Health and wellness

The biggest yoga stars in Hong Kong in June: David Swenson, Ana Forrest, Daphne Tse to attend Asia Yoga Conference

Asia Yoga Conference next month may be the last in Hong Kong, with organisers looking to cash in on rapidly growing Chinese interest and find a bigger venue by moving the event to China

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 26 May, 2018, 6:46pm
UPDATED : Monday, 28 May, 2018, 11:09am

The Asia Yoga Conference (AYC), which returns on June 7 for four days at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, is looking to relocate to China as demand for “good and better yoga” continues to grow in the country. The move would also help popularise the annual “Evolution” event, the biggest of its kind in the region, with a stronger focus on outdoor community activities, the organiser says.

According to the AYC conference manager Alda Lo, there has been a spike in participants from China, from 16 per cent in 2015 to 40 per cent in 2017. The number of classes and workshops with Mandarin interpretation also increased by 30 per cent last year.

How yoga, trail running and a vegan diet changed Hongkonger’s life – and cured her underactive thyroid

“There is a growing market for good yoga in China … we are the only [event in the region] to bring in all the international names,” she says.

The line-up for AYC’s 10th anniversary last year included the Who’s Who of Western yoga: David Life and Sharon Gannon (Jivamukti Yoga), David Swenson (Ashtanga Yoga), Jason Crandell (Hatha Vinyasa Yoga), and Sri Dharma Mittra (Dharma Yoga).

Swenson is set to return this year, along with Ana Forrest (Forrest Yoga) and Rodney Yee (Yee Yoga), who are also internationally recognised for their own yoga brands.

Other than to tap into the growing Chinese market, AYC is considering moving out of Hong Kong because of space issues.

Lo says the current venue is more suited for trade shows and business conferences, and there are many restrictions that limit the event’s potential.

She says AYC is in need of a model shift, from being an event for yoga practitioners with a strong focus on education (currently 15 per cent of attendees are yoga instructors) to something that feels more like a festival that embraces the wider community.

“If we move, we could move outdoors and have bigger public practises and a big market place,” she says, adding that AYC is currently negotiating with potential partners (who have contacts with local government) in Shanghai and Beijing, though nothing is confirmed at this stage.

Now in its 11th edition, AYC attendance has grown from around 1,600 in 2007 to about 3,000 last year.

A total of 52 experts – from Ashtanga yoga and meditation to face reading and mystic healing – are scheduled to fly in from around the world next month to host more than 180 workshops and free community events.

The yoga industry continues to grow globally. In the US alone, revenue generated by the industry amounted to US$9.09 billion in 2015, and is projected to reach US$11.6 billion by 2020, according to Statista.

The power of ‘Doga’: How doing yoga with your dog ‘can help it overcome bad behaviour’

Highlights of this year’s AYC include workshops from these three yoga practitioners:

A post shared by Forrest Yoga (@forrestyoga) on Apr 22, 2018 at 9:27am PDT

Ana Forrest

Forrest Yoga focuses on the connection with the breath and core. It is a style developed by Ana Forrest as she worked through her own healing. In an interview with the Yoga Journal in 2007, she said: “I used to be in constant pain. I had frequent migraines, was epileptic, sexually and physically abused, and suicidal. I struggled with bulimia, drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. Yoga saved my life and made me resourceful enough to look elsewhere.” Many find her life story, as well as yoga style, both inspirational and motivational.

Daphne Tse

One of the most beautiful vocalists on the international yoga scene, singer-songwriter Daphne Tse has touched many with her soulful music. She performs kirtan – chanting or recitation – at yoga festivals around the world, and will be holding classes to use music and singing as a form of healing. Tse’s music has been featured on yoga music compilations with Shiva Rea and Samahita Live, and she has released two solo albums, “Mata” and “Finding Water”.

David Swenson

David Swenson is one of the few yogis who have learned the entire Ashtanga yoga system, including all asana sequences and pranayama (yogic breathing) as it was originally taught by guru K. Pattabhi Jois.

But what makes his teachings inspiring is not only his knowledge but his flexible approach to an otherwise strict and rigid system (Ashtanga yoga has a set sequence known as the primary series). Swenson’s sense of humour means his classes are always a fun and entertaining experience.

See for programme information and to register for classes and workshops. Many free events are open to all and require no registration.