Meet Joy Chen; founder of Cosmic Fit Club and the instructor for our Tuesday night yoga classes. We were able to ask Joy some questions about her practice. If you don’t already know how awesome Joy is from taking her classes, or even if you do, keep reading to get to know Joy a little better! You can join Joy for a free yoga class in the park Tuesdays at 7:00pm.
First off, quick background info! Tell us your name, where you’re from, and what you do.
My name is Joy Chen. I was born in Manhattan's Chinatown on the Lower East Side but I now live in Queens. I opened a movement studio and special events space in Long Island City two years ago called Cosmic Fit Club.
How’d you get into yoga? How long have you been a yoga instructor?
I first got exposed to yoga during college when I tried a few tai chi and yoga classes as a way to deal with stress. After college I pursued yoga more seriously because I really loved the feeling of flexibility and strength it gave me. I joined YogaWorks in Soho and completed my 500 hour teacher training there approximately 7 years ago. I have been teaching yoga ever since!
What’s your favorite thing about what you do?
My favorite thing about teaching yoga is getting the opportunity to serve students who have different needs and intentions and making a difference in their lives. Through teaching them how to flow and hold particular yoga poses students can nourish their own physical and internal well-being. It's a beautiful thing. My students always inspire me and challenge me. I like to see them getting stronger. Sometimes I like to joke around and say that my favorite thing about yoga is getting to wear colorful and comfortable yoga clothes all the time.
How is teaching in the park different than teaching in a yoga studio?
Teaching in the park is definitely more challenging because there are a lot of external noise and environmental conditions that are outside my control and that can be much better managed inside a quiet studio environment. For instance I've had to fight to be heard above the sound of dogs barking or helicopters flying overhead. In addition, there are usually much larger crowds in the park compared to the studio. I can have upwards of 70 people taking class together in the park! But it's also really lovely to practice yoga outdoors in the grass and the fresh air and watch the sun go down. Best of all the park offers free yoga which makes it that much more accessible to many more people who might otherwise not be able to afford it or might be intimidated or shy about going to a studio if they have never tried yoga before.
When you’re not teaching, what is your favorite thing to do in the parks?
When I'm not teaching my favorite thing to do in the parks is handstands on the moon island or running along the waterfront paths and trails in Hunter’s Point South Park or acroyoga and acrobatics in the oval with members of Cosmic Fit Club and the local community.
Lastly, how do you motivate/energize yourself to be active when you’re feeling lazy?
When I'm feeling lazy I motivate myself by stretching my arms up or lifting my chest into a simple seated back bend or arch. These two easy poses can do a lot in terms of revitalizing me. I also like to drink green tea or eat some fruit. Watermelon and cherries are my favorite in the summer. A quick stretch and a light snack always does my body good and then I just start walking in the direction of the gym or park or wherever the next activity leads me.