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Lips & Praew Magazine

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Rhythmic rock star. Sydney
Behind Hong Kong’s Yoga Boom

Hype is a huge part of the sudden success of yoga in Hong Kong, which boasts the world’s biggest, most expensive facilities, top teachers and, of course, designer yoga gear. But the men behind the boom have carefully stoked the fires of this yoga passion, and they are just getting started. By Ron Gluckman/Hong Kong

THE TALK OF THE TOWN IS TOUGH to miss in Hong Kong.

Compact and charismatic, Master Kamal’s much-admired, perfectly-formed body graces scores of billboards blanketing the city. His million-dollar smile became a mainstay of magazines long before his recent television series and DVD cemented his complete mass-market appeal.

“He’s fabulous,” enthuses Wendy Lee, a longtime fan who can claim to be among the crowds weathering lengthy queues at some of Kamal’s defining performances. The wait, she says, was more than worth it. “Master Kamal is the greatest. He’s a superstar.”

Master Kamal represents a new mode of idol for a city that has long embraced syrupy pop crooners, kung fu kickers and reedy fashion models. Kamal’s performances feature plenty of on-stage prancing, and he uses a headset-mounted microphone to stir fans into delirious, sweat-soaked frenzy, yet he’s neither hip-hop sensation nor rock singer. Kamal qualifies as Hong Kong’s first New Age Wonder. He’s the top yogi in town.

Yoga has taken Hong Kong by storm, surging in a few short years from poorly-lit back-alley studios to lavish facilities atop penthouse suites and entire floors in five-star hotels.

“When we opened our first studio, everyone thought were crazy,” admits Colin Grant, CEO of Pure Yoga, Hong Kong’s premier yoga chain, claiming the largest, most lavish facilities.
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1st page
Translation for Kriyoga article in mypaper 22 Jan 2010 (Fri)

Heading: Focus on Breathing. Master creates Kriyoga

(Left column, 1st page)
With my gym gear, I arrive at True Yoga Raffles Place branch at 7pm. The reception counter was already lined up with people. After changing, I walk towards the studio and I am surprised to see the studio full of people. “What’s happening? Why are there so many people here today?” And I realized that they are here for Kriyoga with Master Kamal.

Master Kamal (45 years old) – Srinivas Suresh Kamal, has been learning HimalayaYoga from the age of 5. He also learnt various types of Yoga from his master Swami Veda Bharati.

While learning Yoga, Master Kamal also leant other various sports such as Gymnastics, Body building and Martial Arts, even getting 5 types of Black belts.

In 1993, he combined the Indian art of Yoga with various fitness sports and created Kriyoga – Kamal’s Rhythmic Yoga. This new form of Yoga helps to strengthen muscles, improves breathing and can be enjoyed by everyone.

In his 20 years of teaching, Master Kamal has gone around the globe from Asia to America, teaching his Yoga and is one of the 8 greatest Indian Yoga Masters.

(Bottom Left, 1st Page)
Heading – Opens the local Yoga scene

In the 90s, Master Kamal brought Yoga to Singapore. “I dare say that I am the first to promoteYoga in Singapore. I wanted to go to America to find opportunities, but a friend invited me over to Singapore and I started promoting Yoga here”.

At that time, many people do not know what Yoga is and there was no Yoga centre. Master Kamal started off by getting in touch with the Singapore Sports Council and invited various Sports instructors and heads to learn Yoga.

“They were only 5 minutes into the class and were already sweating profusely. But after the class, they felt that Yoga is really good.” Master Kamal smiles at the fond memory.

After that, yoga slowly became more popular in Singapore, with more and more students joining. In 1999, Master Kamal left Singapore for Hong Kong to set up his Yoga centre.

Comparing the Yoga scene now and 10 years ago, Master Kamal notices that more people are into Yoga and there is a market for Yoga. He doesn’t deny that Yoga is getting commercialized but he believes that no matter how the industry progresses, the art of Yoga will still remain pure.

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Heading – Yoga is a breathing science

Joanna Chen (25 years old) has been practicing Yoga and has tried different types of yoga such as Hot Yoga and Hatha Yoga, but it is her first time trying out Kriyoga and she finds it very special.

“Master Kamal emphasizes a lot on breathing and how one feels internally and not only on the postures. It’s a very big help to me because if you believe in the true essence of Yoga, breathing is a very important element.”

Kriyoga’s breathing techniques stem from Yoga’s pranayama, and helps to burn fat, improve the breathing passage and strengthens the heart.

At the very last part of the class, Master Kamal asked us to lie down and learn to breathe. It’s very simple, relax your whole body and take in a deep breath and quickly exhale, in the process your chest and abdomen take turns expanding and contracting. I (the reporter) initially felt dizzy but slowly got the hang of it.

Master Kamal said: “Yoga is a science of breathing. Breathing is essential to human survival but a lot of people are not breathing correctly. We have 2 nostrils but most of the time, only 1 nostril is more active and the other is passive. When one consistently relies on breathing through only 1 nostril, the imbalance will cause lethargy, anxiousness and might even lead to headaches and dizziness.

When faced with pressure, we start taking shallow breaths and that causes anxiety. So by learning to breathe equally through 2 nostrils, we maintain deep breaths, which will calm us down and revitalize us as well. Taking deep breaths improves oxygen circulation in the brain and helps us to relax.”
2nd page

(Upper Right, 2nd Page)
Heading – The many types off Kriyoga

Kriyoga is a combination of martial arts and Yoga and the postures help to strengthen the muscles and improve blood circulation, improve one’s endurance, balance and vitality. This form of yoga focuses on breathing and this helps one to relax and focus on oneself.

When asked on why he created Kriyoga, Master Kamal said: “I found that some of the Yoga are very movement based and may not be able to strengthen an individual. Some other forms of Yoga require a lot of jumping, which may not be suitable for those who are older. And some other Yogas focus a lot on meditation. I wanted to created a Yoga that everyone can learn and enjoy and yet help strengthen and tone.”

Although Kriyoga has elements of martial arts, it does not involve students kicking sand bags but merges certain martial arts techniques with Yoga, to help the students feel the “qi” or in Yoga terms, the Prana.

Master Kamal has alto created Kriyoga Sun, Kriyoga Warrior, Kriyoga Moon and Kriyoga Therapy classes.

“I didn’t want to term Kriyoga classes as Intermediate or Advanced as some people get frightened when they hear such terms and will not even try the class. So I created my classes with different names so that it makes the Yoga more interesting.”

So how should an individual choose the type of Kriyoga suitable for them? Master Kamal says: “If you want to have a whole body workout, you can choose Kriyoga; if you want to get rid of lethargy and balance your life, choose Kriyoga Therapy; if you want to tone and strengthen your body, you can choose Kriyoga Warrior; if you want to relax and and balance your mind and body, you can choose Kriyoga Sun or Kriyoga Moon.”
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