After a few days of waiting, the Thai locals doing my laundry managed to get it dry and I finally made the decision last minute to leave my new favourite beach and head for an Island called Koh Yao Noi that is located half way between Krabi and Phuket.
Koh Yao Noi is a predominantly Islamic island in Thailand. It still does not have much commercial tourism and only 1 or 2 large resorts. It also has amazing climbing walls as well as a nature lodge/yoga retreat. I decided to head to Koh Yao Noi purely to do Yoga, meditate and climb.
It took about an hour and a half to get a speedboat and cab to arrive at my nature lodge. On arrival the place instantly felt so peaceful, everyone seemed so nice and friendly introducing them selves. It was a really nice vibe. The bungalows were sweet as they all have a hammock each outside, even though I got the budget room I could still see the water from my porch and everything about the place oozed relaxation. One special thing I loved about the place was it reminded me so much of my best friend I missed from back in Sydney.
The first afternoon I was there we had a nice little intro chat about the nature lodge, yoga and the island. It was for everyone who arrived that day, this was the first moment I realised I had not seen any other males around. Thinking to myself, I thought about how yoga is mainly practiced by girls and I may just find myself to be the only dude here. I don’t know if this was a feeling of nerves or excitement!
We then progressed to our first yoga session. It turned out there was 2 other men there, one of them I hardly spoke to. The other I got along well with and I really can’t wait to catch up with him and his wife when we are in the same part of the world again. Meeting them, as well as others in Tonsai only highlighted the fact that when you go traveling to somewhere for purpose as in a hobby or sport you meet people so much more like yourself and get on well with. Once you get away from the typical commercial drinking travellers more interesting conversations can be had, and better friendships can be made.
Unfortunately the spot in my first class ended up being next to the instructor, so for the whole session my lack of skill was going to be on display to the whole class. I also soon learned that the afternoon yoga session is more relaxing then the morning session. Today Heather the Yogi leading the class spoke of the bombings at the marathon in the US and how she would like to chant some mantras to bring the positive energy back into the lives of those who were injured or lost love ones. There was so much to take in that day and I think a little bit of the mantras was explained but nothing was explained as to how they benefit the mind and body. I was now sitting in a room of about 20 people cross-legged sitting with their eyes close chanting together to help people on the other side of the world. As I think about it now, I realise that I should have known better, but I had no idea any of this was going to happen as I had tried only a little Yoga at more commercial gyms before this session. I have never been in a room full of people chanting before. I am not religious at all and I was a little shocked at first. I was a little concerned I may have some how just ended up in a cult. Lucky it was filled with mostly girls or I may have left at that moment.
I still had a nervous feeling from being in the class so even if I wanted to participate in the chanting at the time I wouldn’t have been able to remember the lines. Instead I closed my eyes at first, as I did really try to get fully involved in the class, but then I decided to open my eyes and have a look around the room to watch everyone. It is a strange feeling when you slowly open your eyes in a situation like this. You start opening one eye at a time and you do a quick circle around the room to make sure no one else is going to catch you with your eyes open. Which is completely ridiculous, because if they see you with your eyes open, this means theirs are open also and you are both as guilty as each other. If any thing it would be pretty funny and you would share a moment of joy together, release a silent laugh and sneaky smile only to snap your eyes shut and try to participate in the class. Instead it was just me with my eyes open, looking around the room watching everyone, being a little spun out deciding if I was going to give 100% commitment to this new experience or not. I think I made a decision at that moment to get the most out of my experience here; it was certainly a comfort zone pushing experience. Saying that, it was hardly the environment one could feel comfortable in without fully participating.
For the rest of the class, though part of the time I would have looked ridiculous while I found my balance in my new activity, I really did fully commit. I am so glad I did as at the end we did a session of meditation. It’s only recently I have started to play around with meditation and attempt to master the skill. I am still in the very early days, though extremely interested and all ready feeling the benefits of meditating. I believe we must learn to sit before we can learn to fly. What I mean by that is I must be able to control my mind to do nothing, so I can have good judgement and sharp reflexes at the times I need them, like sky diving, climbing, free diving and well, just in life. There are many more reasons, though I will cover them in an article I am working on to post at a later date.
Now, this became the first time I have ever attempted meditation with any one else around, in a class, or had a guided meditation. This would still probably be the best meditation experience I have had to date. I was able to completely relax and end up in a state of pure meditation. I am not sure for how long but there was silence for some time, I was completely relaxed and in my zone even though I was in a room of around 20 other people. When suddenly Heather who was taking the class started to chant a mantra and I started getting amazing visuals. It is really hard to explain, but if you imagine you draw a line across the centre of your vision and then divide everything to 12 or so boxes in front equal in size and then you imagine that they all mirror image each other like a butterfly, but exactly like the graphics on windows media player when you have a song playing! That’s what I was seeing, the visuals changed to the vibrations of the mantras and it was an amazing feeling. I know this experience definitely gave me energy and changed the way I think. The only other way I can explain the visuals to someone is if you have ever taken truffles in Amsterdam. It was kind of like that, only better! (I can’t say I enjoyed my truffle experience in Amsterdam)
We were told at the end of the session that one of the girls there was going to be hosting a dance night after dinner. We would all meet completely sober and dance to random music. I wasn’t really that keen, but decided I should check it out and make some new friends, as it was the night’s activity. This dance session confirmed my suspicions. Planned sober dance sessions are completely boring. Even with girls around it was really hard to dance and enjoy it and not feel ridiculous. I probably was being a little bit self-conscious but even with songs I did like I certainly could not find groove and enjoyment like being trashed in a club. Probably won’t let myself get in that situation again.
The night ended early with some amazing fire twirling, and I headed for bed. I had not even been on this amazing island for 12 hours and look at what I had experienced.
If you are interested in heading to the same retreat all details can be found on their website here.
Over the next few days I am introduced to partner yoga, I have a crack at chanting mantras and I take some new friends climbing on a wall that can only be accessed by boat. This will all be covered in part 2.
Hi, I’m Ian and I have made it my life mission to travel and experience everything this world has to offer. Follow me on my quest to live outside the boundaries of conventional society and see the world through the eyes of all our fellow inhabitants. I hope to inspire and motivate you to make your own path in life and push your own limits.