From our Hot Seat series.
Jessica Lee has been teaching yoga classes and workshops across Hong Kong and beyond since 2015, focusing on acro yoga — where one person (the “base”) balances another (the “flyer”) in order to create poses inspired by a combination of yoga and acrobatics — and stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) yoga.
Lee’s love of yoga followed naturally from her childhood love of gymnastics and circus. A few years after pursuing yoga as a hobby, Lee began considering turning it into a career. When she had the opportunity to take a weekend intensive class with yoga teachers Briohny Smyth and Dice Iida-Klein, she jumped at the chance. She eventually went on to do her RYT 200 training (registered yoga teacher training) with Smyth, then completed her ACROVINYASA training a couple of years later. With the certifications under her belt, she quit her corporate job to teach yoga full time.
There’s no such thing as being too inflexible to do yoga. I hear people say this all the time and I find it as silly as saying your house is too messy to clean. Everyone’s got to start somewhere, and even someone advanced will have their own struggles on the mat, I promise.
Drop your ego! People get so caught up with wanting to look like the end pose depicted in yoga photos, books and videos that they don’t realize they’re sacrificing proper form and alignment — especially in chaturangas — which often ends in body imbalances or injury. Take the easier variation of a pose when it’s offered to you. When you feel like your body is ready, only then should you move on to the full expression.
With acro, people are usually fascinated but at the same time intimidated by the practice because it looks harder than it really is. I completely understand. We’re essentially defying gravity by counterbalancing each other’s weight or holding each other up on our hands and feet in acro yoga. When the basic elements are broken down into digestible chunks, though, it’s mostly about bone stacking and proper alignment. My favorite thing about teaching acro is when I base someone on their first flight — that look of surprise and joy on their face never gets old!
I’m learning more and more how the physical practice of yoga can change all aspects of your life off the mat. It’s definitely made me more mindful and aware of my emotions and how they affect my behavior. I’m a lot less reactive and more patient, and I’ve gotten much better at not taking things personally.
Yoga teaches me that everything is a process. With enough time and practice, I can achieve things that I never thought possible, whether it’s being able to move and flow with control or balancing someone more than twice my size on my feet.
I’m planning to host a yoga and acro retreat either in Bali or Thailand later this year. I would love to continue traveling and teaching my way around the world. So far I’ve had the privilege of guest teaching in Asia, London and Brisbane, but I’d like to make my way back to Europe and over to the US and Canada at some point. (Not just to teach, but also to visit, since I’ve never been!)
My yoga journey is constantly evolving. I never thought I’d enjoy a restorative approach to yoga since I was always drawn to the strong arm balances and inversions in Vinyasa practice, but it’s something that I’ve surprised myself with over the last year, so who knows? Maybe I’ll be teaching in a completely different style in the future.