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Pure Yoga's founding teacher Patrick Creelman
Pure Yoga's founding teacher Patrick Creelman

A chance encounter with a student at his Whistler studio 16 years ago led Patrick Creelman to Hong Kong. Since then, he’s trained 700 students as qualified yoga teachers and witnessed his studio Pure Yoga’s membership grow from zero to 75,000 worldwide. Creelman and CEO Clinton Grant knew their clientele: their growing roster of studios in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Taiwan and New York has satiated the appetites of yogis for clean, elegant and modern dedicated spaces to practise around the world. (And we think the newest Pure Yoga Hong Kong , in the heart of Pacific Place, also proves that a healthy body and vibrant mind are two hot items on intelligent consumers’ shopping lists.)

 

Left: Pure Yoga’s new studio in Pacific Place        Right: Creelman demonstrates his flexibility
Left: Pure Yoga’s new studio in Pacific Place Right: Creelman demonstrates his flexibility

The antidote to intensity

As the benefits of yoga have become better know the practice has gained traction worldwide, but astronomically so in Hong Kong. Creelman has an explanation: ‘A few reasons yoga’s so popular here are the density of people, intensity of life and speed at which people conduct their days. When a teacher leads you through a practice that makes you better physically but also allows you to switch off from decision making you walk out of class feeling elated and light. You can get back into a crowded lift and not feel so flustered. Yoga creates space in our bodies and minds, and the benefits can be instant.’

 

More than this, Creelman believes that Hong Kong’s wealth also provides a need for improved wellness through yoga. ‘We all face material desires on different levels every day for things or services,’ he says. ‘Yoga helps you feel centred and stabilised. Yoga is all about doing the thing that you don’t want to do, whether it’s Warrior Two pose during class or a tough task you’ve been putting off. You do it and get through it. That in itself liberates the mind and helps you complete things in life too.’


Pure’s new studio is a calming oasis
Pure’s new studio is a calming oasis

Breath of life

The asana or physical practice of yoga is what people are most familiar with thanks to flexible, strong — and, let’s face it, photogenic — practitioners flooding social media feeds, but Creelman places just as much emphasis on realising the benefits of meditation and pranayama (breathing exercises). ‘Asana is the action of yoga, meditation is the non-action of yoga, and pranayama is the gateway between the two,’ he explains. ‘For me, meditation is a big part of my self-practice — I’d almost say it’s the most influential part of yoga for me because it’s all about becoming friends with the mind.’

                                  

Creelman practices what he preaches: he’ll begin his day tomorrow like he does every day with a short meditation, strong coffee and brief but inspiring reading. He’ll then lead 100 students through an early-morning class that includes headstands, handstands, backbends, planks and a long savasana. He’ll be alert, inspiring and energetic, and most importantly he’ll demand the best from every student so that they can unlock their potential and finally free their mind and body.

 

‘I’m 44 years old,’ he shares as our interview comes to a close. ‘I’ve been teaching yoga for 20 years. I used to be amazed at these students who came in weak and ended up strong, which is still true. But now I’m really touched by people who just stick it out regardless of the outcome. It’s not about being flexible, or being strong. It’s about sticking with it. There are a small group of students who have been there since day one, and they were in my class this morning at 7am. That’s 16 years of dedication — they have lives outside of yoga, they’re older than me, but they keep coming. That inspires me no end. So my best advice to anyone who is curious about yoga is to just start, show up and stick with it.’

 

You can show up and stick with Patrick at Pure Yoga’s newest studio here 

 

 

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