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Find your teacher

  • by 100 Good Things
  • April 25th, 2016
  • 2016, April

Yoga Loft

Till this day, I remember my first yoga class. It was in the mid ‘90s at Shambhala (now named Como Shambhala Urban Escape). One stretch after another, I was bored out of my wits. So I returned to pounding the pavement. At one point I was even a gym rat. The endorphin and adrenalin rush was hard to beat.

The stars and planets aligned more than two decades later when one teacher walked into my life and took my breath away with Ashtanga yoga. I was like an ingénue. One awakened by the intensity of the practice and the worldliness of her teacher. But my teacher left as swiftly as she came. So my yoga journey began, finding that perfect teacher, and along the way, experimenting with various yoga genres.

I suspect it was not so much finding another teacher, but somebody who was exactly like her.

I hopped from one yoga studio to another like a lovelorn woman on a rebound, determined to find the same lover. In my head, there was a list I constantly checked.

There were all sorts out there. Those who vehemently frown upon props and modified poses to the extremely permissive where anything goes. Mostly, the universe relished sending me teachers who reflected everything I did not want to see in myself.

Facing a mirror of your imperfect self was not very good for the ego. My self-loathe was as incredible as it was heartbreaking. But I had a high threshold for pain (try going through childbirth without epidural!) and plodded on.

My practice took a different turn one day. Exhausted and rather disillusioned from my fruitless search, I decided to stop looking for that perfect teacher. I stopped going on dates with trepidation and expectations. I went to classes with an open mind and no labels and judgement.

Miraculously, every class became a joy. When there were elements I did not like, they did not bother me as much. The inspiring, the ho hum, I took them all in and let them go.

I have since met so many teachers who have taken my breath away. They all left eventually. Life is transient that way. And I continue to meet new ones and allow myself to be inspired.

Almost simultaneously, I stopped agonizing and berating myself for poses I deemed imperfect. Every moment on the mat was simply an opportunity to breathe and center myself.

The sense of ease and peace I was looking for when I first stepped into a yoga studio 20 years ago, and which I never stopped searching for, was finally within reach. The relentless search for that perfect teacher brought me home to myself. Truly, every teacher I met on the path had something to teach me, even if I never want to practice with some of them again. The best one resides in my heart.

The practice of yoga has become an integral part of my life. It is so meaningful that 100 Good Things can be part of the yoga community. Our raw forest honey and ethically made, minimal-ingredient body balms are now stocked at the retail section of The Yoga Loft, a pop-up yoga studio in Little India with a life of three months, till the middle of July.

Yoga Loft retail

There are other cool brands, too. The Sweet Stuff is all about, well, wholesome sweet stuff handcrafted by vivacious baking yogi Nicole Chung (don’t miss her Activated Nut Clusters). New Revolution Coconut has made-in-Singapore virgin coconut oil (vco), a light-as-air vco body spray and superfood-based mixes that allow you to effortlessly create delicious and healthy fudge, for those days you want to reach for something sweet. On weekends, you can buy cold-pressed juices from Ajuicery – you will love The Real Cool Aid that has a blend of pear, lotus root, water chestnut and coconut water.

Of course, browse through the yoga wear, pick up non-toxic nail colors, have a matching boho necklace and mantra bangle, and certainly book a yoga class and well-being workshop. Co-founder Edrea Hong says, “My vision was mainly to create a space for all things yoga. The space would be all about sharing great vibes, being authentic and frills-free would be key.”

Hong was inspired by a summer spent in New York City where minimalist yoga studios with warm, convivial vibes were the norm. “They do have free yoga sessions at the park during summer and a huge annual yoga event in the heart of Times Square. I volunteered and was amazed how many yogis turned up! People passing by also joined in the fun, despite wearing denims or skirts!”

She adds, “Besides creating a communal shared space, I also want to help bring yoga studios and related vendors together and to foster a bond in the community. The previous sudden closure of some studios have created some uncertainty. I am very lucky for my partners, Jac and Sandy, who believe in the concept and they have expanded on it to provide an affordable rental space for new teachers who often face difficulties when starting out.”

