It's easy to assume that someone as flexible and lithe as Jasmine Chong has been practising yoga for most of her life. However, the founder and director of Lab Studios was once part of the corporate world, specifically in the private banking sector.
When Chong graduated from Singapore Management University, she immediately started working in the private banking sector where she worked for big companies such as Credit Suisse, J.P. Morgan, Merrill Lynch and more.
Though she enjoyed her work immensely, there was always something missing.
In 2012, Chong started attending yoga classes as a simple way to decompress and be healthy. At that point, Chong was also going to the gym almost daily in an attempt to lose weight and figured that yoga would help her to vary her workouts and to ease her sore muscles.
“I was a gym rat when I was about 20. I ran and did weights training every day, which inevitably made my muscles tight all over. Someone at the gym told me yoga would help to stretch me out, so I went for a class in 2009. And I’ve never looked back since,” said Chong.
True enough, Chong at that point could not anticipate just how much yoga would transform her life. In 2013, she decided to quit her full-time job and dedicate her time to yoga.
“I decided to leave my desk-bound job without any backup plan and went straight to what made me truly happy. I discovered that teaching and sharing about yoga was what I enjoyed doing, so I simplified my life by doing just that,“ Chong shared.
She started by completing a yoga teaching course and was later offered her first teaching role at Updog Studios in 2014. This was also where she met Betty Kong, one of Updog Studio’s founders who soon became Chong’s friend and mentor.
Chong began completely immersing herself in yoga as a teacher and began teaching multiple classes a week.
“I became a full-time yoga teacher in 2014, teaching up to 25 classes a week. I taught different iterations of yoga—Hatha, Yin, Vinyasa, hot, and even prenatal yoga,” Chong shared before adding that while she was doing this, she was sharing her journey online on Instagram.
“It was this online community that opened my eyes to a gap in the yoga market in Singapore at that time. My followers told me of rising class fees and a lack of accessible classes and personalised teaching for inexperienced yoga students. I realised how many people wanted to do yoga but it was not easy to sustain this practice without breaking your wallet,” she said.