Lena demonstrating a yoga pose known as The Plow.

Where do you go for free yoga classes? Right here, at the Dean’s Office, where Ms Lena Yoong conducts free, twice-weekly introductory classes for staff.

Secretary to one of the Vice-Deans by day, wife and mother at home, Lena has been practising yoga since 2001.

“Yoga keeps me happy and healthy. It calms my mind and I feel more relaxed. I used to experience stress while juggling care for three kids, and was suffering from insomnia, migraines and terrible backaches. I felt much better after practising it. Yoga is more than just the postures, it is a way of life, and I hope to inspire others to try it,” said Lena, who earned a teaching certificate in the discipline recently and started her first class near her home at Nee Soon Community East Centre. She was apprehensive at the beginning, but that gave way to growing confidence as she gradually trained and mastered each move.

Her interest grew into a passion for teaching. When the classes were discontinued, she sought the guidance of another yoga master. Within a few years, she was leading her own class of 30 people together with three of her friends.

In her classes, Lena never fails to go back to the basics of posture and breathing. She makes it a point to ensure that her students do their postures correctly without going against their body limits.

Dr Khor Ing Wei from the Department of Medicine has been attending Lena’s classes since they began. “My shoulders tend to be stiff from long hours of sitting at work. The yoga sessions led by Lena were really helpful in loosening the tightness in my body. I feel refreshed, calm and positive after the sessions, which gives me more energy for the rest of the day.”

And that comes from correct breathing, says Lena. “We live in a very rushed and hurried life, and we need to be conscious of our steps and breathing. In yoga, having an erratic breathing means a troubled mind. Our goal is to find the point in our mind-body balance where we can breathe with ease and in sync with the flow of our body’s movement in yoga postures through a deep inhalation and exhalation process,” shared Lena. “Listening to your body is important. It prevents your muscles being overstretched and prevents injuries. Another important aspect is focus and discipline, and our goal is to find the right alignment and posture.”

Outside of work and yoga, Lena relishes time with her family, from daily meals to annual holiday trips. She once ascended Mount Rinjani in Lombok, Indonesia, with the encouragement of her husband, Jerry, and her three children — Leona, 28, Janel, 26, and Jeremy, 22. Leona is a full-time teacher at a special needs school and a part-time swimming instructor; Janel recently moved to Timor-Leste to pursue a career in Marketing Communications and Jeremy is studying part-time at the Singapore University of Social Sciences (formerly known as UniSIM), and working full-time as a communication executive at the Singapore Turf Club. The arrival of her first grandson in March 2017 sparked a new interest — post-natal yoga, which she hopes to teach to her daughter.

Why pay for yoga classes costing as much as $60 each, when you could sign up for reasonably priced personalised sessions with Lena, who retires from the School at the end of May after five years of service? Yoga, anyone?

If you or someone you know would like to find out more about Lena's yoga classes, please go to liveyogabreatheyoga.wordpress.com.