Lise Carpenter – walks by Yoga BamBam after teaching her once a week Saturday morning Flow Yoga Class.
There is so much to do around Pound Lane, there are Art galleries, Antique shops, Markets,Temples, Gardens, Children’s Play Areas and a good selection of cafes and restaurants. Now the district has a Yoga studio which opened last year called Yoga BamBam. Melanie B the owner of Yoga BamBam shares her Love Story with Hong Kong and the district near Pound Lane.
“I always wanted to have a Yoga studio on the ground floor so that we could be a real part of the daily life of the neighbourhood. Community is very important to me, because Yoga BamBam is in a pedestrian, car free zone, life here is more relaxed”
Melanie found the Sheung Wan location last year, immediately within the very same day she signed the real estate contract and decided to build a Yoga studio in the ancient Tai Pin Shan neighbourhood.
“I love this historical district of Pound Lane, it is quite unique and reminds me of a very magical area that I love in Paris called Le Sacré Coeur (The sacred Heart .)
We sat under the shade of the front deck of Yoga BamBam, the front doors were wide open, birds were singing in the near by trees. As people passed by they smiled at us, some people said ‘Hello’. Some local kids came over to play with Melanie, they practised their English, she clumsily tried to speak Cantonese. I helped to translate between Melanie and the kids. Later on, I watched rather surprised as Melanie even gave a hug to an very old local resident who was sifting through the trash looking for scrap metal. The old lady pretended to refuse the loving attention yet seemed quite used to Melanie. She told me that Melanie had been following her around taking photos of her since the Yoga studio opened. She shrugged her shoulders and smiled.
Yoga BamBam is located between Central and the Mid levels, its about a 10 minutes walk from the Midlevel escalator and the new Bowen Street MTR exit. Pound Lane is a lovely area, even though the Yoga studio is at street level it is quiet and far away from the crowds.
Melanie shook her head “Life here in Hong Kong can be so hectic, Yoga BamBam is a peaceful sanctuary, time here seems slower. Most of the neighbours here are very old, they don’t speak English, we communicate in smiles. They are really friendly we invite them to all our parties. It’s so beautiful here, a perfect place to have a Yoga studio. It’s difficult to imagine that we are so close to the craziness of LKF and Central. It is so calm on Pound Lane that I sometimes nap on the front deck. One afternoon I was meditating on the deck, I must have fallen asleep. I woke up it was night time. I’d left the studio doors wide open, my bag was outside , my phone next to me. Only in Hong Kong can you get away with doing such things”
Melanie moved to HK with her husband and 2 small daughters 2 years ago. They immediately bought a house in Sheung Wan within 4 days after their arrival. She laughed aloud “I believe in love at first sight, when it’s right, it’s right, you have to trust your instincts and seize the moment.”
Melanie is British Jamaican and has lived in England, Jamaica, Spain, America and France. After her first visit to Hong Kong she decided that this was the place to raise her family, “ Hong Kong is so multi- cultural, it is a country which is very well balanced between its past and its future. I’m intrigued by the local culture and its ancient wisdom. I recently quit my Western Doctor and now have a Chinese Doctor who is healing my old ski injuries.
Every morning as I take a bath I wake up to the same far away scene of a group of elderly people practising Tai Chi in a park near my home. I just absolutely love Hong Kong. It makes sense to raise my children in such a respectful environment. I had the choice to live in New York City or Hong Kong, I decided upon HK as I find the life and the people here to be truly gracious. HK is a safe place to raise children, we feel on total security here which was never the case anywhere else where I have lived.
Sometimes during the Aerial Arts Academy classes or the AcroYoga classes Melanie places chairs on the terrace for passers by to sit and watch. She explains that Yoga BamBam was designed to be a place of sharing joy. Yoga should not be hidden away behind doors and walls just for members only. When we first opened the elderly neighbours would watch, so I put a few chairs out to make them feel involved in our community. Now that we have been open a year they are used to us. Now they just go about their daily lives, they have accepted our crazy ways “
As we are quietly sit talking in front of the studio, a Yoga class is coming to an end. A father walks by the studio and stops as his 3 year old daughter starts to mimic the Yoga students inside the studio. The little girl stretches down towards her toes, legs straight and mimics the students. I start to understand the magic and the logic of Yoga BamBam.
