality and founder of YogaOneThatIWant Studioatilia u3 930.jpg (original size)

Photo courtesy of Atilia Haron

How long have you been practicing yoga, and how did you find it your calling? 

"It’s been 12 years now. I wanted a change in my life. I was not leading a healthy life, working for a production house, without regular sleep, or eating and exercising habits. One day when I was having trouble breathing before a show and that’s when I realised I had to do something. Yoga seemed like the perfect and simplest (I was wrong) exercise."

 As an entrepreneur, singer and public personality (and also yoga instructor), how does yoga keep you balanced and grounded? 

"By knowing my body more, I learnt to appreciate myself more. When you appreciate yourself, you appreciate those around you too. It’s given me the discipline to arrange my life so that everything falls in order."

 What’s your favourite yoga pose?

"The simple Downward Dog because it stretches every bit of the body. It makes me 'melt my heart' (into the ground) and it’s good for my hamstrings, hands, core… it’s the ultimate, complete pose."

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Photo courtesy of Atilia Haron

 What’s your favourite type of yoga, and why? 

"I try to practice Ashtanga everyday. It takes lots of discipline and patience, because you can’t proceed to another pose until you’ve mastered all the earlier poses."

 What do you love most about yoga? 

"I love that yoga makes me more calmer, clear-headed, loving, and friendlier. It gives me goals and satisfaction when I can do or can stay in a certain pose for a certain time. My students’ motivation rubs off on me too. It’s a very positive thing – yoga is love."

 What’s your best memory of yoga? 

"My month-long teacher training certification in Koh Samui. It was during Ramadan and was a bittersweet experience. I stayed alone (I’m seldom alone) and I practised 9 to 12 hours a day, and only ate vegetarian food. I came back having found myself. I experienced so many emotions."

 How can one integrate yoga into their daily lives? 

"By opening your heart to yoga. Start with a couple of Sun Salutations in the morning. It opens up a lot of things; your heart and the possibilities of knowing your body better. If you can breathe right, you’re practising good yoga."

 What are some of the myths about yoga you wish to dispel? 

"That yoga is religiously linked. It can be if you want to, but yoga is essentially a unity between yourself and the people around you and also your own body. Everybody can do yoga. It’s not just for the fit, strong, and thin. It depends on the strength within, then flexibility will come."

Find out more about YogaOneThatIWant Studios here.

 Adelina Mahiyudin
Founder of Hot Yo Studio

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Photo courtesy of Adelina Mahiyudin

 How long have you been practicing yoga, and how did you find it as your calling? 

"I discovered yoga in 2009 and since then, I’ve been practising hot yoga twice a week to keep healthy (and sane). Two years ago I stumbled into my calling to open a hot yoga studio in KL as a way to help others experience the same, if not, the many benefits yoga has to offer."

 As an entrepreneur, how does yoga keep you balanced and grounded? 

"After dabbling in the yoga business I’ve realised that yoga is the yin to the yang world of business. After a hard day’s work, yoga is where I get to unplug and be in my own thoughts and senses. It’s a bonus that I get a work out along the way!"

 What’s your favourite yoga pose?

"Any chest opening or back bends like Camel Pose or Bridge Pose to counter-position our natural human tendency to bend and move forward."

 What’s your favourite type of yoga, and why? 

"Ashtanga yoga because much like hot yoga, it is dynamic and physically demanding, except it produces internal heat as a way to purify the body. It’s also a tried-and-true practice that has been around for centuries." 

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Photo courtesy of Adelina Mahiyudin

 What do you love most about yoga? 

“Its accessibility. A yoga guru once said, ‘You’re never too old, never too bad, never too late and never too sick to start from scratch once again.’”

 What’s your best memory of yoga? 

"Going through a month-long yoga training in the Himalayas, getting the chance to meet Dalai Lama, and to experience yoga at its birthplace. It helped me with my personal growth."

 How can one integrate yoga into their daily lives? 

"Do a few rounds of Sun Salutations when you need a boost of energy; they’re like burpees but slower so it’ll get your heart rate up. If you’re unsure about the poses, make it up! As long as you’re not in pain, you’re in good shape. If you want to see results and changes, you’ve got to commit to the practice. Yoga isn’t just a physical practice on a mat; much of it is studying and practicing mindfulness."

Discover Hot Yo Studio's offerings here.

 Nadia Hasbi
Founder of Fit Rebel Apparel

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Photo by Shaffiq Farhan / Malaysia Tatler

How long have you been practicing yoga, and how did you find it as your calling?

"Since 2000, as a student in the US. I had always been active in sports, such as taekwando, capoeira, running, weightlifting, rock climbing and hiking. Yoga complements these activities. Whenever the muscles feel tight, yoga relieves and stretches them."

 As an entrepreneur and based on your experience, how does yoga keep you balanced and grounded?

"The people within the community are wonderful. Almost everyone I met through yoga were positive and supportive of my entrepreneurial journey. In June 2016, I went for my first ever yoga and meditation retreat in Indonesia. It was the most cleansing and grounding thing I could ever do for myself. I came back feeling peaceful, energised and ready."

 What’s your favourite yoga pose?

"Drop back into Urdhva Dhanurasana from standing. I like this because it is challenging, and I was so happy when I could finally do it."

What’s your favourite type of yoga, and why?

"Acroyoga and Bikram. Acroyoga, for its fun and challenge. Figuring out new poses is hard, because it involves you and a partner to figure out the poses. Therefore, it is always more fulfilling when we 'get it' together. Bikram yoga because I get a deeper stretch and a better workout in a heated room."

 What do you love most about yoga?

"The feeling of well being that engulfs me after every practice."

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Photo by Shaffiq Farhan / Malaysia Tatler

 What’s your best memory of yoga?

"When I did acroyoga for the first time. I was a flyer and managed to do all the amazing poses on my base. To some extent, I felt as if I was superwoman and could fly."

 "How can one integrate yoga into their daily lives?

"At the end of the day, it really is up to the individual and to what extent they believe yoga contributes to their daily lives and well being. Yoga complements my sport activities by providing benefits that other workouts may not be able to, such as strength and flexibility."

 What are some of the myths about yoga you wish to dispel?

"That yogis aren't as strong as other athletes. I do a wide variety of sports and after seeing some things the hardcore yogis can do, I really do believe yogis can be pretty amazing athletes in their own space."

Shop Fit Rebel's activewear online.

Even high society love yoga too. 10 society yogis tell us what they love about their practice.

Tags: Yoga, Fitness, International Yoga Day, Fit Rebel, Nadia Hasbi, Atilia Haron, Hot Yo, Adelina Mahiyudin, Yogaonethatiwant