Hometown: Montréal, QC
Languages: English, French, Chinese
Occupation: Yoga & Meditation Teacher
Ayla was born and raised in Hong Kong. Her mother is of Canadian heritage and her father is a Chinese-born Canadian. At a young age, Ayla was fortunate enough to travell to over 24 countries growing up, befriending people from all sorts of backgrounds, ethnicities, and socio-economic circumstances. She feels this helped her construct a balanced perspective on the world. She spent the first half of her life living in the international city of Hong Kong and then moved to Montreal to study at McGill University. However, being raised by two opposing cultures, made Ayla become fascinated with the contrasts between the East and the West. She entered McGill University to study these through the lens of medicine: pursuing anatomy and cell biology, but spending her spare time studying Traditional Chinese Medicine and holistic practices such as meditation. She wanted to find ways to harmonize these two cultures in every aspect of her life: work ethic, wellbeing, research, and perspective.
Nonetheless, the courses at university were just a small portion of what Ayla was to learn during her time at school. After years of stress and a lack of knowledge and tools on how to manage, Ayla went through a succession of life-changing events. After a near-death experience, Ayla was sparked back to life with an outlook she remembered she had as a child. She remembered the importance of presence and connectedness: how we truly are all connected and how this moment is the only one we have. She remembered how to not get too caught up in the mind and how that is often our greatest source of stress, anxiety, and depression. She learned new lessons on forgiveness and compassion and believes these are powerful keys more people in the world need to remember in order to heal ourselves. Most of all, she claims she learned invaluable lessons on how the mind, body, and life work. After all this, Ayla completed her final year at university: graduating with First Class Honours in Psychology and Neuroscience, a minor in Interdisciplinary Life Sciences and a minor in Musical Science and Technology. She contributed to research in both the neuroscience of music and the neuroscience of attention, and even built a program that turns brain waves into music.
After graduating, Ayla sought to teach what she felt were her most important lessons she had learned around the world. She travelled from Mexico, to India, to Singapore, to Shanghai, and back to Hong Kong to help people find the peace and well-being she saw was needed. She chose to teach in big cities because she knew that chronic stress was deteriorating people’s well-being there: physical, mental, social, and spiritual. In Hong Kong, Ayla began working for Asia’s leading wellness company: The Pure Group. Over a short amount of time, Ayla became the global ambassador for Pure Yoga Hong Kong and has since taught tens of thousands of students practices such as meditation, breathing, and yoga, and served as a model for plant-based food companies, athleisure, and wellness brands.
Now, Ayla wishes to continue to share and expand using her voice. She is following her passion and talent in music to share her renewed joy with the world. As well, she is writing a book on the experiences she went through, weaving her personal insights with science. Finally, she has started two companies: one, for connecting people deeper to music and one, a wellness company.
Ayla believes in dreaming big and inspiring people to fulfill their potential. She sees how honest, balanced individuals tend to make better decisions in the world and how this can have a great positive ripple effect. She wishes to embody the capacity for opposites to harmonize: science and music, uniqueness and collectivity, inner and outer beauty, a yogi in a pageant, and the East and West. Ayla believes that Miss Universe Canada can help serve as a platform for her to continue to share her unique perspective on global issues, to expand her capacity to serve in the world, and to use her intellect to live with her heart.
What are your interests and what do you enjoy doing the most?
I love making music, I love learning, I love sharing yoga, meditation, and I love meeting new people
List any special training you have had (music, art, drama, dance, etc.)
I studied neuroscience and music technology and I have special training in different forms of yoga and meditation. I have also studied Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda (ancient Indian medicinal system) in India. Prior to this I learned drums for 7 years. I did tap and modern dance for 7 years and ballet for 3. I also played field hockey nationally for Hong Kong.
In what sports, if any, have you participated?
I played field hockey nationally for Hong Kong. I also played Netball, Tennis, and competed in running. (Prior to that I did gymnastics and dance).
Name one person, other than your parents, who has had the most influence on your life. Why?
I have many inspirations I look to guide the different areas of my life. Perhaps one person who has had a great influence is my brother. By reflecting upon him I get to see a completely different view of the world that is not mine. How people treat him, how he sees the world, how he feels about himself, and how he has been shaped by his experiences truly gives me perspective on myself, on others, and on the world. My brother is just one year older than me but did not have such positive experiences at school, has been “diagnosed” with ADHD, and has experienced and seen many things I don’t think I will. Aside from this, he spends most of his time online and has many friends who he has met through the internet. Although I may never experience any of these things first hand, I learn so, so much through him and he continues to provide me with grounding honesty and a more balanced outlook on life.
What is your proudest personal accomplishment (other than participating in this pageant)? I think my proudest personal accomplishment was graduating with First Class Honours in my Bachelor Science from University. Although I have other accomplishments I am grateful for, this one stands out for me because the journey taught me so many lessons on persistence, never giving up, learning about myself, stress management, and on how to be my most effective. 🙂
What is the most interesting or unique thing that has ever happened to you and/or what is the most interesting thing about you?
I think the most interesting thing that I’ve experienced recently is that I saw the Dalai Lama in India a few years ago…just by chance! I was in Dharamsala, the location of his home in exile in the Himalayas, and heard through the locals that he was coming to town to give a talk. I was fortunate enough to be able to register and see him in time. It was quite magical!
What is your career ambition and what are you doing or plan to do to accomplish that goal?
