Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Ashtanga Yoga in Koh Phangan with Kirstin and Mitchell

My 10 weeks in Goa and 8 weeks of practicing ashtanga Mysore stlye with Rolf and Marci in Anjuna had come to an end. The next stop: Koh Phangan, Thailand. Still on my yoga journey and off to experience the teachings of Kirstin and Mitchell.

Even though I have been to Thailand before, coming from India was a real change. The roads are good, there wasn't the constant beeping of horns and random overtaking from a variety of vehicles and the drivers weren't deciding their own speed limits and there were no cows and other animals in sight. The streets were cleaner and there wasn't the masses amount of dust and rubbish everywhere. It felt good to be here but I will still miss India and it's organised chaos that makes it such a fascinating and magical place.

After spending two and half months in India I felt pretty dusty and dirty so I really appreciated a hot shower and a very comfortable bed. The Amari hotel (Don Muang Airport) was the perfect pitstop if you are leaving from this airport as a foot bridge leads you directly into the hotel.

I think I'm dreaming, here I am for 6 weeks on a tropical island. The white sands and crystal clear waters are breathtaking. Time to relax, revive and revitalise but the main reason I am here is to continue developing my Ashtanga yoga practice.

About Ashtanga Yoga with Kirstin and Mitchell at Whynam Beach.
Kirstin and Mitchell offer Mysore-style Ashtanga classes as they both learnt from their teacher Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. You can read more about the teachers and how to get to the yoga space here:

The open aired shala is incredible. Elevated over the ocean the view is magic. You can rest long and peacefully in Savasana listening to the waves wash onto the shore underneath. The shala was also listed as one of the best yoga spots in the world.

Kirstin and Mitchell are great teachers. They are approachable, friendly, helpful and very knowledgeable. They cater for all levels of the practice from the advanced practitioner to the very beginner. I saw Kirstin spend a lot of time with the beginners explaining the process of Ashtanga Mysore and giving many options of watching, participating and then guidance with the actual practice.
I am definitely going to seek their teachings again but for me I will wait until they are teaching in Ubud, Bali.

I have been here for three weeks now and I look forward to the next couple. My practice is improving each day and I have had so many little breakthroughs in my body and practice since being here. I am sweating profusely each day so the heat is really aiding in my flexibility. I am now seeing changes in my physical body as it becomes stronger and my shoulders are even starting to feel more open. I am working on my back bends and slowly starting to straighten my arms when I come up into Urdhva Dhanurasana. I can now also do chakrasana (backwards rolling) which I was afraid to try until a few weeks ago.
My right hamstring pain has finally left my body and I can now touch my right foot without any pain at all. It has been nearly a year long and very testing injury. Unfortunately after spending months wearing thongs or flip flops and walking up this mountainous terrain, I have hurt my left calf. I can't do any half lotus positions on my left side but I have learnt from my hamstring injury not to go into any pain. I continue to self massage my calf and legs daily and slowly it is improving.

I am not sure if all of the positive changes in my practice are thanks to the heat, the great energy of the shala or two teachers. Since being here there have been between 15-24 students practicing per day. I have had many adjustments and advice on postures. I really appreciate the time and energy the teachers give to each of their students.

Along with my daily practice I have been attending free meditation classes a few times a week and learning different techniques to relax and control the busy mind. The first week was challenging in learning to sit still and not fidget around. Sitting still and just being in the present moment sounds easy enough but I have really found it to be difficult. Even being here in Koh Phangan for 6 weeks I have found myself thinking I should really be doing something more proactive and working to get money. Its hard to allow yourself your own time to do nothing and think of nothing and be in the present moment. Meditation is meant to help with this and after 3 weeks of being on a secluded island with the only thing I have to do is attend yoga, I have only just come to terms with this being ok.

Travelling to other countries can really open your eyes to so many different potentials and possibilities. I have learnt a lot about myself on this trip. It has been a great time to set myself goals. My main goal is to dedicate the remainder of this year to a daily yoga practice. My other is to work on my blog and business. I want to continue having a life style where I am located in a beautiful part of the world for many months at a time. I am very lucky to live in Australia as our backyard is pretty amazing.

I am locating myself in Launceston Tasmania from June till sometime in the late year. I will be teaching yoga and doing my remedial massage. I encourage anyone who is interested in starting yoga to at least give it go and see if you like it. There are many forms and types of yoga so try a few different classes to find the right style for you. There is no harm is trying.

Expand your mind, challenge yourself, learn more, do more and try more. Get enthusiastic, passionate and excited about the unknown. Try something new, visit new places, dance to the latest beats. Simply get out and give it all and you will never stop growing, smiling and loving life.
- Ricardo Housham -

Clear tips: If heading to The Yoga Space in Koh Phangan.

We didnt realise it was going to be so hard to find accommodation so we settled on a basic bungalow at Beam . It has a double bed, fan, hammock, mosquito net and the bathroom which doesn't have a roof, only cold water, a non flushing toilet, a sink and constant power which is a plus. Beam Bungalows are very close to the Yoga Space and the walk is very easy to the shala, plus Beam have the best coconuts by far (50 BT each). Our bungalow is 600 BT per night. Prices differ for the seasons.
If you want cheaper accomodation then you can try Why Nam bungalows starting from 400 Bt but the power is only on from 4pm till 11pm and you also have to eat at least one meal there or you will be asked to leave.
Haad Yuan has many different bungalows strewn over the rocky headlands and the prices start from 350 BT. The wide stretch of sandy beach is beautiful. The walk to yoga from Had Yuan to WhyNam is 25 minutes.

Just next to Beam Bungalows there is a party everyday Friday night continuing through to Saturday evening.
The party then heads over to Eden which is on Haad Yuan and continues for Saturday night through to the mid afternoon of Sunday.
On moon days there is always a party.

Wifi can be purchased from the Sanctuary, Big Blue and Bamboo huts.

Places to eat:
The Sanctuary has a wide range of healthy food with an extensive menu, they also have a coffee machine. I really enjoy the healthy porridge which is packed with nuts, dates and seeds. They also offer a special menu for people who are fasting or on a detox.
The Bamboo Huts are my favourite place to eat. I'm a little hooked on the banana muffins, warm pumpkin salad and the Thai Green Papaya salad.
Whynam meals are always tasty and its the most peaceful beach.

Things to do:
The Santuray also offers yoga, tai chi, meditation, massage, movies nights and more. From restaurant hoping to enjoying the idyllic white sands and beautiful green waters there is plenty of time for relaxing here.

In Had Rin you will find more on offer such as a 7Eleven, many small boutiques, eateries, chemists and the ATM's. You can catch a longtail boat to Haad Rin whenever you like.

If it's a tropical island holiday you are after with detoxing, relaxing, sun, magical green waters, bush walks, yoga or partying then this just may be the spot for you.




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  2. Koh Phangan is world-famous for its Full Moon parties, with up to 30,000 people partying on the beach in Koh Phangan Resort to share sweat with people from all over the world! The party peaks at sunrise and eventually tapers off in the afternoon, leaving a scene of carnage behind on the beach. Full Moon Parties are chaotic but lots of fun, and generally considered a rite of passage in Southeast Asia.


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