Back to Om: Journey Through Southern Thailand’s Yoga ShalasSaturday, May 25, 2013
My love affair with yoga started over a decade ago. Constantly seeing it on the pages of Cosmo magazine sparked my curiosity. Back then, there weren’t any yoga studios in Alabang where I grew up, so I searched for a yoga CD and started my practice at home with my kuya who on that day just happened to be bored. He passed out halfway through, while I struggled to the end. It was exhilarating! Little did I know that afternoon session was just the first tiny step in my life long journey with yoga.
Now, yoga is my strength. It has taught me patience and empathy. Through our parents' separation, falling out with my childhood friends and break ups with boyfriends, it has been my friend all through out. It guided me every single day without judgment. It has taught me confidence in my own skin, in my own body, constantly reminding me not to compare mine with others as we are all perfect the way God intended us to be. It has taught me how to be comfortable alone, whether in a cramped yoga studio or traveling to a whole new different country.
Very slowly I’m beginning to get to know the meaning of this sacred ancient practice. I seek to understand the different kinds and always look forward to discovering new variations as well. Thailand is probably the best place to discover yoga in Southeast Asia. So feeling lost and overwhelmed after an intensive yoga teacher training, I flew to the south of Thailand and relished each step of my journey back to om.
Island Yoga’s home is the virgin island of Koh Yao Noi, a tiny piece of paradise on the calm waters between Phuket and Krabi. From the pier, pick-up taxis drive through a rural setting before reaching the tranquil bay. The gigantic limestone formations create a stunning view from any angle. Island Yoga hosts a variety of yoga holidays and retreats for curious beginners to the more dedicated practitioners.
This boutique cliff side yoga resort is a lovely place to practice, hang out with like-minded yogis, indulge in healthy food and just chill-out. As I look out from my Panoramic room, I see the vast turquoise ocean below. The infamous Chaweng beach, known for its never ending parties is miles across me. I could stare at this view all day! Fast jet skis are circling the bay. Sailboats breeze through the warm salty air and kayaks slowly inch their way to nowhere. Vikasa has the best view in Koh Samui!
~Konstantin, the founder of Vikasa
There are yoga classes for beginners and more advanced practitioners in the afternoons as well. The class of Yuko, a Japanese yoga instructor really gave us a good challenge. As she entered the class, I somehow felt at ease because we were about the same height and body type, petite but far from frail. She started the class in a cross-legged seated pose. With closed eyes, she started to explain each chakra in our bodies and the color that it radiates, from the root all the way to the head chakra and I felt the energy slowly moving up my body.
As full moon was approached, Koh Phangan was calling me to visit. The island is notorious for its hedonistic, endless full moon parties. So it made perfect sense to find a wellness, detox and yoga resort in the area. Ananda offers a variety of life-enhancement and rejuvenating customized programs for the body, mind and spirit. They believe that if you take daily baths and clean your house, why not do the same with the inside of your body? Cleansing and purifying is necessary for physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual wellbeing.
While lounging at their restaurant that served healthy vegetarian meals, I overheard hippies at the next table talking about Tantra yoga. Apparently they were taking a course next door at Agama Yoga on the ancient form of enlightenment. I got so curious that I had to chat with them.
Surprisingly there were over a hundred students from all over the world. According to one, they have rituals and exercises with different partners everyday, from staring into each other’s eyes to more intimate ones. Tantra 2 teaches non-possessiveness so students are discouraged to bring their spouses and really encouraged to open up to new friends. Seeing the poster blew my mind!
How to make this trip happen:
-Manila to Bangkok roundtrip airfare 250 USD with Cebu Pacific Air
-Bangkok to Koh Samui one way airfare 150 USD with Bangkok Air
-Koh Samui to Koh Phangan one way ferry 300 THB with Lomprayah
-If you have more time to spend and would like to save on transportation costs, take a Lomprayah fast boat from Bangkok to any of the islands.
-A free 30 day visa is granted to ASEAN nationals. More info on tourismthailand.org.
Special thanks to the following yogis for making this feature possible:
Colleen of Island Yoga thailandyogaretreats.com
Betti &Vadim of Vikasa Yoga evolutionofyoga.com
Villy of Ananda Wellness & Detox Resort evolutionofyoga.com
Have you tried yoga before? Which yoga shala are you interested to try? Share your thoughts by commenting below.
Sole Sis Adi
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