• Sophie Martin Wallace

Seven years in Hong Kong, from instability to the Yoga mat'

Updated: Aug 8, 2019

In a few months I will become a “Hong Kong permanent resident”. After living in Bristol, London, Barcelona and Paris, around this time seven years ago, I was leaving my flat on the top floor located on the old port of Marseille to settle down in Hong Kong.

Without knowing what to expect, I was swapping a Mediterranean seascape, olives and rosé wine, friends and a job in Cultural Event Production at the Marseille European Capital of Culture for a concrete-scape (literally facing a wall), noodles and hot water, a steady relationship and a position as a Cultural Affairs Manager at the Alliance Française de Hong Kong.

In between wonder, love and panic, I was taking my fears in the street of the megalopolis. It was hot and humid. I remember struggling eating “fish balls” with chopsticks, having panic attacks in the middle of a gigantic shopping malls and finding whom I soon called my new shrink, a Chinese doctor who couldn’t speak English.

Before this dramatic change, my life was rather in the excess. I was working a lot, moving out a lot, dancing a lot, walking a lot, traveling a lot, driving a lot, laughing a lot, drinking a lot, going out a lot. Whatever I was doing, I never had enough.

Although I kept on smiling, my heart was sad and my soul was craving to elevate without changes, parties, drugs or anxiolytics.

Under the guidance of the one I used to call my new shrink aka Doctor Wong, I started Yoga.

I remember my first class. My teacher was called Vicky. The studio was quiet and charming. The room was facing the racecourse in Happy Valley where I was living at the time.

As soon as I got onto the mat, I already felt better.

Vicky asked us to move to a table top position and to bring opposite arm and opposite leg up. The room was small and packed so I actually almost ended up with my Dutch neighbour big toe in my mouth. Vicky was insisting on bringing awareness to our natural breathing while focusing on the beauty of the energy around us.

From my point of view at the time, I was mainly discovering that a big toe could sweat! I didn’t find myself “hippie enough” to inhale properly as I was dreading to gasp half a litre of perspiration up my nose.

My mind was racing between judgement, fear and pain, as yes - yoga can also be painful!

The rest of the class went well and to my surprise, I felt truly lighter and relaxed. On my way out, I smiled at my Dutch neighbour. After all, we were the only foreigners in the room and I had just spent an hour looking at his butt arched up in the air and at his sweaty toe.

Amazed by my sudden well-being, I rushed to get a membership. On that day, I had no idea that I was embarking on a journey to saying goodbye to years to anxiety.

I am not going to lie, the transformation didn’t happen within an hour of staring at a stranger’s big toe. The secret is found by committing to a regular practice.

Eight months upon my arrival in Hong Kong, I was pregnant! Me with my passionate “Gypsy soul”; I was becoming a mother and a faithful wife. I was going to Ikea on Saturday afternoons and I was spending my Sundays with my family in law.

I was happy, but this sensation of such an easy “happiness” was taking me back straight to my anxiety.

At the same time, my mother got diagnosed with a serious and incurable disease. Before, I would have jumped at this opportunity, of overwhelming emotions between fears and joy, to drop everything and run away. But I was pregnant and happy, so this was not an option. I decided to swap my fears for hours of yoga and meditation. I learnt how to let go and how to live in the moment.

To conclude, seven years of yoga and meditation and two kids later, I can say that these years in Hong Kong have taken me on an inspiring and challenging journey leading to a deeper understanding of myself.

While previously, I was stuck in doubts and instability, I now have a precious pool of resources to activate my inner peace.

Through my experiences, this blog will document how I use yoga, meditation, self-love, non-judgement, forgiveness, letting go and spirituality in my journey.

I will share techniques and meditations for you to keep growing in your own practice too.

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With love,



© Sophie Martin Expression