When Yoga BamBam first opened they placed a publicity for teachers on the Internet. They received hundreds of applicants, Melanie basically ignored them all, all the Cv’s were kind of identical. It was my intention to break the mold by creating Yoga BamBam. I did not want the studio to be like the other corporate style studios out there.
Mosly all the teachers at Yoga BamBam are friends or introduced to me by friends. We do things differently at Yoga BamBams. Of course the teachers are all qualified Hatha Yoga instructors but they are chosen because they have character and are passionate rebels. Many Yoga BamBam teachers are business or social leaders, or brave entrepreneurs. They all have full time successful careers and simply teach at Yoga BamBam once or twice a week to fulfil a part of themselves that their professional lives can not give them.
They all dreamt of being full time Yoga teachers but due to their high profile, and high paying jobs just couldn’t see the logic of throwing away their careers. I personally think that they made the right decision as being a full time Yoga teacher is more of a fantasy job than a viable life long profession. However each to their own until 2 years ago I was a full time Yoga teacher myself.
Matina Cheung teachers ‘Yoga with Basic Cantonese for Expats and Lucky Locals’ at Yoga BamBam. As well as being a Yoga teacher she is an artist and professional photographer. She enjoys teaching at Yoga BamBam because she likes the relaxed ambiance. She is fairly quiet and prefers teaching in a peaceful studio.
“I can be myself at Yoga BamBam, it’s small, I enjoy the cozy protective feel of the studio. There isn’t a studio manager breathing down your neck, there are no sales staff, we don’t even have a receptionist. It’s just me and my students, we have all the studio to ourselves. Yoga BamBam has just 12 Yoga mats this allows me to have a close relationship with my students. We are usually about 4 – 7 in the class. I like the feeling of these almost semi private classes. I don’t feel like I’m performing on a stage like it can feel like when you are teaching large crowds. It is just me with students, there is no show nor a need for me to be extroverted.
I like to follow each student, to have a close relationship to listen to what they are saying and what their bodies are telling me.
A great advantage of teaching at Yoga BamBam is that all the teachers support each other. We all like to travel a lot and live our lives fully. Melanie also likes to travels, she has set up a system where we all cover for each other which allows us to be independent and not chained down to ‘a job’. The teachers here are free.
I really appreciate having such a flexible teaching schedule as besides from being a photographer I am model.”
I begin to talk about sharing with Matina. She introduces me to the concept of the art work covering all the studio mirrors. ” This is what Yoga BamBam is about, we are encouraged to explore all our talents. Melanie gives everybody including herself the permission to experiment, create and even make mistakes. It is very liberating here. The students all understand that Yoga BamBam is different to what they are used to.
Matina loves to share her passion with her students “My students come to class to relax and learn a few phrases and words of Cantonese. We are in a chilled out place, the students are not under stress to learn Cantonese with text books, I just ask them to open up and feel the language and enjoy the Yoga class. Matina continues “Some of the regular students are locals, they joined the class because the hours of the classes fit their schedule. They also tell me that they simply enjoy practicing Yoga in their own language, although the class is still 80% in English.”
Yoga BamBam is open 7 days a week. Students create their own online free account and sign themselves in on the website to reserve a class. All the profits go directly to the teachers. The prices of the classes are kept to a minimum as there are few over heads. The studio is very small yet I think that that is why it is part of it’s charm.
Yoga BamBam 28 Pound Lane Sheung Wan. There is not a telephone number. http://www.yogabambam.com
Cover of Soho Sports April 2015 featuring Chaukei Ngai – who also offers Private Yoga classes at Yoga BamBam.
1.Yoga BamBam – sliding doors
2. Melanie and Matina Cheung
3.Matina Cheung- Yoga BamBam Teacher and photographer
4. Melanie B – Yoga BamBam Owner