Nong Khai 2011
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My primary yoga experience in Thailand was the Pantrix one-week yoga intensive in Nong Khai. I came into it not really knowing what to expect. I had met Pancho on a previous trip to Nong Khai and my impression of him was as a happy-go-lucky musician, a bit of a hippie. Our first yoga session with Pancho started at 7 AM sharp and when it got time to do yoga I thought maybe we would relax, take it easy. I found out quickly that Pancho takes his yoga very seriously and he got us moving in harmony with our breathe in a very efficient, mindful manner, always striving for perfection. The yoga was old school Raja style and it suited me fine. There was a good amount of back-bending and with two-a-day practice sessions I found my back bends, one of my weak points, improved considerably. Pancho has an encyclopedic knowledge of yoga and was able to give a good explanation of the why’s and how’s of yoga which I really appreciated. This is something which I find lacking with yoga in India.
Beatrix is the luminary on breathing and I also heard good reviews of her reiki treatments but wasn’t able to get a session in this trip. She taught us several yogic breathing exercises (pranayama) which are designed to balance the body and mind and enhance meditation. One evening she guided us through a deeply relaxing meditation session. Unfortunately for me I found it too relaxing and fell asleep at the most interesting part of this journey swimming into the subconscious. Next time!
I took away a lot from this week. I am more mindful about my movements and posture, both on and off the yoga mat. I am also more conscious of my breathe and have continued with the breathing exercises. This should pave the way for meditation practice in the near future. At the end of the yoga day, Pancho would read a passage from one of my favourite books “The Prophet” and this has reawakened my interest in this wonderful book. I highly recommend this course and hope I am able to return to Nong Khai for more Pantrix yoga in the future.
There came a point in my Thailand journey where I wanted to escape the cities for a bit and headed to the island Koh Phangan. It is an island of contrast with the full moon party scene on one side and the yoga hippie scene on another. My accommodation was located closer to the party scene and once I got exploring I found the further up the yoga side of the island I got, the better I felt. There are many yoga establishments and the one with the largest presence is called Agama yoga. Your first day there you can check it out for free 🙂 The place has a great community vibe about it, though the yoga was a tad slow for my liking. On my free day I took in both the morning and evening yoga and also heard a good lecture from the Swami about dedication to yoga. The icing on the cake this day was a party put on to celebrate the belly-dance teacher training course completion. That’s right, there were about twenty-five new belly-dance instructors dying to show off their talents!! I have seen belly-dancers before and been mildly interested but this was in whole different league. The energy, creativity and skill of these women was extraordinary. I chose a very good day to check out Agama.
One serendipitous benefit of my Agama day was that I came across a small notice on their bulletin board of a woman, Pinar, offering Chi Nei Tsang abdominal massage on an exchange basis. What a great idea, to get practice massaging by exchanging for massage or other treatment. I had no idea what this massage was, so why not give it a try? The massage was strictly in the abdominal area and starts out fairly mild and gets deeper and deeper and until finally the internal organs are massaged. When she got to my liver, a wave of relaxation deeper than any I have felt before washed over me. I generally have a hard time relaxing completely in massage but with this one I felt like my legs had floated off my body. Of the many, many massages I had in Thailand this is definitely one of the best. Thank you Pinar!
In Chiang Mai, I practised at Wild Rose yoga a few times. This is another place with a warm, welcoming vibe. The yoga is Anusara style, which I found nice for a change from my regular Ashtanga. My favourite time at Wild Rose is Friday evening when you can practice yoga and later relax in the beautiful, herbal steam sauna,. Rose makes great body scrubs on sauna night and the combination of yoga, sauna and scrub leaves your skin feeling ten years younger.
I wish there was more yoga in Thailand, especially Ashtanga, but there is good yoga to be found and I can only see it growing in this land I love.