What does yoga mean to the founders of The Yoga Loft:

Edrea

EDREA HONG

I believe Yoga is a holistic practice in general, but the intention of why everyone does yoga differs. I started yoga solely as a physical practice, but it has since evolved to something way more. It’s been my constant in life thus far and has since tide me through the ups and downs I have encountered.

I used to practice only Hot yoga but have since expanded to being open to all styles ranging from Hatha, Vinyasa, Iyengar and even floating yoga!

My favorite pose is Savasana. It’s the absolute best few minutes where you get to soak into the practice you’ve just done! Oh and my mind finally gets to blank out during those moments which is kind of rare for my crazy monkey mind!

I loathe backbends and Hanumanasana; backbends because I have a back that’s 60 years of age, plus the extreme curvature in my tail bone limits my mobility in heart-opening poses at times. Hanumanasana, because as much as my hips are quite flexible, it’s the very pose I tend to take for granted.

Jac

JACQUELINE SOON

Yoga started out as a practice to strengthen my body and to control my mind. However as I started exploring deeper, yoga became part of my lifestyle and I apply its teaching to all aspects of my life.

I started out doing Hot Yoga, just like Edrea, but eventually exploring more into deeper Hatha Yoga practice.
My favorite pose is Savasana!

I have very, very tight hamstrings. It restricts me from doing many advanced poses. Over time, I learn to acknowledge my body and be patient with it.

Sandy

SANDY LIKITDACHAVONGS

I struggled with body image issues during my school days, putting unnecessary mental stress on myself. Through yoga, I have learnt to love my body and to accept myself for who I am, eventually finding peace between my mind and my body. Yoga to me is like sun to plants. Without it, I would not be able to grow into what I am now. From here on, I can only continue to grow in the light of yoga.

I like to keep a balance between the static and dynamic styles of yoga, so I do a little bit of everything – Bikram, Hot and non-Hot Vinyasa, Hot and non-Hot Hatha and of course Yin!

Currently I am loving backbends! I tend to think a lot, causing unnecessary stress to the mind and definitely to the heart. Doing backbends helps me to open the heart. It releases a lot of this stress and I feel so light after.

As I love backbends, I naturally dislike the opposite action. I absolutely do not look forward to any poses that require me to round my spine (think forehead to knee, rabbit pose). When I round my back, I feel like all my stress consolidates at my chest. But I will still do the poses anyway because my upper back is tight. These are the poses that will stretch me out the best. You gotta give and take in life!


 

The Yoga Loft is open Tue – Fri noon- 7pm, Sat-Sun 9am – 4pm. Visit their Facebook page for class and workshop updates.

 

We can revolutionize fashion

  • by 100 Good Things
  • April 17th, 2016
  • 2016, April

SueLicious 5

Fashion Revolution Day on April 24th was born out of the collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh in 2013 where over 1,100 people were killed and more than 2,500 injured during the morning rush hour. Most were garment workers toiling to manufacture to-die-for fashion, pun intended. The price was paid by the impoverished who labor to satisfy First World’s insatiable appetite for cheap clothing.

Everybody relishes a good (euphemism for “cheap”) deal. On the superficial level, one should not be faulted for being careful with hard-earned money. Cheap, however, has become synonymous with disposable. There is nary a thought being put into a purchase decision when the product is cheap and most likely shoddily made. It falls apart quickly and has to be replaced just as swiftly. It is cheap hence can be chucked into the bin without breaking a heart or two.

According to the National Environment Agency (NEA) in Singapore, “In tandem with Singapore growing population and affluence, the amount of solid waste generated in 2015 increased to 7.67 million tons, up by 159,000 tons from 7.51 million tons in 2014.” Of this, textile and leather waste contributed 144,200 tons, or about 120 T-shirts per person. Recycling rate for this waste type is only 8%, compared to wood (79%) and paper (51%).

In the UK, the 30 billion clothes discarded in a year can fill Wembley Stadium. The fashion industry produces 80 billion articles of clothing.

Statistics aside, we were personally mortified by what we saw when we were working with socially conscious businesses in Cambodia to transform offcuts into cushion covers. Standing in front of piles and rows of surplus fabric cast aside by garment factories, we came face to face with a reality: We have far too many stuff.

