Singer, Songwriter and Yoga Instructor
Multi-talented, creative and unapologetically vivacious, Atilia lights up the room with her genuine warmth and joy. She professes to love singing, song-writing and yoga equally. However, she admits to having a soft spot for song-writing as it allows her to express herself fully, especially when she’s feeling blue. “I feel that I can express myself better in writing, and I get super happy when I’m able to complete the melody and lyrics – it gives me this amazing feeling, like I’ve poured my heart out, and I can snap out of the funk I’m in and become a better person,” shares Atilia.
Atilia appreciates all genres of music, but is particularly fond of jazzy and blue-sy songs. Her favourite? “Duyung. I wrote that for my first album, and it took me only ten minutes (to write it) because I was so emotional at the time. I was on Perhentian Island when I wrote it, and I meant every word in that song,” she reflected. “I just released my third album in August last year, so right now, I’m busy promoting my music and doing showcases of it in jazz clubs around town. I’m also in the midst of writing a duet for my mom and myself, so I’m really looking forward to that,” she added. Her mother, Salamiah Hassan is a seasoned singer who started her career at 18 years of age (she is now still going strong at 67) and played an integral part in shaping her love for music. “I still see the same spark in her eyes every time she performs on stage, and I love seeing that”, she said.
When it comes to yoga and fitness, Atilia states that she gets her inspiration from her fellow Under Armour ambassadors – Yasmin Hani, Linora Low, Nana Al Haleq, Suhaili Micheline, Robyn Lau, and her good friend Lynn D. “We chat about fitness on a daily basis, and we’re always pushing each other to be better and stronger, all over lots of ice cream and cakes of course!”, she said with a laugh. Atilia tries to do her yoga exercises consistently every day. But since she teaches as well, it can be a challenge to squeeze in time for her own practice. “That needs tons of discipline and I do slack off occasionally, but the key is to not beat myself up about it” she shrugged. Her most difficult pose to master? “The handstand – because I’m afraid of falling and breaking something (laughs)”.
Having sufficient nutrition is essential in building the strength and endurance required for yoga. “I eat eight times a day. I may be small and petite, but I have a lot of energy and I need to eat small portions many times throughout the day. I usually eat rice and a lot of protein (chicken),” she said. Atilia has dealt with a wrist injury in the past, which hindered her progress in the beginning. “The first three years, I’d have my palms on the floor every time. I never used my fingers to grip the mat, so I was basically channelling all my weight onto the bottom of my palms, and my wrist suffered greatly for it. I found this teacher in Thailand and he taught me how to apply proper form by using my fingers like a suction cup to pull back, like a steering wheel. That has made all the difference.” Her advice for women who are new to yoga is to focus on your breathing. “It’s the most important thing. That, and to really listen to your body. We are all made differently, and even our breath lengths are different, so be patient and don’t pursue crazy inversions if you’re not ready. And it’s totally okay to not be ready.” She added that it’s also important to focus on your intention of going to the class. She herself usually sets an intention and dedicates her energy towards it before starting her practice. “I always dedicate my practice to someone I love, or someone who needs extra energy or love. I now dedicate my practice to a very good friend who is going through the cancer fight,” she shared. Atilia’s ability to always stay positive shines through in her personality, and she believes that by responsibly and consciously replacing negative thoughts with positive ones, the world will start responding to you in a positive way.