Living One’s Yoga Beyond the Mat

Adelene Bik Yew CheongIpoh Echo had an exclusive one-on-one with Ipoh-born and raised Adelene Bik Yew Cheong, who recently conducted a two-hour workshop titled ‘Yoga on Back Care’ at the Ipoh Swimming Club, with proceeds going to Noah’s Ark animal welfare. Adelene spoke on her milestones on the mat and beyond, as a yoga practitioner. She teaches yoga full-time mainly in London, Europe and United States.

“I have scoliosis (a lateral deviation of the spine with rotation) since young. During my late teens in university, I experienced pain from having to sit in front of the computer a lot for studies. Like many, I had a past life which was less than balanced or healthy as I would like. Stress which was not well managed escalated to disease, illness, mental and emotional imbalances. And it doesn’t help that I had a stressful job then too,” she explained.

It was not uncommon for her to experience back pain, insomnia, migraine, panic attack and other stress-related symptoms as a young adult then. She had her first taste of yoga when she landed in a random yoga class in Ipoh from the recommendation of her sister-in-law. “It felt sort of good and I went for more classes. I could sleep better and manage the pain in my back. I then left my stressful job and pursued yoga full-time in my early twenties with other teachers,” the 39-year-old recalled.

She has learnt from both Judith Hanson Lasater and Donna Farhi for over a decade, two highly respectable international teachers and authors of multiple yoga books. The former is a physical therapist who has been teaching yoga since 1971 while the latter is one of the most sought-after guest teachers in the world who has been teaching since 1982.

Adelene Bik Yew Cheong

Started teaching since 2002, Adelene’s lessons are tailored for all ages. In yoga for the special child, her students would be as young as a few months old. She co-teaches with Judith and Donna too.

There are many styles of yoga and the list continues to grow every other week. Having studied various styles offered today, she believes in the therapeutic application of it once you’ve studied the principle of the practice. She does therapeutic yoga for the whole body with a particular interest in spinal condition, such as yoga for scoliosis (back care) and restorative yoga, the practice of relaxation for conscious deep rest.

“The areas that I specialise in now, when I offer workshops and classes in London, are very much the therapeutic application of yoga. I highly encourage all my students, especially beginners, to draw inspiration and interest from different teachers and studios initially for a month or so until you can connect with a particular style. It does help to deepen the understanding with one tradition before you move on to a new approach,” the amiable Adelene added.

All you need to get started is a yoga mat and two yoga blocks (or two bath towels as substitutes). “The most important thing is understanding the energetic pattern of the pose so that you can recreate it with anything, even a bag pack. I’ve used handbags and random stools for practice,” she said.

So, what keeps her doing what she is doing? “When I practise, it fuels and inspires me to feel more alive as a human being. The best part is the fire within that keeps you going because no one else could motivate you as much as what’s within,” she shared.

Moving to the United Kingdom in 1997 and currently residing in London, she makes it a point to return to Malaysia at least once a year to offer more workshops and share a more mature way of approaching yoga in Southeast Asia soon.

“I’m just hoping that through my continuous dedicated teaching and living, more people would understand that it is non-religious and non-dogmatic. It only aims to find balance in life, physically, mentally and emotionally,” she highlighted.

When asked about her favourite Ipoh food, she enthused, “I could just eat the hor fun (flat noodles) on its own. It’s so smooth and almost translucent. I have tried all sorts of pasta all over the world but it’s not this kind of noodle. I couldn’t find it anywhere else, not even in Kuala Lumpur.”

Interested readers can submit their enquiries to or arrange for an online session with Adelene via email at

Also, do swing by her website at or Facebook page for more updates.

Mei Kuan

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