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Young Entrepreneurs: Turning yoga into her career

In the last of our series on young entrepreneurs, we meet a woman who turned her recuperation therapy into a career

Running a business that focuses on relaxation has proved stressful, but this young entrepreneur relishes the challenge as it makes her feel alive.

Elvina Cheong is 26, a certified yoga teacher and since last August, she has been running her own studio called Freedom Yoga.

Her path could have been very different had it not been for a shoulder injury.

What started as a therapeutic means of recovery from the injury has become her career.

At 23, Miss Cheong hurt herself during some high impact sports activity.

Still wanting to stay in shape, she was introduced to yoga.

Not that she was a star pupil. She admits to falling asleep during her first yoga lesson.

But she soon caught the bug. The pivotal moment came when she started to go for job interviews.

Fresh out of university, the communications graduate had planned to work in marketing and advertising.

But it was during the interviews that she realised where her true passion lay.

"When asked where do you see yourself in five years, the first thing that popped into my mind was: 'In my own yoga studio'."

Miss Cheong is now living her dream. She charts her days according to the classes she has to teach, and her passion is all-consuming.

"I live in yoga clothes," she told The New Paper.

Her friends are so used to her in yoga gear that should they see her in anything else, it would not seem right.

"It looks odd to them. Like I'm like a dog on its hind legs," she said with a laugh.

This boss has made use of everything in her arsenal to push for the success of her Cecil Street studio.

She built up her confidence by teaching community classes at Yoga Loft and Lululemon.

She also tapped on her own yoga teachers' experience, even inviting some to join her team.

It is with pride that she talks of her team of teachers: "All of my teachers teach with the same integrity.

"I can be very picky because I really believe we need to have like-minded people."

Gathering talent was easier than preparing for business. That required finding people with different skill sets.

"There has been unsolicited advice," she says of those genuinely trying to be helpful and the naysayers.

Youth can be a plus and a hindrance.

Said Miss Cheong: "People don't take you seriously because you're so young."

Yet, she proved her mettle and stuck it out, even with the "mind-numbing" stress.

"I dream about work. I even wake up in yoga poses," Miss Cheong confessed.

The young yogi does not regret her decision.

The business owner-yoga teacher combination seems to be working for Miss Cheong.

Despite the challenges that come with running her own business, her yoga skills have given her the ability to step back and breathe.

"I am definitely more zen than I used to be. But I'm still human, I still get angry. Now, I know to take a step back and chill first."

Some may caution against mixing work and play, but the trailblazer does things her own way.

"My friends come to support me, they come for my classes. I've also made many new friends here. We even have dinner at the studio."

tnp@sph.com.sg

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