A lawyer by profession, Robyn Lau is now happily doing what she loves – teaching yoga – with her boyfriend Hansen Lee.
“I’m the youngest in my family. There’s just my brother, my mum and me. My dad passed away in 2005. We come from a very close family,” says Robyn.
According to Robyn, her parents are the traditional kind of parents who believe their children should go to university and graduate with a professional degree. After that, children can do whatever they want.
“So I went on to do law. I graduated as a lawyer in 2012 and worked as a legal assistant for a while. I hated it!” Robyn realized then that office jobs are not for her.
Then her mum suggested she try something different, maybe a trainer. So, Robyn joined a property company and became a trainer. She quite liked it because she got to meet many different people. Being a disciplined person, she stuck to the job for 2 years before quitting.
“I just didn’t like going to work and being stuck in traffic. It’s not something that I’m passionate about,” she says.
She went on some soul searching and was wondering what to do next when her mum encouraged her to look for something to build character. It then dawned on her that she should teach yoga.
The start of the journey
Robyn started doing yoga when she was 18. Her dad had just passed away so her mum was really lonely and refused to come out of the house. So, Robyn invited her mum to go for yoga classes together.
After the first yoga session, Robyn felt it was a really good workout. “I like anything that is challenging. So after the first class, I was exhilarated and loved it even though I went home aching all over!”
That settled things for Robyn. She started attending yoga classes every day; sometimes twice a day! She enjoyed the challenge and found it a great workout.
One of her teachers kept telling her that she was really flexible and could pick up yoga moves really quickly. She even asked her to consider teaching yoga. She was just 19 then so she said maybe.
Then came the fall
Robyn trained diligently and then had a bad accident at a retreat. “I sat on a hammock and the hammock snapped. I fell bottom first so I injured my lower back.”
She went for physiotherapy for about six months. She was on painkillers because of the constant pain. Yoga was put on hold. But she continued doing some stretching. It seemed to her that going for a teacher’s training course was just not something that can happen anymore.
Back to yoga
Thanks to a lot of rehabilitation work, Robyn gradually recovered. Although she still experienced back pains occasionally, they were not so bad. So, she started doing yoga again eventually.
It was only when she quit her job as a trainer did she realize that she had always been passionate about teaching yoga with her boyfriend Hansen. On Hansen, she says, “He’s a very spiritual man as well. He’s really inspired me to go on this journey inwards; sort of like self-discovery.”
Well, that self-discovery made her happier and lighter. She decided that teaching yoga will be sharing her passion and doing something she truly believes in.
“I feel like the best work that we can do is to feel like we’re not even going to work. So now when I teach classes, I feel like it’s playtime for me and my friends are coming to play with me. That’s just a really amazing feeling,” says Robyn.
To become a yoga teacher, Robyn first had to announce her decision to her family. Usually, her mum would make decisions for her or whatever decisions she made were influenced by her mum. This time around, it was different. Robyn told her family that she was going for a yoga teacher training course, paid for it and left!
She joined the 200-hour course in December 2015 at Koh Samui, Thailand. The teacher was none other than Anna Sugarman – her inspiration – who’s happy doing her own thing.
“The moment I met Anna I fell in love with her and decided she’s the one I want to learn from. And she’s a huge inspiration to me because that’s the kind of teacher I want to be.”
The course was quite vigorous because Robyn was training every day and all day. And she had to become vegetarian, which she was not used to. Eating clean is one thing but to give up meat was tough. But with an inspiring teacher like Anna, Robyn successfully completed the course and started teaching yoga.
Living the healthy life
Robyn’s day starts bright and early with meditation and yoga at about 7 am. She practises yoga every day and says it’s not the same as teaching yoga. After that it’s breakfast, which usually consists of two boiled eggs, yoghurt with fruits and lemon water.
“I put on weight really quickly so I tend to really watch what I eat – I cut down on my carbs and I can’t take caffeine because I get palpitations. I tend to eat clean because we like to prepare our food.”
Robyn even bakes her own bread. Her rationale is “When we make our own food, we decide what we put in our stomach.” But there are times when she and Hansen have to eat out. When that happens, they try to look for eateries serving healthy foods.
After breakfast, Robyn plans her day, catches up on social media, reads some news and heads off for her first class. After teaching, she spends some time mingling around in the studio or goes home for lunch.
If she’s not teaching in the afternoon, she rests for an hour after lunch and then goes to the gym. “Just doing yoga is not enough for me – it’s just a lot of stretching and body weight stuff. But I still need the gym to do some weight work and mobility work because I put on weight very fast.”
After an early dinner, she heads to her next class or two. And then it’s relax-at-home time when she winds down, reads or watches TV shows. She’s in bed by 11 pm.
Being in a close-knit family, Robyn makes it a point to go for the compulsory family dinner every week to meet and catch up with her mum and brother. She only skipped it for one month when she was away in Koh Samui.
She makes it a point to spend as much quality time as she can with her mum on Saturday mornings or at lunchtime on weekdays. This is totally different than when she was living with her mum, as she stayed in her room all day. Things changed when she and her brother moved out – they make an effort to communicate. They even have a family chat room and constantly update each other.
“Once a year, we take a family holiday. I come from a family of foodies as well so wherever there’s a new restaurant opening, we make it a point to just go and try it even if it takes 2 hours to get there.”
“I would tell my younger self – do what really makes you feel happy.”
When she was younger she felt that it was the politically right decision to do what her parents wanted her to do. This went on to doing something “because of what my friends and peers will think of me.”
But she really wishes now that she had actually sat down and told her parents ‘I want to do something that makes me want to jump out of bed every morning and head straight to something that I don’t even want to call work and then get paid for it.’
Although she does not regret spending six years – 2 years doing A-levels and 4 years for law degree – to train as a lawyer, she feels like she wouldn’t regret it as well if she had made a quicker decision to not spend so much time studying for something that she was probably not interested in.
Robyn has some interesting plans for the future. For starters, she and Hansen have started working on a website called Ohmosapiens. It’s a community for yogis, people with a passion in moving and people with spiritual practice.
“Currently, we’re working towards that because I see some followers who would like to follow us or interact with us when they see all of our workouts. So, hopefully we can bring that community closer together worldwide and eventually be able to inspire, motivate people to do the same, maybe journey inward.”
Gradually, they plan to come up with workshops. They are also teaming up to do a movement called The Yoga Thing. Not bad for a lawyer turned yoga teacher, eh?