Happy New Year!

Yumcha Yoga is officially 1.5 years old.

In March 2013 when Colin and I first walked up the stairs to see the  space, it was dark, there were many cubicles in the space, and one of the cubicles had a massage table with some torn covering on it. I didn’t dare to imagine what had taken place in this space. And then i walked across all the cubicles to the end of the space and I saw the four big windows and thought… you know, this could be a yoga studio, Flushing needs one.

I didn’t know how it could happen. I loved practicing yoga but knew nothing about about running a studio. I know how to be a professor, make films, make comics, but I didn’t know the first thing about creating or running a yoga studio!

What I did know was this: Some years ago, I didn’t know anything about making films, or comics. When I started out, I was the stupidest person in the room in those fields. I never went to school for those subjects.

What I did know was this:

  • That if there’s an idea that catches fire in my heart and mind, it needs a certain fearlessness, madness, commitment to get it to completion.
  • That I had to commit to the hard work to make it as perfect as I could (it takes the same time and effort to make something imperfect, might as well make it perfect). And that every detail counts.
  • That I had to learn as much as I could about the subject by reading madly and talking to people who knew more than I did.
  • That if I followed the first three principles, magically, the universe would coalesce around the idea, sending the right people, the right resources. And within a few years, I would look back and would not be able to fathom how it all started.
  • And Colin and I would get to practice yoga everyday with teachers that we love!
  • And besides the location at 33-59 Farrington is such an unlikely place for a yoga studio that it had to be good.
  • And this place had the magical lights going up the stairs – pink and warm lights! It must be a pretty special place (I did remove the pink lights-those were too much for me).


I started reading online for articles about starting a yoga studio and many of these articles said “Don’t do it!” There are articles like “10 Reasons to Think Twice Before Opening a Yoga Studio” and advice like, if you want to run a successful yoga studio, you have to “marry one of those middle-aged divorced guys who hang out in the back of the room, struggling in downward dog, who have more money than God”.  For people who love practicing yoga, running a studio has so many business aspects to it that it takes the joy out of practicing yoga for the owner.   And, the majority of studios close within three years because they just can’t survive.

But, but, there are magical fairy lights going up the stairs, how could that be a bad thing?


Today, one and a half years later, and on the first day of 2015, the teachers, yogis and staff at Yumcha Yoga have made a studio that has an identity that is pretty special.


This is my list of what Yumcha Yoga is and isn’t.

Yumcha Yoga:

  • is NOT judgmental (we don’t have an “in”-crowd; we welcome everyone, regardless of experience, level or looks!)
  • is NEVER intimidating
  •  is homey (have you tried the super-soft toilet paper in our bathrooms! And you can choose to hang around and talk to people or you can choose to come and go.)
  • is clean (no shoes in the studio… EVER!)
  • grows our practice over a long time (our teachers help students who stay with the practice improve step by step, in a safe and thoughtful way, because it’s dangerous to go into advanced poses when our bodies are not ready; we may reap short term satisfaction but get long-term injuries)
  • is a space for cultivating mindfulness (no rush, no hurry, no fuss)
  • is open to new creative ideas, new forms of practice, new teachers (we have enjoyed different teachers bringing their different knowledge and teaching to the studio)

Today, on this first day of the new year, I am grateful for:

  • a husband and child who love yoga
  • Michelle Ingkavet who said, “yeah, why not” when I first called her about the idea (it’s your fault!)
  • my friend, Qianpeng who said, “you should do it!” (it’s also your fault!)
  • our former No. 1 Office Manager, Edmond Wong, who did a lot of heavy lifting when we started the studio
  • teachers who told me “the place has to be clean, clean, clean”
  • Paul, Leanne, Ester, Christina, whose own personal journeys light up the studio
  • the many wonderful teachers I have met through the studio, who are all seeking to make the world a better place
  • the many yogis who practice in the studio, bringing their stories, struggles, love, commitment, silliness to brighten the light within us
  • the kids who have made the space their yoga, play and creative home (have you heard their latest song, “Let it Fart?” – “the gas is howling like the swirling storm inside”)

And that I didn’t have to marry the “middle-aged divorced guy who has more money than God”… YET. (Well, it would be complicated since I’m married…)


Happy 2015 everyone, let’s help each other grow the little flames within us this year!

Yen Yen