If the latest fitness-friendly Instagram selfie craze is anything to go by, jaunting around the world to deepen your yoga practice is more popular than ever – and Thailand serves as a perfect place to do your downward dogs while staying in some gorgeous spots.
You can attend classes, studios and retreats across the country, but there are three main hubs where you’ll find particularly large yoga scenes throughout the year.
When I think of Bangkok, the first thing that comes to mind is traffic. Then food. Then big fancy hotels… not yoga. However, because of all its craziness, fitting in a couple yoga classes while in Bangkok is a great way to try and balance out the big city buzz and carve out a little space for yourself.
While the yoga centers here aren’t quite as charming or yoga-y feeling as elsewhere in the country, there are still some excellent options with one in particular standing out. Yoga Elements is regularly recognized as one of the top studios in the city – Travel + Leisure even named it “Bangkok’s best yoga studio” – and runs a range of classes, workshops, teacher trainings and private sessions so you’re sure to find something that resonates with you.
Koh Phangan… and the other islands
You can find yoga studios and classes to a certain degree on every island, but if you’re serious about your practice and want yoga to play a major role in your holiday, Koh Phangan is by far the place to be. Yes, the island is infamous for its Full Moon Party (and Half Moon Party and Quarter Moon Party…) but it’s also the yoga center of the south and home to more yoga and retreat centers than any other island including The Sanctuary, a highly popular wellness and detox center, along with a number of other studios such as Agama Yoga, All Yoga Thailand, Blooming Lotus Yoga and more.
It’s no secret that I’m partial to the north but (along with some of the country’s best food, accommodation and landscapes) it truly is the best place for yoga as well. There is a strong yoga and wellness community here with a solid set of local and foreign teachers that work around town. Several yoga studios close to the Old City, such as Namo Yoga or The Yoga Tree, make it easy for travelers to drop in on a class and the welcoming, laid-back attitude helps them feel immediately welcome.
There are also several small studios outside the city center and the Northern Thai hills are a popular setting for yoga retreats. Thailand Yoga Holidays, for instance, runs 10-night retreats that combine a yoga focus while taking full advantage of the true beauty of the north and all that Thailand has to offer with stops in places like Pai, Chiang Dao, a permaculture farm and even a floating retreat center. By discovering the area through one of the company’s retreats, run by a Canadian instructor who’s been living in Chiang Mai for the past eight years, you’ll practice yoga in some unbelievable places you never would have found on your own while also learning more about the country, culture and, of course, eating delicious food.
Have you done yoga in Thailand or gone on a retreat? Where?
Photo from Thailand Yoga Holidays