Offcuts

At the rate careless conspicuous consumption is going, no amount of landfill is going to suffice.

It could be the unbearable lure of retail therapy as an antidote to overbearing stress at work. It could a disorganized closet that somehow blinded one into buying another outfit because the existing 50 same-ish pieces are lost in the incredible clutter.

Sir Bob Geldof said it best at a recent Invest Asean 2016 conference at the Ritz-Carlton Singapore. He told a roomful of finance executives their economic data is irrelevant. He explained, “We need to have different models. We can still make money, that’s not a problem, but having reduced the idea of human progress to the economic model of growth, we are now just using growth as a euphemism for more of everything.

“You see, more is just a euphemism for greed. That’s because what we don’t understand about ourselves is that we are insatiable. The more we have, the more we seem to want.”

The collapse of Rana Plaza was a wake-up call. Our purchase decision can impact lives hundreds of miles away.

Fashion Revolution, in its third year now, was born on the belief that we can use our purchasing power to transform the fashion industry. The campaign spearheaded by sustainable fashion advocate and fair trade accessory brand Pachacuti founder Carry Somers has gone from being just one day in April recognized by 79 countries around the world to a movement calling for transparency and sustainability across the fashion supply chain.

Raye Padit who is behind Singapore-based Connected Threads Asia, a for-purpose outfit with values rooted in sustainability, says “Personally, I only shop when I really need clothes and would wear them as often as I can. Whenever I shop for a particular item I would look for better alternatives that I know that it is not someone from somewhere is paying the high price of that particular item. It means that the products are sourced ethically or is fair trade, workers are treated and paid well, and it has lesser carbon footprints. We need to be a responsible consumer and not just thinking of what benefit shall we get from that particular item and someone is paying the price for it.”

The Eurasian who grew up watching a fashion-loving mom getting her outfits tailored found Connected Threads Asia on the belief that we are not here to exist but to do a greater good. “For me, life is not about just getting the most out of it but rather what you can give to the world, society, to your community to make this a better place to live in.”

The six-month-old outfit Padit cofound with NEA executive-turned-avid upcycler and environmental educator Agatha Lee recently hosted a talk session with Kate Black, founder of New York-based ethical and sustainable living outfit Magnifeco.

To commemorate Fashion Revolution Day, The True Cost, a 90-minute film on the little-known and unseen cost of fashion will be screened at Impact Hub (see sidebar below). Clothes Swap, where you can swap one preloved outfit for another instead of buying a brand new piece, is scheduled for September.

Admirably, Padit, a spa chain executive by day who has neither formal fashion training nor background, is also the brains behind PeyaR, a new bespoke sustainable fashion label devoted equally to aesthetics and sustainability. The self-taught fashion designer recently created a series of evening dresses from surplus fabric sourced from Singapore fashion houses. Prices start from $250 for a short dress and $380 for a long piece.

He says about his creating process, “Going through the whole process of designing and making dresses is a spiritual experience for me. You can get inspiration from anything and everywhere you just need to open your mind and eyes. My style is about simplicity, minimalism, boldness and the appreciation of the unadulterated integrity of using pre-consumed surplus fabrics. I am inspired by a woman who makes responsible and conscious choices, as she wishes to be clothed in ways that reflect her style as much as her sentiments about sustainability.”

 

The merchandise at 100 Good Things are sourced with care, consciousness and understanding. Our consciously upcycled cushion covers and totes are limited in quantity and variety by available fabric. Every piece is limited in edition because we are working with existing finite resources.


 

FASHION REVOLUTION DAY, SINGAPORE
Day: April 24th
Time: 4 – 7 pm
Place: Impact Hub, 128 Prinsep Street
Event: Screening of The True Cost (90 minutes)
Live music by deejay Nickey and acoustic singer Cory Wright

One year on, and a SALE

  • by 100 Good Things
  • April 3rd, 2016
  • 2016, April

When was the last time you did something for the first time?

I asked for a window seat at the airline check-in counter when I was on my way home from Thailand two weeks ago. I would never voluntarily sit by the window if I could help it.

From my seat, it appeared the plane was cruising oh-so-slowly or even stationary. Among the voluminous clouds, I spotted another plane nearby. It flew so fast it was out of sight in under a minute. Only the moon, nearly a perfect circle as a full moon was due a few days later, was a constant.

