It had been less than six weeks since we started traveling, yet we felt the need to take a break before our next big adventure in India and landed at Island Yoga in Koh Yao Noi, Thailand for five nights. This place isn’t without it’s faults, so I won’t paint it as a true paradise, but it was definitely needed and enjoyed by both of us. We met wonderful people from around the world, some fellow travelers and others just on a short holiday.
Each morning, we voluntarily awoke at dawn to participate in Tai Chi on the beach and joyfully watch the sunrise before the morning yoga class began at 7:30 a.m., and lasted two full hours, although there were large blocks of breathing and stretching included. Afternoon yoga began at 4:30 p.m. and lasted an hour and a half, but was always focused on relaxation and working the muscles that weren’t too tired from the morning class.
In between, we were free to do as we liked, so on our first full day we rented bicycles for a 14km ride to and from town for organic smoothies and some sun at Pasai Beach. The following day, we opted for a guided tour through mangroves on the neighboring island of Krabi, and spent the day kayaking with four other girls from the retreat and our hilarious guide Pong.
The last few days we participated in additional yoga workshops that were offered, such as learning more about the importance of strengthening our core muscles, and we had fantastic massages from the sweet old woman at Arat Massage, who whispers as she scoops away your pain with her gentle but strong little hands.
We got a bit more than we bargained for with the mosquito bites, cockroaches in our bathroom, sunburns (or “barbequed” as one local woman said when pointing to our legs after two hours of kayaking in the mid-day sun), and random downpours of cool rain, but it is a tropical island after all!
It felt so nice to stay put for five nights and to get in some good exercise and stretching, not to mention all the great advice we received from socializing with other travelers. I even got in a few short runs after the afternoon yoga classes, and of course, Danica learned how to practice yoga! She was a bit hesitant at first, but ended up liking it more after a few days and enjoyed relating the poses and additional workshops to her nursing career.
When we arrived, there were about 50-60 guests at the retreat, but since April is the start of the slow and rainy season for the island, that number was cut in half by the time we left and it was quite enjoyable to have smaller, more focused classes the last few days.
One of the cool things about this retreat is the variety of instructors and never knowing what type of class you are going to get before it starts. However, the opposite is true in that some classes were more uncomfortable for those who don’t enjoy partner yoga, or who prefer more active yoga and less breathing or chanting. By now, I’m sure you’re wondering about the title choice for this blog, so here goes.
Full disclosure, a few days after we arrived in Bangkok, we decided to stop shaving for many reasons: laziness, shorter showers (we are good Californians!), curiosity, maybe to feel like real backpackers, although we found out we are called “flashpackers” since we have means and electronics, and even though we are traveling with just backpacks, we aren’t actually staying in hostels.
A month in, we were both disgusted with our hairy legs and found a great waxing salon in Da Nang to clean ourselves up. We left feeling much better (and sore since that was my first experience with a leg wax, which is a lot of surface area to cover!) and vowed to wait it out another 4-6 weeks for the next waxing session. Did I mention we also stopped shaving our armpits? We noticed that many travelers were doing the same thing, so no judgment!
There I was, in my first yoga class at the retreat, dripping sweat from the extreme afternoon heat and humidity on the island, wearing clothes I’ve already worn a few times without washing, my face positioned directly in my armpit, and instead of focusing on my breath, I was only thinking about the long hair glistening there in the sunlight. And that was the moment that I decided I am a dirty yogi…and I like it!
It was fun to spend a week in yoga clothes, sweating in class and out, as just walking to dinner was enough to break a good sweat. It felt good to walk in the rain or jump in the bath water tempuratured pool after an evening run. And it was really great to be around so many like-minded people who traveled to this remote island to relax and find their chi.