Yoga: What is it? A spiritual regime? A lifestyle system? A mental exercise? Or just a good way to get fit and beautiful?
As Phuket.Com found out, it’s all of these and more, and for those who are interested in trying it out, there are plenty of options on Phuket.
Phuket Yoga Instructors
Lina Zapata is 34-year-old Colombian who has been practicing yoga for six years. “I was living in the US and decided to check out a centre where they taught “hot” yoga. I didn’t know much about yoga; I just wanted to give it a try,” says Lina.
After three years of learning hot yoga, she achieved a certificate to teach it. Now she teaches at the Bliss Hot Yoga Center in the Central Festival mall – the first center in Phuket dedicated entirely to yoga, with a handful of talented yoga instructors.
“I teach two styles of yoga here. The first style is hot yoga, also known as bikram yoga, and the second is hot vinyasa, or flow yoga.
“We keep the room temperature at 38 to 40 degrees,” she explains. That kind of temperature might seem uncomfortably high but Lina explains that it helps in a number of ways, including improving blood circulation, making the body more flexible and improving heartbeat.
“I have low blood pressure, but it’s not a problem for me to do hot yoga. It actually makes me healthier,” Lina says, though she notes that people with low blood pressure may need to go easy at first and take rests from time to time.
Some of her students go in for hot yoga as a weight-loss regime but for Lina, hot yoga “is very good exercise that uses all the muscles in the body, as well as being all about balancing your body, mind and spirit.”
- Remarks: Lina Zapata teaches at Bliss Hot Yoga Center at Central Festival Phuket. Classes cost 450 baht for a 90-minute session, or you can contact the center for information about available yoga packages by sending email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Narumon “Mon” Vanaatichat
Narumon “Mon” Vanaatichat moved to Phuket two years ago to work for the Phuket Municipality Health Department. She soon noticed that most of the classes were held inside fitness centres or five-star hotel spas, meaning that regular folk had little access to yoga.
With the green light from the municipality, she started her own classes in February last year, rapidly drawing many men and women of different ages.
A sports science graduate of Chulalongkorn University, Khun Mon started doing yoga herself four years ago, and later taught yoga at a fitness center in Bangkok. “I do yoga in the Hatha style, adding some Pilates into the class to boost the benefit to the abdominal muscles.
“When teaching I have to look at each student individually to know why they want to learn and whether they have any health problems,” Khun Mon explains.
Some of the older students simply want to stay fit while younger ones may use yoga to lose weight. Khun Mon has to design different poses and routines for each. “The most important thing I tell my students is that they should not overdo it. They have to listen to their bodies.
“Some fancy yoga poses, to my mind, are just for show. The person doing it may gain something from it but there is also some concern from the medical point of view that extreme yoga positions may cause muscle damage. So it’s important to listen to your body.”
- Remarks: Narumon “Mon” Vanaatichat runs classes from Monday to Friday, 18:00-19:00 in the new park behind the Tourism Authority of Thailand offices on Thalang Rd, Phuket City. The fee is just 20 baht a session because classes are subsidised by the municipality. Anyone is welcome. Khun Mon may also be reached by calling +66 (0) 76 354501
Orasiri Ruktae-ngam is a Phuket native. While not busy running the Layan Beach Resort & Spa Village, the resort owned by her family, she teaches yoga. “I like all kinds of exercise,” she says, “and I have always been interested in yoga.”
Seven years ago she met Ajarn Noi, a Thai yoga guru from Ayuravej College, who broadened her view of yoga, persuading her to study it in greater depth.
“I used to think of yoga as just a beautiful form of exercise but after studying more, I learned to appreciate the connection of the movement of the Asanas and the way our muscles work,” Khun Orasiri says.
Working at the hotel, Khun Orasiri frequently got requests from guest for yoga lessons, so she joined a yoga-for-health class and later started to teach it. “I teach mainly at Ora Zen & Yoga in Phuket City, and at the Prince of Songkla University. My fee depends on the number of students in the class and their reasons for wanting to learn yoga,” she says.
She notes that there are classes in many different styles of yoga available in Phuket, but that few students are doing it for the right reasons. Some do it to lose weight, others to have a beautiful body or a healthier skin.
“All these these are the antithesis of yoga. Yoga is about building up good immunity for both body and mind. I would recommend any person interested in learning first to try to understand the different kinds of yoga and then choose the style they believe best suits them. That way, they will get the greatest benefit from practicing yoga,” says Khun Orasiri.
- Remarks: Orasiri Ruktae-ngam is the Sales Director of Layan Beach Resort & Spa Village. She can be reached by email to email@example.com
Roxanne de Guzman
Roxanne de Guzman came to live in Phuket since three years ago. A Canadian born of Philippine and Polynesian parents, she came initially to help The Racha resort, on Racha Yai Island, to set up a spa.
“Later on I worked as a consultant, and set up the spa and kids’ club for the Indigo Pearl Hotel,” she says.
She hold a sports & rehabilitation degree from the UK and a number of certificates in related fields including a diploma in spa management and development from Thailand’s famous Chiva Som Academy. Before moving to Asia, she worked as a personal trainer for such top Hollywood names as Jennifer Aniston and Cuba Gooding Jr.
Roxanne first tried yoga in 1989. Since then she has made countless trips to India to learn and has joined many yoga schools and workshops including Hatha & Iyengar, Ashtanga, Anusura and Jivamukti. She started teaching about six years ago.
Despite all this experience, Rozanne says that she is still learning about yoga. “I think a good yoga teacher must be humble and must have a real understanding of what the yoga method is all about.
“Nowadays people have more choices when it comes to vacations. Many choose to take a healthy holiday,” says Roxanne. “As a result, people are looking for more from their hotels. For example, first they will check whether the hotel has a gym, then they will ask whether there is a spa or yoga facilities. Phuket has a lot to offer now.”
- Remarks: Roxanne de Guzman teaches yoga daily at Palm Garden bungalow near Chalong Bay. The fee is 400 baht per 90-minute session, or 3,000 baht for 10 sessions. She can be reach by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Other Yoga Centers
Sukko Cultural Spa & Wellness on Chaofah West Rd offers a daily yoga class in Ashtanga style. For more information, email email@example.com
Banyan Tree Spa in Cherng Talay offers a free one-hour yoga class (Pranayam style) to all hotel guests at 10:30 every day except Wednesday. Advance booking is required. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Atsumi Healing Center in Rawai offers all sorts of retreats and therapies, including daily yoga. For more information, email email@example.com
For a beginner shopping for a Yoga mat in Phuket, try Watsons in Central Festival, which sells a basic mat for 299 baht. For higher quality, try Super Sports in the same mall. They have a variety of international brands, including Nike, ranging in price from 700 to 1,300 baht.