Born to Eurasian parents and originally from Singapore, Jojo Struys is a multi-talented lass who effortlessly radiates charm, optimism and confidence. Throughout her professional career, she’s worn countless hats; the model, columnist, trainer, Reiki Master, TV personality, producer, author and enviable globetrotter is also a yoga practitioner and wellness enthusiast who was recently appointed as Westin’s well-being brand advocate across the Asia Pacific region.
As a part of Westin’s well-being movement aimed at enhancing the wellness of global guests, Jojo, who recently checked out from an ashram in the Himalayan foothills of Rishikesh in India, is hosting the Westin Wellness Escape programme in this region, which is a series of well-being retreats running concurrently at all Westin Hotels & Resorts worldwide offering empowering experiences to guests that are centred on wellness.
Fortunately, we got to be a part of the first Southeast Asian Westin Wellness Escape which took place at Westin Kuala Lumpur on April 9th and 10th with Jojo. During the two-day retreat, we were guided through wellness-centric workshops that combat stress by learning breathing techniques and yoga poses for inner calm, invigorating the body and mind.
In an interview with Lipstiq, Jojo dishes on her latest appointment as Westin’s well-being brand advocate, how her journey to ultimate wellness has changed her life, her most memorable travels, and some tips that help her look and feel her best. Read on and be inspired!
Q: What does being a Westin Wellness Advocate entail?
A: I’m doing workshops like this on ground, and also when I travel, I’m creating content. It’s not necessarily about Westin’s amenities or the building; it’s more of a lifestyle of well-being when I’m travelling. I post content from a traveller’s perspective and I’d write travel pieces that are centred in the location of where there is a Westin, but it’s not about the Westin. It’s the sights, the sounds and the smells of the place, it’s how I see the place through my eyes as a traveller.
Westin is really big on well-being and I’m so happy to be a part of the Westin group because this collaboration was so synergistic and seamless. Westin’s even got a running concierge which gives you a map of the city of places you can run, and you can even rent New Balance shoes to work out. It’s great to be a part of such a progressive hotel chain that understands that you can work hard, but you can also play hard.
I’m based in Kuala Lumpur, and I’m really excited about having more workshops targeting different pockets of people. No matter what you do, everyone has got some form of stress, so it’s exciting that way.
Q: What about your plans for the rest of the region?
A: When I travel to various locations, I’ll be able to have different experiences. Once I check into a Westin, I’ll be able to explore the things and attractions around it, then write about it. I’d do what I’d normally do as a traveller. I’m supposed to do two retreats this year, one with Westin KL and another with Westin Langkawi. There are definitely other plans in the works, and my content is also available on Westin’s official website. A few of my guided relaxation tracks can also be found there.
Q: How did you start?
A: It probably began in university when I was taking a business degree, with an elective in psychology. I’ve always been so fascinated with the capability of the mind and when I was in university, I started doing guided relaxation for some friends who couldn’t sleep. I knew that it worked because one person who had insomnia for six years just knocked out. I can only point you in the right direction and your mind will take you there. I also read many books which help to expand the mind.
Q: How has this journey helped you as a person and how it has changed you?
A: One of the most significant differences when you tap into going inward is that we can’t change anything about ourselves if we’re not aware of where the problem comes from. So often, we just sweep things under the carpet and it is actually self-awareness that is the first step to change. When the mind goes quiet, original wisdom speaks and things become very clear. I would say that meditation doesn’t take you away from the world, it actually helps you function a lot more calmly and effectively. It’s helped me feel a sense of resilience. It’s given me inner strength and that gives me confidence.
For instance, when I was in Rishikesh in India, I managed to get into the Ganges river, which is the holiest river in India, during the coldest month of the year. It was an auspicious day and people believed that getting in will cleanse you from past karma, impurities and sins. I applied some breathing techniques and was able to do 108 dips whereby I completely dunked my head into the water. It’s mental training and I’m so happy I did it. It also proved that I could keep myself warm if I was in an extreme condition because all these things are possible with breathe techniques.
Q: How can meditation and breathing techniques help someone who has an extreme fear of flying?
A: I think alternate nostril breathing can help. You may want to listen to music and imagine that you’re in a completely different location. This will help you relax and you’ll no longer focus on the fact that you’re on a plane. Wherever you place the attention of your mind, everything amplifies. If you’re thinking about fear, the fear will grow.
Every single one of us, one day, is going to die. If you let go of the worst thing that could happen, maybe it’ll be alright for you to sit on that plane. If that day is the day your time is up, so be it. You are assuming the worst when you don’t have to. If the mind is so afraid, then allow it to go there. What happens if the plane goes down? It’s beyond your control. It’s also about letting go of the stuff you cannot control. When you do, it’s like come what may.
Q: What are some of your favourite travel destinations?
A: It’s such a tough one! Japan for the onsens. The hot springs are just amazing and so therapeutic, especially in the snow. This contrast of watching snowflakes fall when you’re sitting in this warm cocoon of heat is so addictive. I love the rustic charm of Nepal. It’s an interesting place with a very low level of obesity because people walk so much and it’s a beautiful place to explore. I love the spiritual feel of Bali, and that’s why I chose to get married there. I love Australia for it’s amazing sunsets, fresh air and blue skies.
Q: What does your morning routine look like?
A: When I wake up, I always start my day with meditation and I do physical postures, yoga as well. It depends on how I feel though. Some days I just meditate, and sometimes I do just yoga. More often than not, I try not to wake up without meditation. I do a mixture of breathing techniques, sometimes I’m doing a relaxing breathe technique and sometimes I might need more energy so I’d do an energising type of breathe. I mix yoga with pranayama.
I love smoothies, so I have a lot of power smoothies for breakfast. Sometimes a bit of eggs, but I enjoy making smoothies, so I put in nuts, mulberries, chia seeds and more. I usually use bananas as a base but I also work with strawberries and blueberries. It’s delicious, you can do whatever you like with it.
Q: What would you say is the perfect pick me up that’s good for you?
A: I drink a fair bit of water and I think it’s easy to forget that throughout the day. If you drink other drinks, you are probably not getting enough water in the day. Don’t forget to stay hydrated because when you’re not drinking enough water, it can give you headaches and when people are dehydrated, it gives them fatigue. You can feel it, especially after a meal when you’ll have this slump in energy. Sometimes, we feel hungry and we might snack, but actually, we are thirsty. We can confuse thirst with hunger.
You can follow Jojo Struys on Facebook or Instagram to stay updated on her latest travels and adventures. Stay tuned for our writeup about our experience at the first Westin Wellness Escape, hosted at The Westin KL by Jojo herself!