As a self-confessed adrenaline junkie, yoga didn’t initially meet Alicia Pan’s hunger for fast-paced fitness but she soon found the mental and physical benefits addictive and never looked back. She went on to complete a 200-hours teacher training programme, followed by a 500-hour programme stretch with yoga expert Don Peers. “I loved teaching but I’ve always had a burning desire to own something of my own so I got straight to it and launched Yoga Movement,” Pan says. It hit the ground running and her husband, who was working overseas at the time, relocated to join her and became a co-owner.
Fast forward four years and Pan has turned her passion into an empire with her lifestyle brand amassing four studios and counting in Singapore. “The plan was actually to just have one studio and hire a general manager to manage it. We didn’t imagine that demand would be so high for the classes and we’d be exceeding our studio space so quickly. We took on a second studio and the same thing happened, it happened again with the third and now we’re at four.”
“The ethos of it is centred on finding a balance, not being too extreme and admitting that it’s ok to be yourself and that’s it’s absolutely fine to indulge ourselves.”
With yoga in high demand in Singapore and the rapid expansion of Yoga Movement, Pan understood that originality and integrity would play a vital part in differentiating the brand from competition and nurturing its progression. “Singapore’s market is saturated with not just yoga studios, but all kinds of fitness gyms,” Pan offered. “Our focus is always on accessibility, fuss-free and no frills. Yoga Movement is a lifestyle brand rather than just a studio. The ethos of it is centred on finding a balance, not being too extreme and admitting that it’s ok to be yourself and that’s it’s absolutely fine to indulge ourselves. I believe in light-heartedness and patience. Our instructors enjoy what may seem to be taboo to others, like fried chicken wings and copious amounts of wine.”
The identity of Yoga Movement’s brand is a reflection of her personality, which is shared by her chosen yoga instructors, and so hers and their personal brands on social media channels also play an important part of its success. “When I first started out, I used my personal network I’d grown as an entertainer to progress YM and my instructors are now fantastic at helping to spread the word and solidifying its brand image,” Pan says. Erica Tenggara, one of Pan’s instructors, vouches for the power of social media as a tool of promotion, especially in the case of Instagram. “Singapore is very much influenced by social media and on Instagram you can easily find a community you can relate to,” Tengarra says.
“Singapore is very much influenced by social media and on Instagram you can easily find a community you can relate to”
“Some of the biggest names in yoga right now are Kino MacGregor, Patrick Beach, Dylan Werner, Meghan Currie and ALL these teachers ‘made it’ via social media. There could be other teachers who can do just the same stuff and teach just as well. Only difference is that we don’t know about them because there is no online access to them. People can check us out on the likes of Instagram and instantly have a feeling whether they want to learn from you.” Tenggara’s Instagram inspiration is shared by the other two yogis on the team with Selina crediting the tool as being responsible for the success she’s achieved.
“It’s through Instagram that I found out about Yoga Movement, the place where it all began for me as a yoga student, and eventually as a teacher”
“It’s through Instagram that I found out about Yoga Movement, the place where it all began for me as a yoga student, and eventually as a teacher,” she says. “It’s brought so many yogis into my life. I even get yoga practitioners from all over the world connecting with me before their trip to Singapore. It’s always a sweet feeling when someone comes up to me after class and says that it’s my yoga journey on Instagram that’s brought them to YM.” Social media aside, Yoga Movement’s website has an active blog with interesting and informative content which Pan believes is also crucial for pushing lifestyle brands into the digital limelight. “With a lifestyle brand it’s about improving our physical and mental wellbeing and new practices and theories are offered daily. We need a platform to voice our insights, even if they are a little controversial – it gets people engaged and talking.”
Check out their instagram accounts and see how these yogis build their personal brand through social media: @senoritayogini @mayuko_matsuda @ericatenggarayoga @alicia_pan
Alicia readily reveals that her biggest challenge in managing her venture has been managing people for the simple reason that everyone is different and sometimes she has to make the choice between letting someone go because they’re not a suitable representative for the brand. On the flip side, the biggest reward also comes from people as she’s made wonderful friends within her team and client base and it’s become an inspiration to see how they’ve benefited from being part of Yoga Movement. When asked what advice she has for LadyBosses who find it difficult to strike a balance between their businesses and social life, she recommended that being realistic is vital. “It won’t happen in the first few years or until the business really takes off. You have to be willing to sacrifice a lot for your business.”
With at least 300 people on Yoga Movement’s waiting list every night, she’s definitely made her sacrifices but it’s a challenge she’s addicted to and she’d be quick off the mark to tell you that she wouldn’t change a thing.