GRACE LEE (BANKER-TURNED-YOGI)

BANKER-TURNED-YOGI

Watching her parents age got Grace Lee thinking about her own health, mortality and priorities in life. Read how a committed banker gave up fame and fortune after 30 years to become a humble yoga teacher.

By Grace Lee

“50 is the new 25 for me, and I want to invite others to follow your dream regardless of your age.”

I started working in the financial industry almost 30 years ago. I thought I would never stop. I could literally see my own obituary describing me as a committed banker who devoted her entire life climbing the corporate ladder till her last breath. But my destiny lay elsewhere. Three years ago, I quit my job at a renowned Swiss bank where I had worked for 12 years and walked into my new life to serve others through yoga. My family and colleagues questioned this drastic move, where I gave up fame and fortune, and they still think I may come back to the “real world” soon. What they don’t realise is that I have found my real world now.

The trigger point that prompted me to make this change was my family. My brother and I moved our parents from Toronto to Asia in 2012. They were already in their 80’s. My mom suffered from dementia for 10 years. My dad had a stroke in early 2013 and his state of mind started deteriorating drastically. It became apparent that my family needed me. Watching my parents age also got me thinking about my own health and mortality. I quit the bank the same year.

Yoga keeps me grounded. I can spend hours on the mat without getting tired. It always helps me stay relaxed and focused after a meditative practice. More importantly, I remain positive always and really understand my body and stay connected with myself. The more I practice, the more I believe yoga can keep one physically strong, mentally healthy and emotionally balanced. As I get older, I can see the changes in my body and the importance of staying healthy and fit. Yoga has played a big part in keeping me strong and beautiful. I dare to walk the dream that 50 is the new 25 and I want to invite others to share it with me.

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The experience of looking after my elderly parents taught me humility, patience and compassion. I developed an urge to serve the community. That is the drive behind why I chose to teach yoga at community centers in Singapore. I wanted to reiterate the notion that yoga is for everyone. Teaching at the centers makes it more accessible for me to reach out to the public, especially senior citizens (50 and above) and housewives who are usually too busy taking care of their families than themselves. My classes focus on mindful practice while building strength and flexibility. Nothing makes me happier than seeing and hearing from my students about how my yoga classes help them in their daily lives.

While starting a new career after 50 may seem quite daunting, it is totally achievable. A lot of times we are scared of making the jump. As we reach the big 5-0, certain physiological changes in our bodies can be quite depressing and can bring about insecurity about ourselves and our future. But if you don’t lose passion, nothing seems depressing. You have to do your share and put in your effort in everything, and when you have passion, you start believing in yourself and it becomes easier to answer to your calling, regardless of your age. I can’t tell you how happy I am having made my passion my career and my career my passion.

Grace Lee received her yoga teacher certification from Dr.Venky’s Shivshakti Yoga Institue (International) India/Singapore in 2010.  She teaches yoga and pilates in Singapore, and is also a freelance writer for Yoga Journal Singapore. 

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