#culture /wellness


Meditation in Hong Kong: Does it really work?

Oct 19, 2017

Sitting and breathing is really challenging

I’ll hold my hands up and admit it: I’m the one who sits in yoga class and pretends to ‘ohm’ while glancing at my friend next to me. In fact, the first few times, I had to practice some serious self-restraint not to laugh. Meditation, mindfulness and the spiritual side of yoga is completely foreign to me.

Right behind yoga, avocado toast and acai bowls, meditation has become the latest trend in Hong Kong. It comes as no surprise—adulting is seriously overwhelming. It’s become easier to react than to stay calm and to stay plugged in than to truly disconnect (from your phones and Netflix). There’s no time to actually think or process anything as we’re constantly distracted by work, a meme on Facebook or whatever it is you’re watching on TV.  

Related: Fitness Guru Hannah Bronfman on Booty Workouts and Dealing With Negativity

Before you scoff and roll your eyes, meditation in essence brings the focus back on you and just you.

Heidi Poon, Pure Yoga

“In Hong Kong, the pace is fast and we’re often multi-tasking,” says Heidi Poon, yoga instructor at Pure Yoga, where they’re starting to offer a larger range of meditation classes, specifically targeted towards beginners and first-timers. 

“Meditation moves us to the other direction. It helps us to turn inward, to care about our mental health and well-being. It’s time for ourselves, a wonderful opportunity of self-care that we rarely do.”

Not quite sure about what to expect for your first class? Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Sitting still is not as easy as you think

No position feels comfortable for long, which is why so many of us roll around before we actually fall asleep at night. Sitting crossed legged while you’re meditating will be very tough at first—any soreness you may have in your shoulders or back will be exemplified tenfold and any fidgeters in the class will absolutely infuriate you. The struggle is real— I was almost unable to resist the temptation to break rank, open my eyes and slyly shoot daggers at whoever it was that kept moving around in my first class. 

It won’t magically cure you 

If your mind is in a bad place, meditation can be counter-productive. Arguably, the biggest and most difficult step doesn’t involve meditation at all—it’s acceptance. It’s accepting all your feelings and thoughts; the positive and negative. Only then can you get the proper perspective you need to let go of things you can’t control and re-focus on the here and now.  

At the very least you'll be getting a good nap

Prepare to be overwhelmed when you re-join the outside world

After spending 30 minutes or an hour in #zenmode, you’ll slowly feel the tension (which you hadn't realised you were carrying around with you in the first place) return as you’re maneuvering your way around people who have their eyes glued to their phones. Everything will seem louder and more chaotic, and before you know it you’re back to your daily grind.

It's all about #smallgains...at first 

Eventually though, small things will change—perhaps you don’t get moody as quickly or you’re less likely to bite someone’s head off as they shove past you on the MTR. If anything it's a great reminder that you’re in control—not your life. 

Take some time out to relax—we're not asking you to get all namaste on us

Where to meditate in Hong Kong

Pure Yoga currently offers 3 different types of 30-minute meditation classes to ease you into it (or if you’re short on time) at all of their studios across Hong Kong, with two new offerins coming soon. 

Boutique studio Yoga Room offers Yoga Nidra (yogic sleep with meditation); 3/F, 4/F, 6/F & 16/F, Xiu Ping Commercial Building, 104 Jervois Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, +852 2544 8398, yogaroomhk.com

Or check out funky Red Doors Studio; Flat A, 21/F, Lee Fund Centre, 31 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Hong Kong, +852 2110 0153, red-doors.com

Not ready to go to an actual class? Try the Stop, Breathe & Think app. If you’re feeling emotional, stressed or overwhelmed, take a time out and plug in your earphones. Simply rate how you’re feeling that day (great, good, meh, poor, or rough) and let the app guide you through a customised 5-10 minute meditation.

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Yi Li Dawson