Exercise is a fantastic way to stay healthy, engage in local community, overcome jet lag, and alleviate the symptoms of culture shock. Yoga classes were a highlight of my time in Kata Bay on Phuket Island in Thailand this past week. If you’re traveling there, here are some places worth a visit…
KATA YOGA STUDIO
Don’t be thrown off by the lack of “hot” or “bikram” in their name. This is a HOT yoga studio, practicing the traditional 26 moves of Bikram. Although I realized that Bikram yoga is not for me after attending this class, that is no fault to the class itself. If you love hot yoga, or have always wanted to try it, this is a a great place to start.
When you arrive, there’s water for sale (and regularly not over-priced) and a safe place to keep your personal belongings. The class is full of travellers, expatriate residents, and local Thai people. There are often the elitist not-so-friendly yogis in classes, but this class was definitely a friendlier one. People were very encouraging and respectful, with regulars welcoming you to the class.
The best part about the class is the instructor. Directions were extremely clear. If you’re new to the class, he asks your name at the beginning and uses it to direct you if needed, albeit in a friendly and encouraging manner. It’s a tough 90 minutes, but with the supportive instructor and silent encouragement of the other yogis, you can definitely manage. And if you need a break, there is no one reprimanding you (which I’ve heard can be an issue in other Bikram classes).
This is a fabulous location, just across from a main entrance to Kata Beach.
Check their website www.katahotyoga.com or write to email@example.com for updated schedule and prices for when you’re going. Feel free to ask about a special rate based on your travel times – they were willing to give me a discount for the amount of time I’d be going.
Belove Yoga is the studio part of C.C.’s Hideaway – a small lodge that acts like a yoga holiday for guests. C.C.’s Hideaway will pick you up and bring you to the class for free, or it’s easily accessible via a short taxi ride or on a rented scooter. The best thing about this place is the amazing view – it’s a steep climb to the hotel, but it means the views are SPECTACULAR!
The yoga studio itself is outside, overlooking the beautiful Thai vegetation and going straight down to the sea. Facing west, it offers amazing views of the sun setting over the ocean – and they take advantage of this with their sunset yoga classes.
I did a private ashtanga class which allowed excellent one on one direction from the instructor. I was scheduled for an hour and 15 minutes, but he took almost two hours. Luis, my instructor, made me really feel like he cared that I improved my practice – the fact that he took the extra time with me really reflects this.
The instruction itself was superb. He came and corrected my positioning when needed, encouraging and praising when I was doing things well. At the same time, he allowed for peaceful serenity. The class was silent many times, giving the opportunity to embrace the wonderment of doing yoga in such a stunning location. He advised that if I were to return, I should do a group class. Apparently group classes are only about six people, meaning the instructors will also assist you and correct you where needed.
The class was excellent. The only thing needing changing is the mat – it was extremely slippery. Under the heat of the Thai weather, especially given that the class is outside, these mats are ill-performing. I would definitely recommend taking your own mat if you have!
After the class you can use their salt swimming pool or have a homemade shake or healthy curry from their small cafe. These also offer the same stunning view and are a very pleasant way to continue the post-yoga relaxed state.
THE LITTLE YOGA ROOM
I unfortunately couldn’t visit the Little Yoga Room because the schedules didn’t fit my own, but it’s gotten great reviews so shouldn’t go unmentioned! The owner and instructor, Becky, moved to Thailand to teach English and ended up teaching yoga instead, after realizing it was her true passion. She has trained in India and has been recommended by Jamie’s Phuket Blog as a first rate yoga choice when traveling to the country.
Becky was extremely friendly and communicative when I wrote her and I’ll definitely pay her a trip the next time I’m on the island because it sounds like an excellent class.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to verify class times and prices. The website seemed to not be updated in a while, so I’d email instead. She’ll also include a handy map.