Thailand

Islands off the coast of Thailand By Sonja Bjelland

Islands off the coast of Thailand By Sonja Bjelland

 

Yoga in Thailand

In the former Kingdom of Siam, it’s almost as easy to find a yoga studio as a plate of Pad Thai. And just as equally, some will be more to your taste.

Head north to join the monks and hippies in Chiang Mai or Pai or south for yoga bunnies on the beach. Casual walk-in classes are easier to spot but several places offer long-term classes. Only a few, and mostly high-end, places offer the kind of live-in accommodations you can find in India but that can be a plus for travelers looking to add yoga to their day.

Bangkok, Thailand By Sonja Bjelland

Bangkok, Thailand By Sonja Bjelland

What to pack: Thailand edition

As I was preparing to go to Thailand several full moons ago, I started looking at the labels of some of the clothes I was going to buy. All said “Made in Thailand.”

I figured I’d just buy it when I got there.

That proved a good model and an easy option for when in Thailand. My biggest problem was donating the clothes I had that didn’t fit me because I took more than I should have.

 

 

Wheel pose sculpture by Venetia Walkey at The Queen's Gallery in Thailand

Wheel pose sculpture by Venetia Walkey at The Queen’s Gallery in Thailand

Studying Thai massage in Thailand

Plastic deck chairs and small mattresses line certain blocks of Thailand’s cities.
It’s massage time.

A massage, on the sidewalk?

Yes, a Thai massage.

Sometimes called a Thai yoga massage in the States, this isn’t the get-naked variety.

Locals fill up the chairs for what feels like a mix of massage and chiropractic work.

 

 

The remains of a temple in Chiang Mai, Thailand By Sonja Bjelland

The remains of a temple in Chiang Mai, Thailand By Sonja Bjelland

Yoga in Chiang Mai, and so much more

Within hours of landing in Chiang Mai, Thailand, I had gathered a stack of pamphlets.

Massage classes. Yoga classes. Cooking schools. Elephant treks.

It was time to get organized.

I’ve found so much to do here, I started using my calendar system so I could sign up for classes and such on different days. I don’t even think I’m going to be able to fit in the meditation classes at one of the Buddhist temples. But I will have to make it over to the famed night market.

 

 

Chiang Mai, Thailand By Sonja Bjelland

Chiang Mai, Thailand By Sonja Bjelland

Yoga in Chiang Mai, Thailand – so many options

In my time in Chiang Mai, I managed to attend classes at only three of the studios and enjoyed all of them.

Some classes, however, are quite advanced and may fill up fast requiring pre-registration.

All the yoga studios and some organic cafes have fliers about what’s going on in the yoga community. Different retreats, new teaches or gatherings will be advertised there. I really like DaDa Kafe because it has free wifi and a huge bowl of muesli, fruit and yogurt.

 

 

A little elephant sprays itself with dust in Chiang Mai, Thailand By Sonja Bjelland

A little elephant sprays itself with dust in Chiang Mai, Thailand By Sonja Bjelland

Yoga and elephants – maybe they don’t mix

I had hopes of bringing you all quite the excellent yoga-elephant adventure.

Instead, I had conflicted feelings the entire time.

In the pile of fliers I picked up around town, I saw the YogiMahout. A mahout is a man who trains elephants. The brochure showed people doing yoga poses on the backs of the elephants. It talked about uniting with your elephant and developing a relationship.

 

 

 

Long tail boats on Koh Phi Phi, Thailand By Sonja BJelland

Long tail boats on Koh Phi Phi, Thailand By Sonja BJelland

Yoga on Koh Phi Phi in Thailand

The sand had to be swept off the platform before we could put the mats down.

With the sun setting and looking out on the boats moored in Ton Sai Bay we began sun salutations.

Keiritas Yoga holds some yoga classes at the quieter end of Koh Phi Phi in the Andaman Sea off the coast of Thailand. A 10-minute walk from the main pier and town area, Mama’s Beach Residence faces the boat traffic and I tried to subdue my envy of the sailors calling this port home for the night.

 

 

 

Yoga hall at The Sanctuary on Koh Phangan in Thailand By Sonja Bjelland

Yoga hall at The Sanctuary on Koh Phangan in Thailand By Sonja Bjelland

Yoga on Koh Phangan – the sunrise side

As the boat pulled away from the beach, the sea looked like those magazine covers. So turquoise maybe someone played with the color saturation in the photo.

I was heading from my studies at the Agama Center, to the other side of Koh Phangan to a placed called The Sanctuary.

Engulfed in jungle, the wellness resort sits on a secluded beach and happy hour was well underway by the time I arrived.

 

 

 

A longtail boat off Koh Phangan on a sunny day By Sonja Bjelland

A longtail boat off Koh Phangan on a sunny day By Sonja Bjelland

Thailand island travel adventures

One major yoga vacation lesson from today however, is to never do an intense class hours before needing to lug everything you have.

I’ve been in this isolated nook on Koh Phangan in the Gulf of Thailand known as Haad Thien. Magazine-cover beautiful, but difficult to reach. It even proved more difficult to leave. And not just because it’s such a relaxation-inducing place.

 

 

 

 

Sunset in Koh Phangan By Sonja Bjelland

Sunset in Koh Phangan By Sonja Bjelland

Happiness lectures in Thailand

On most evenings, unfortunately during the beautiful sunset, the Agama center has a lecture for all the students.

Each focuses on a different topic in yogic philosophy or something more specific to this branch of what’s considered Kundalini yoga in the States. The talks also mix in with whatever yoga poses we’re learning that day and after 4 hours of meditation and “asanas” or poses it helps. I also like these lectures because I’m a thinker and otherwise it could get boring for me just sitting by the beach all the time.

 

 

 

Reclining Buddha in Bangkok, Thailand By Sonja Bjelland

Reclining Buddha in Bangkok, Thailand By Sonja Bjelland

Bangkok bliss: Yoga in Thailand

After India, Bangkok is like a dream.

Reclining Buddha in Bangkok, Thailand By Sonja Bjelland

My hotel is clean and has hot water. And I didn’t even have to pay a ton. Heck, I even have air conditioning.

The roads are paved to the store fronts and not a cow in sight.

But I needed a yoga class to sooth my body after walking all day taking in the Grand Palace, temples and museums.

 

 

Boy in Thailand meditating By Laura Hitchman

Boy in Thailand meditating By Laura Hitchman

Yoga in Thailand – A force for change

Having enjoyed dabbling in yoga at various locations across the globe, I was keen to maintain this theme when choosing a location at which to volunteer. I stumbled upon Baan Unrak Children’s Village; a Thai non-governemental organisation (NGO) that uses many yogic principles and practices in the running of its organisation.

Baan Unrak literally translates as House of Joy; a name surprisingly fitting for an organisation that deals with such strife on a day-to-day basis. Situated in Sangkhlaburi, West Thailand, this NGO-with-a-difference is committed to housing and educating abandoned children and single mothers on the border of Burma.

Yoga Stances