Yoga Retreat in Thailand: The Real Deal with Megan Stezel
Are you interested in a yoga retreat in Thailand? Here, Megan Stezel shares her experiences and tips.
Tell us about yourself! What do you do when you’re not traveling the world? Where are you from? Where do you currently live?
I am from a small town in Upstate NY near Buffalo. I guess you could say I live there currently. I am a constant traveler. I have been on the road mostly for the last 3 years. I moved abroad in 2012 to teach English and have only been home for a few months at a time since then. To finance it all, I will pick up odd jobs at restaurants, waitressing or bartending for a few months until I am ready to pack up again. I also do some freelance writing, and make a small living from my blog and virtual assistant positions.
I write about my travels with Celiac disease and food allergies. It is something that shapes my experiences tremendously and I hope to inspire others who are apprehensive to jump out into the world due to food restrictions.
What kind of retreat did you participate in? Where was it located? How did you spend your time there?
I participated in a 7-day yoga retreat on the small island of Koh Phangan in Thailand. It was on the opposite side of the island from the beach where the infamous Full Moon Parties were. The retreat was a 10-minute walk from a gorgeous, clear beach known as Haad Salad and was home to only a handful of businesses and accommodations.
My days began at 6:30 with a chai at the common area table and then 2 hours of Ashtanga yoga in the large, covered yoga platform. Afterwards I ate breakfast and had an hour long lecture series that took us through the limbs of yoga and the theories and history behind it.
After the lecture, I made my way back for lunch and then to the beach for a few hours of sun and swim. Every other day I treated myself to a $5, hour-long massage on the beach. Around 4pm I made my way back to the retreat, showered and then had an hour and a half long Hatha class. The instructor started with the highest Chakra and based each class around a descending chakra. They happened to line up perfectly with the areas of my body that were the most sore from the morning session.
After our evening class came dinner and relaxing with a good book. Wifi/internet was not available on the retreat grounds so some evenings, I would walk down to another restaurant and sip on a mango lassi and catch up on the outside world.
The restaurant in the retreat was vegetarian and offered vegan and raw options as well. It was some of the most delicious food I have ever had and often consider booking a flight back just to taste the food again.
What made you decide to participate in the retreat?
I had spent a year living in Thailand and wanted a detox/recharge before heading back to the US. I practiced yoga pretty regularly so it seemed to be a great option! The retreat itself was in a beautiful place and had many positive reviews. I actually had a friend who had visited this specific retreat and she spoke very fondly of it.
What were the highlights of the retreat? What disappointed you about the retreat?
One highlight was the food! Also, the grounds–they were like being in the middle of a jungle, and I had some nightly visitors in the form of giant iguanas and large cicadas. The only thing that disappointed me about the retreat was that I didn’t stay longer. Honestly, it was everything I wanted it to be. The owners were a bit egotistical but very tolerable and certainly had the knowledge to back up their egos.
How, if at all, did the retreat change you? Were there new practices you incorporated into your life following the retreat?
It introduced me to a whole new style of yoga, Ashtanga. I have worked hard to incorporate this into my daily routine. It is a series that is meant to be done in the mornings and helps to instill discipline into your practice.
What are some of the benefits of participating in a retreat? What are some of the downsides? Would you participate in another retreat?
Benefits include meeting like-minded people. I made some wonderful, lifelong friends during my week at the retreat. It also forced me to practice two times a day for a week. Sure, I could have skipped a class, but the instructors would have known and that guilt would have eaten me alive.
The downsides were that it was difficult to replicate the practice once I returned to my everyday life. Committing two to three hours to yoga practice each day is very difficult.
I would absolutely, 100% participate in another retreat. I look for them everywhere I travel to now!
Are there any tips you’d give someone else who is considering a similar retreat?
Check reviews. Personally, I am not into the super faith based retreats. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t heading into a chanting, meditating type of retreat. I wanted a strong practice and some time to myself and I got just that!
Photo Credit: Fabio Achilli