My personal ambition is to fulfill my potential and express myself honestly. My current career ambition is to expand in a well-rounded manner: teaching yoga and meditation, writing a book, and creating music. I hope to share, create, and show up in the world in a way that honestly expresses me and that resonates with other people. In regards to music, I am practicing everyday singing and producing, collaborating with local producers, and just started a collective music blog. The music I write is a way to share my perspective and to genuinely share something that makes me happy. As a life mission, I serve to expand people’s minds of what we believe is possible for us to do and be in the world. Finally, I live consciously: with every action I take, I wish to act from a place of compassion and service, knowing that I am one of a collective whole…and I wish for others to do the same.
What would be your “dream job” in life?
My dream job is to be paid to be me. I feel I am certainly a “visionary” so I would be surrounded by people who are capable of turning enlightening visions into reality. My dream job is a combination of being a creative, scientist, and entrepreneur, all of which efforts inspire, unite, expand people’s minds, and generate insights and creations to serve humanity and our future. I am centered and I get to learn, expand, and share. I get to see and be seen, listen and be heard.
Describe where you were raised and what your childhood was like.
I was born in Hong Kong and I was raised by my mother and father. I had a pretty great childhood but I learned a lot from the stresses at home. When we were younger we would travel a lot as a family, play, paint, and enjoy good times. These are sprinkled with memories of familial conflict… I have decided to see the silver lining here: because of some disharmony at home, I made a lot of friends at school and built a rich social life. I found so much joy in socializing with people of all backgrounds in Hong Kong and I ended up spending most of my spare time in after-school activities or exploring with friends. I also put a lot of my focus into school and I felt like I had to do well because I couldn’t ask for help from my parents for help (like they didn’t have the time). Overall, this taught me how to be self-sufficient, something I am grateful for. Additionally, living in this environment taught me the importance of stress management and healthy living. It helped me learn at an early age that one’s physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing are all connected and ultimately influence one’s relationships and capacity to love and connect. I believe it also taught me how to meditate at an early age as I had to learn to regulate my mind and emotions for my own well-being. I also learned so much about social dynamics by observing my family interact.
Over the years, as I have come into my own and my family has put more energy and time into healing these relationships…and this has been very satisfying and rewarding. Aside from this, I went to school in Hong Kong and spent every summer in Canada (Calgary and Vancouver mainly). I loved travelling back and forth between these two sides of the world because I felt like it was giving me a more well-rounded view of things. I quickly learned how to be grateful for the opportunities I have and to not live in a perceptual bubble of my life.
List any interesting or unusual jobs you may have had.
I think my most interesting job was teaching for Pure Yoga Hong Kong. It was an incredible opportunity to share a practice that had helped me heal and to be able to feel like I am helping people’s lives by teaching them tools and techniques to reduce their stress to feel better and be more effective. I got to teach classes from 5 to 150 people and taught in studios, parks, on a ferris wheel, and more. In this position, I was fortunate enough to learn from some of the best teachers around the world and be subsidized to attend notorious yoga conferences. It was a meaningful job where I could truly leave work feeling better than I came in.
Perhaps my most unusual job was working as an intern in a hospital in Jodhpur, Rajasthan. In this work we got to shadow doctors of all different areas: orthopedic, general, and my favourite: surgery. We learned about the culture of India and the general medical system there, the most common diseases, and at the time, the astigmatism towards mental health. As well, I got to see a bunch of surgeries… from hysterectomies (uterus removal) and reconstructive plastic surgery, to orthopedic surgeries where the doctor used a chainsaw! I’ll never forget that!
List any volunteering you have done.
Last year (2019) I was a volunteer for RISE Hong Kong technology festival which was an amazing hub for many innovations and innovators in technology from around the world to gather, network, and create. That year I was also a volunteer for the “New Earth Festival” and the Bali Spirit Festival, both in Ubud, Bali. These were both very, (very!) inspiring and eye-opening experiences which gave me hope for the potential of people to love and connect with one another. Aside from this, I have volunteered for music festivals, food shelters, school clubs in Canada, wellness festivals in Hong Kong, dog walking orphan dogs in Hong Kong, and community teaching yoga wherever I can.
What is your most unusual talent?
Mmm…Perhaps my most unusual talent is that I’m very flexible. I can backbend very well, though I refrain from practicing this too much! haha.
Where is the most interesting place you have been to?
Probably the most interesting place I have been is…Luxembourg! It was a random stop my friend and I decided to visit during a trip through Europe and we had no idea what to expect. Only once we arrived did we realize that it was a very “proper” country that had people dressed very nicely in suits and dresses… we saw many older people wandering the streets, very expensive shops and restaurants, and didn’t take us long for us to feel like we definitely didn’t fit in! Haha. As small as it was, it was so charming: the city design, the streets, and storefronts were so unique and romantic. I would love to visit again now that I’m (slightly) more grown. 🙂
What do you hope to be doing in ten years?
I hope to be contributing to the world through my voice, creations, and perspective. I hope to be a human that people can listen to and find hope and remembering and that people can reflect upon, and I, them. I hope I am continuing to come into my own, learning, growing, fulfilling my potential and inspiring others to do the same. I hope my creations have served to bring joy and wellbeing to others and I hope to be a mind contributing to some of the world’s most imminent issues and being of great use. I hope to inspire others through compassion, seeing things deeply, and applying intelligence (mind and heart) to all areas of life.