I first met Malvina when I worked in cosmetics and she came into store for a lipstick. This woman was all elegance, style and zen. We did some serious yoga and nutrition talk (I never was a good salesperson), we spoke about the modern yoga lifestyle website I wanted to create and two years later we were shooting her for The Yogi Files.
From her beautiful split-level apartment in Sydney, Malvina tells us how yoga helped change her relationship with herself. She shares how a sudden realisation on the mat has since led her to open four HOM Yoga studios, and how she has designed a conscious, creative, modern yogi lifestyle.
Yoga vs. Perfectionism
My first ever yoga practice was a 1-hour savasana. I was 12 years old and was having anxiety attacks from self-imposed perfectionistic behaviour and growing up in a high-stress educational environment in Singapore.
So my father took me to a yoga teacher. I remember a dark and serene space, where the teacher guided me into a deep savasana. I felt so relaxed and at peace that I still remember that moment today.
My second practice was a Bikram Yoga session in Canada at age 14. At the time, coming from a high intensity ballet background, I related to the physical and sweaty style practice. My body felt completely in sync with my mind and I was in complete harmony with myself.
Life-Changing Epiphany on the Mat
I remember a practice I had in a beautiful, tropical tree house platform in the heart of the city in Singapore on an early Sunday morning. It was a cool but humid day, and this tree house platform was packed full of people.
The teacher was teaching a style I’ve never done before, lots of energetic and repeated movements like jumping up and down, twisting left and right – perhaps a kundalini/vinyasa/hatha style all in one. It was amazing! I was in goddess pose, twisting left and right from side to side and breathing – inhale and exhale.
At the time, I was a bit lost. I was in and out of a toxic relationship. I just quit my PR job and had no idea what was next for me. I was living with my parents and felt so disempowered financially and emotionally on every level.
All of a sudden, in the middle of my practice, something completely clicked. Like not ‘just clicked’ on an intellectual level, but something clicked viscerally for me. All of a sudden, I knew that the only way for me to grow and become the empowered and strong woman that I envisage myself to be, was to completely change my relationship with myself.
Within a few weeks, I left that toxic relationship, packed my bags and embarked on a research trip in Los Angeles and New York for a couple of months. While I was in New York, a call came through from a Singapore property agent, saying, “The space is yours.” I went straight back to Singapore and the first Hom Yoga studio in Raffles Place was opened within a month.
What Drives HOM
I started Hom Yoga 6 years ago after living in Singapore and working in both PR and non-profit. I visited a few different studios, but none had the feeling I craved in a yoga space. I knew somehow I could bring something very different to the market – a yoga studio which has the highest quality of teaching catered to all body types, ages, fitness levels, in a beautifully designed contemporary space, which feels special, magical, intimate and personal.
When we first opened the studio in Raffles Place, Singapore, I was so nervous as I thought no one would understand! No one came in the first week, which made me doubt myself on every single level, but within the second and third week, our classes started to fill up – with great reviews, which gave me all the confidence I needed to grow the brand.
Since, I have opened the second Singapore location in Orchard Road and two more studios in Sydney – Surry Hills and Darlinghurst. My vision is to continue on the path of growing this brand, so that we go from being a group of yoga studios to being a lifestyle yoga group.
I feel one of my life’s purposes is to bring and share the benefits of yoga with everyone – the creation of the Hom Yoga studios has been significant toward fulfilling this dharma.
Keeping the HOM vision
Along the way, there were many people who came along and tried to instil doubt in my vision. At first, I would listen to everything and try to implement what everyone said. I thought it was the right thing to do to keep everyone happy. However, I realised after a while that I was losing track of my vision – some decisions I made just didn’t feel connected to my core values.
Sometimes, even my own staff within the company would have these fantastic ideas, but sometimes these great ideas do not align with my purpose and vision of where the brand is headed. I’ve learned along the way to stay singularly focused on my vision, and to keep revisiting this over and over again in every decision I make within the business.
“Being a yogi doesn’t mean depriving yourself of everything fabulous the universe can offer. But I am definitely conscious of what I buy.”
Yoga Brand Loves
I wear Hipwidth on the yoga mat. It is a brand I created and sell through the Hom Yoga studios and online. I love it because it is made from the softest cotton-supplex fabrication, and feels like cotton next to your skin but with all of the performance and technical elements of most activewear fabrics such as being lightweight and moisture wicking.
My favourite yoga mat brand is Jade Yoga, because of its eco-friendly, natural rubber. It’s so grippy. We have also used the same factory as Jade Yoga to create the same natural rubber Hom Yoga mats, you now see and practice on at Hom Yoga.
Travel and Destiny
When I was 10, I went on a family trip to South Africa. We went all over – Johannesburg, Cape Town etc. We stayed in a beautiful lodge in the middle of a vast land filled with all kinds of animals – lions, elephants, giraffes. It was amazing.
My younger brother and I went out in the middle of the night while staying at the safari lodge, and laid on the grass looking up toward the sky. The sky was covered with stars like a blanket, like I have never seen before. The entire night was glowing and glittering. Not only that, the stars felt so close to the Earth. I was mesmerised and felt something shift in me then. I felt deeply connected to being right there in that moment in time. That connection has been something I have carried with me ever since. A sense of understanding and deep connectedness – being here on earth to fulfil and carry out my life’s destiny.
Modern Yogi Lifestyle Choices
I love having nice things. It doesn’t mean that being a yogi means you have to deprive yourself of everything fabulous that the universe can offer. But I definitely am conscious of what I buy.
I tend to spend a bit more so that I’m buying clothes for myself and my baby that are made from natural fibre e.g. cotton, linen etc. I also almost always go organic wherever possible, especially for fruit like apples, grapes, pears where you’re eating a lot of the skin of the fruit. I lean toward a more whole foods, plant based diet and not buy any processed food.
I still love indulging in coffee, sweet treats, but I’m of the school that a little bit here and there is completely fine. I like using coconut oil as a massage oil, but I also still do indulge in beauty products which simply work well for me. Most of the time, I find the ones which do work well for me are ones which have natural derivatives – fragrance free, paraben free, no mineral oil etc.
Being Her Own Teacher
I’ve had the good fortune to have so many people in my life who are spiritual, deeply aware and highly connected. I tend to go to them for mentorship and guidance. However, what I’ve learned through them is that I am my best teacher. Trusting my instincts, following my heart, believing in myself and always coming back to the deepest place within gives me all the support with everything that I do in life.