Getting Grounded: Teaching Yoga on Koh Tao

Balance.  It’s a major theme in yoga.  Not only balancing in a posture or balancing the brain hemispheres, but finding the right balance within your life.  With the amount of partying that goes on in Koh Tao, I’ve found that teaching yoga has been the best way to find a more balanced lifestyle on the island.

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Rule number 1 of flying yoga: No farting. Also the most commonly broken rule.

For the past few months I have been teaching an Ashtanga / Vinyasa flow class at Grounded: Koh Tao’s Wellbeing center.  The sala fits in with the Koh Tao atmosphere, as it is open aired on a floor of sand.  The yoga mats are placed on large bamboo reed mats that provide great support while maintaining and island feel.  Trees surround the shala, providing a natural soundtrack of birds, lizards, and insects.

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Stretching it out in the shala.

Each class is an hour and a half long, which seems to fly by when teaching a class.  The first 20 minutes are usually devoted to pranayama and a short meditation to calm the mind and establish a connection between the breath and body.  The asana portion of the class follows and varies based on the energy and experience of the class.  Teaching on an island, many people show up to give yoga a try for the first time.  This can make it a little difficult to lead a class that is challenging enough for the regular yogis yet easy enough to follow for complete beginners.  The reward of seeing the look of contentment displayed on someone’s face after their first class is a special feeling.  It’s always cool to introduce someone to something that you love, whether it be yoga or scuba diving.

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Letting gravity do its thing to my boy Steve. Otherwise known as Allen from The Hangover.

It is also really cool to be introduced to something new as well.  My friends Gabby and Ariel lead a flying partner yoga class two times a week based on Acro Yoga.  In these classes, people partner up so that one person is the ‘base’ while the other person is the ‘flyer’, with another person hanging nearby as a spotter.  The base supports the flyer with their hands and feet, keeping them lifted off the ground so that they can get into postures that are challenging and use gravity to naturally open the body up.  Thai massage is a major part of Acro, as massage techniques are applied to both the base and flyer.  Naturally, I was drawn to this style of yoga and have found it to be both challenging and extremely fun.

Teaching and participating in daily yoga on the island has introduced me to new people with similar interests (the Jo’s, Carla, Pete, Caroline, Simon, Steve…) and allowed me to further my own yoga practice and teaching.  It has helped provide the balance in my current lifestyle, effectively keeping me grounded.  Which, as the name suggest, is the goal.

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Food for thought.

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