My week in Thailand on a Yoga Retreat
Published on: 27/03/18
After 15 hours of traveling by car, plane, bus and boat we arrive at the RaftHouse for our weeks Jungle Yoga retreat with Simon Low. The 50min boat ride to our private location in the Khao Sok National Park was like a scene from a movie; weaving through the green mountains on the clear green lake. So picturesque.
My first impression of the Rafthouse was that it looked like a haven, so remote and everything it said it would be on the website. Set back in the National Park with the jungle surrounding the floating accommodation. I can now understand why there would be no signal; a weeks digital detox.
Once shown to my bungalow (with en-suite albeit a cold shower) I looked out to the calm lake and listened to the sounds of the jungle.
After lunch we had time to rest and unpack before attending our first Yin Yoga practice. Although Pat has been teaching Yoga for several years I am still a novice so I was looking forward to immersing myself into the discipline. Our afternoon session was all about releasing and recovering from our travels which was exactly what my body needed. It felt like a gentle introduction to the week and I definitely slept better for it. After Yoga we ate dinner and all disbursed off to our bungalows for an early night ready for the 7.30am start the following morning.
Pat and I woke up just after 6am hoping to watch the sunrise, as we sat out on the decking we realised we where slightly too late for the sunrise but it was a lovely moment to sit and listen to the jungle waking up; Gibbons calling within the jungle, birds chirping and the various other sounds surrounding us.
The 3 hour morning practice starts with Qigong, I had never heard of this before. It is a holistic system of co-ordinated body postures, movement, breathing and meditation - similar to Tai Chi. This was out on the decking overlooking the lake in front of the sala. The Qigoing was an interesting concept and I was looking forward to exploring this more throughout the week, the setting allowed us to really visualise our bodies connection with nature and merge the energies. With our bodies feeling more grounded, centred and energised we headed into the sala for Yang Yoga. Yang Yoga is a dynamic and active style of Yoga. Simon assured us that he was starting the week off gently. I recognised a few of the moves but from all of the travels and concentration during the class I was grateful for the shavasana at the end of the 2.5 hour session, where we laid comfortably on our backs and rested.
During the day Pat and I decided to book in for a Thai massage to ease any tension we were holding from the previous day’s travel. It was my first experience of a full body Thai massage and I am hooked. It can feel intense in some areas of the body although you get a great sense of relief afterwards (a bit like when you massage over a foam roller).
The evenings Yin practice complemented my afternoon massage by continuing to free up the connective tissue and joints of my body - really highlighting the areas I need to work on. Yin Yoga is a slower paced session with postures (asanas) being held for longer periods of time.
Dickie and Beth, the hosts at Jungle Yoga are fun, friendly and so knowledgeable about the area. The informed us that we’ll be eating all traditional thai meals that are locally sourced; vegetables from the jungle and fish from the lake. There are a team of cooks/staff that help with a the smooth running of Jungle Yoga and create fresh, inventive meals throughout the day.
Today my body really started to understand the concept of Qigong. We repeated the first session which allowed my body let go a little more, giving me more fluidity.
The Yoga session built on the previous days practice giving familiarity but kept our interest by introducing more moves. As I have mentioned in my previous blog, I have never been to keen on Yoga due to my hyper-mobile joints (overly flexible ligaments) which has caused me to either feel unstable or push myself too far into a position. Having acknowledged this I decided to pull back a little during certain poses and supporting my joints with blocks and props.
Oh how we love a bit of retail therapy! Today we were treated to the ‘pop up’ shop which sells clothing and jewellery designed by Beth and made in Thailand. Money from all the jewellery sales goes to Beth & Dickies children’s charity called BBB - so it was guilt-free shopping knowing our money was going to a good cause.
As we walked back to our bungalows after dinner, I decided to look up (not an easy feat on the wooden plank walkway) and noticed stars. The night sky was so clear without light pollution. Pat and I rolled up a mat laid on our backs and observed the night sky, unsure of what we were looking for we used an App which helped us with the stargazing.
To read the next chapter of this blog click here