Obviously my plane’s perceived slow motion was a state of mind. You bet passengers in the other plane were musing about their lack of my speed compared to my plane that appeared to be throttling ahead.

There have been many moments in life when I was impatient for progress to happen. With the benefit of hindsight now, I realized so many lessons quietly unfolded while I was busy tapping my feet, waiting for change that’s slow to arrive.

While working on a deeper pose on the yoga mat, it’s not sheer brute strength that will land the body in the final pose. Surrendering so I can bend deeper, I also let go of so many things emotionally and in my physical living space. The change in the latter appears to be more pronounced only because emptiness has vibrations so pure and crisp it refreshes immediately.

The day I opened my newly pared down closet to find only belongings that absolutely spark joy, it dawned on me my life is empty yet full. The change that brought me here was constant. I did not see it until I had the privilege of walking far enough to look back.

So 100 Good Things turns a year young this month. We lost track of time when we were consumed by necessary business. Merchandising. Marketing. Operations. Finance. It has been one steep learning curve after another. Certainly everything felt stagnated when we were wading in deep waters. We got to shore and another journey has just begun.

One year on, the memory of us scrambling at the 11th hour to put finishing touches to the shop is still vivid.

Being an entrepreneur – or mamapreneur – this late in life was a big leap of faith. It would not have been possible without a dedicated yoga self-practice that I draw strength from. Truly. And a deep conviction that sustainability and wellth (wealth + well) are the only way forward. I like to think this is a natural progression from two decades in travel and wellness writing, on top of a lifelong pursuit of natural living.

The short poem pictured in this blog, written in a plane on the way home from Vientiane after I was touched by its profound simplicity, is on the shop window. It is the very founding principle of 100 Good Things. That you and I are weaving seemingly unrelated stories, yet, the burning forests are not only depriving orangutans of their homes, we suffer from ill health as a result of the smoke haze. Biodiversity that took centuries to build is ruined. Ecosystem is disrupted. We are losing bees due to climate change, habitat loss, and wide and rampant use of pesticides.

What is a planet without bees? The scenario would look pretty dismal: very much colorless and we end up with very little on the dining table. The world’s most hardworking creature pollinates at least one-sixth of flowering plants and 400 agricultural plants.

Our raw honey comes from hives in Northern Laos. In this part of the world, farmers naturally practice sustainable agriculture and this in turn ensures that bees that forage wild in the forest build a nectar that is untainted from industrial contaminants. These subsistence farmers are well aware of our interconnectivity. Maintaining a healthy ecosystem ensures there is constant source of nutritious food on the table.

Our range of organic cotton shawls come from Laotian cotton farmers who assiduously practice intercropping which naturally reduce pest population on top of providing nutrient-rich soil. Traditionally in Laos, a blouse woven from organically grown cotton plant is not as much an anomaly as it is in the Western world.

The same can be said of our Kampot peppercorn, where synthetic fertilizers and pesticides are eschewed. The final product enjoys a Protected Geographical Indicator (PGI) status, just like how sparkling wine from the Champagne region can be hailed as champagne. Attaining the PGI status is no mean feat, mind you. There are strict set of agricultural rules and practices to adhere to.

Industrialization, urbanization, greed and insanely fast pace of life have clouded the innate wisdom we have within. Most human beings are so far removed from the natural world that floral and fauna are regarded as a world unto itself. The taller the skyscraper, the wider the disconnect between man and nature, between the mind, body and spirit. The three are intertwined and dis-ease of any sprouts all sorts of diseases.

More than ever, there is an urgency to bridge this divide. The Age of Aquarius has made this possible. Journeying together, this is within reach.

Joan

Founder

We are celebrating our birthday with everybody’s favorite four-letter word, SALE. Enjoy 20% off our ethically and sustainably produced fashion items and all varieties of Kampot peppercorn.

We endeavor to open Monday to Thursday 10am – 4pm. If you don’t work in the Balestier Hill neighborhood, please call/text us to ensure we are around – tel: 9383-1047. Other hours, public holiday and weekend by appointment, with no purchase obligations.

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