Yoga is fast growing in popularity all over the world, especially in Thailand in places such as Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Phuket, and is definitely not just for women and tree huggers despite some common misconceptions. It’s become quite a big business in Phuket with many established yoga centres and specialist retreats, and there are dozens of private instructors that can tailor sessions to each individual.
Many resorts and spas have yoga classes on their menu and provide an ideal setting in which to participate, often as part of a more holistic and complete health and relaxation package, or combined with other health treatments and sports such as Muay Thai. Part of yoga’s enduring appeal is that it can improve one’s overall fitness, physical and mental wellbeing and is also an excellent workout routine. The health benefits are considerable and include better blood circulation, increased strength, skin toning, and stress reduction, to name just a few.
Mind, Body and Soul…
For anybody that doesn’t really know what yoga is all about, the type of yoga generally available in Phuket is known as Hatha Yoga which concentrates mainly on the physical and exercise related aspects. Yoga originated in India and comprises a series of sometimes challenging stretches and poses, many of which appear quite amazing feats as the body contorts into impossible looking shapes, and the yogis (the term for a yoga student) normally perform them in a set routine depending on the type of yoga involved. Yoga is essentially based on different postures (asanas), breathing techniques (pranayama), poses (mudra) and meditation. Many people who try yoga enjoy the experience immensely, and can expect great improvements in strength, balance and energy levels.
There are a few well known variations and different techniques in yoga. Methods commonly practiced in Phuket include Hot Yoga (also known as Bikram Yoga after Bikram Choudhury who pioneered it in the 1970’s) in which a set of 26 poses are performed in a 90 minute period, and takes place in a very hot room (around 45 degrees Celsius). It’s believed that the intense sweating produced cleanses and purifies the body. Another popular form of yoga in Phuket is Ashtanga Yoga, which is a fast-paced set of poses that are always be performed in the same order. This can be quite a demanding routine due to the speed at which the student has to move and flow smoothly from one posture to the next. It is an excellent way to experience a thorough and intensive workout. A few places also provide the more passive Thai Yoga, which is dissimilar to modern yoga and more like a regular massage with pressure applied and strenuous bending. Thai yoga is always performed by an experienced practitioner and doesn’t require you to learn any complex manoeuvres.
To join a group yoga class at a shala (which means a yoga school), you can expect to pay at least 300 baht for a single session. The only equipment required (and always provided) is just a yoga mat to make it the whole process more comfortable. Private sessions are available just about everywhere and will cost a fair bit more, but they are recommended if you have specific needs or just want to hone your skills more quickly. Several places also provide sizeable discounts for multiple sessions, as well as monthly and yearly membership programs.
Phuket Yoga Resorts and Retreats
The resorts listed below are more than simple drop-in centres where yoga classes are held; they provide luxurious accommodation and can be an ideal place to spend a few weeks as part of a complete holistic and fulfilling holiday yoga experience.
Atsumi Healing Centre
Astumi combines meditation and full yoga workouts as well as a whole host of other healthy activities such as mountain biking and walking on the beach. They are based in the south of Phuket in Rawai.
The Banyan Tree Spa
The Banyan remains one of the best and most luxurious spas in Phuket (and the world) and offers a range of yoga classes. Why not treat yourself and stay in the lap of luxury?
Address: 33 Moo 4, Srisoonthorn Road, Cherngtalay, Thalang
Tel: +66 (0) 76 324 374
Karuna Meditation Centre
This calm and serene retreat in lovely Kamala Beach is on a small hill that overlooks the Andaman sea, a great place to get away from the pressures of modern life. As the name implies, they provide the ultimate environment for meditation but also offer Thai Yoga.
Sukko Cultural Spa and Wellness
The Sukko spa focuses on Astanga yoga with drop-in, private and monthly classes available. Prices start at around 400 baht for a regular drop-in class.
Address: 5/10 Moo 3, Chao Fa Road, Phuket Town
Tel: +66 (0) 76 236 222
Phuket Yoga Centres
The following yoga centres in Phuket provide various classes. There’s some variation between them as some focus on hot yoga and others offer ashtanga yoga, for example.
Abbysan Yoga and Wellness Centre
Address: 27/13-14 Moo 4, West Chao Fa Road, Phuket Town
Tel: +66 (0) 76 304 277
Bikram Hot Yoga Phuket
Address: 46/202-205 Phra Baramee Road, Kathu
Tel: +66 (0) 76 202 173