Inspired by his grandfather, a sincere spiritual yoga practitioner, Bikram Keshari Patra started his yoga journey in his early childhood and has been teaching for the last 13 years. He is now a yoga teacher and consultant at Banyan Tree Samui and to celebrate the International Day of Yoga this month, (June 21st) he shares where in Thailand to visit for a true and unforgettable yoga experience.
Yoga is particularly special to practice when you visit a new country as it can completely alter your state of mind and make you more receptive to the new experiences around you. Artemis Kyprianou agrees, a travel expert from St Albans who has been practicing yoga for 10 years says:
“Thailand has the perfect climate for practicing yoga outdoors, the humid weather feels very similar to India where Yoga originates. The heat allows the body to relax and become fully flexible. The scenery and beaches in Thailand is so beautiful it helps calm the mind ready for a yoga practice.
“Khao Sok national park is perfect for a yoga practice especially in the morning with the mist from the humidity slowly rising amongst the limestone cliffs to create a magical feel. An evening yoga practice would also be phenomenal as there is no light pollution allowing for phenomenal star gazing. I would recommend avoiding the tourist resort parts of Thailand and focus on isolated areas which are steeped in nature such as the national parks and the jungles of Chiang Mai.”
According to Bikram Keshari Patra, yoga popularity in Thailand has ‘increased incredibly’ over the last ten years, and Sian Qureshi, a travel expert for Kuoni with six years of yoga practice under her belt agrees saying ‘I would say that at least 50% of my clients will request a resort or destination that offers yoga from the first point of contact. You can get some of the best yoga retreats in Thailand, with stunning settings that really make the experience.”
Sian’s advice for yoga practice in Thailand includes:
- Choosing a class that has a beachfront setting, or at least is close enough to the ocean so you can hear the waves.
- Always taking a sunrise or sunset option if you can because it takes Bikram yoga to a whole new level.
- Not always relying on a group class or an instructor to practice; find a peaceful setting and go solo.
A day in the life of a Thai yoga instructor: “My day begins early in the morning before sunrise. I get ready with my spiritual sadhana (or yoga practice) followed by a fruit breakfast. It’s karma yoga time after that and then Yoga Asana practices. Lunch should be before 12 noon, then some reading and Meditation. Afternoon yoga session begins at 4:00 pm again until dinner before sunset around 6pm. I spend time taking rest for a while. In the evening I practice candle meditation or what is called trataka and prayer meditation. Finally, I sleep before 10:00pm” – Bikram Keshari Patra, Banyan Tree Samui
Where to practice yoga in Thailand
Banyan Tree Samui
Serene and calm, every villa at the Banyan Tree in Koh Samui has its own private pool. This is an extraordinarily peaceful resort that relaxes you as soon as you arrive with the smell of fragrant Jasmine incense welcoming at the doors.
Don’t miss: Complimentary yoga lessons from Bikram Keshari Patra; they include both group stretching and sun salutation classes – and more personalised private sessions are also available.
Layana in Koh Lant
Elegant and relaxed, and for adults-only, this resort is positioned on one of the finest beaches in Ko Lanta Yai. The newly renovated Linger Longer Spa includes a wellness zone complete with a saltwater pool, dedicated yoga platform and juice bar.
Don’t miss: Once a week, Layana runs a ‘woga’ session, taking yoga practice into the water.
Kata Rocks in Phuket
Stylish and modern, Kata Rocks mixes Ibzia vibes with Thailand traditions to create a central location that couples and groups praise very highly. With a focus on fun and fitness, the resort includes daily yoga and reiki classes from resident teachers.
Don’t miss: Rumoured to be the best place in Phuket to see the sunset, keep an eye out for Sunset Rocks Yoga meditations that take place on the ocean front between 5.30-6.30pm.
Devasom in Khao Lak
Nostalgic and tranquil, Devasom resort is inspired by the forgotten opulence of 6th century Southeast Asia. The hideaway is located on one of the quieter stretches of beach, and is just a ten minute drive from the local markets and independent restaurants. The resort provides a yoga studio with daily yoga sessions and mindfulness meditations.
Don’t miss: Discover beautiful places to practice yoga off the beaten track with a bicycle excursion to the surrounding coconut plantation nearby temples or lush mangrove.
Banyan Tree in Bangkok
Exclusive and memorable, this sophisticated hotel is set on the spectacular South Sathorn Road. Soaring over the heart of the city, the spa and yoga facilities are located on the 20th and 21st floor. As well as yoga classes, the wellness centre also offers pilates and Muay Thai (kick-boxing classes).
Don’t miss: Experience yoga on their sky terrace (be sure to pre-book!) It offers a beautiful view out over the city, a completely invigorating place to start your day.
Anantara in Hua Hin
Tropical and friendly, this original Anantara resort has a spa positioned in beautiful exotic gardens, and includes massage suites, and outdoor bathtubs hidden beyond a walled garden of lotuses.
Don’t miss: Sunrise yoga – the best time to soak in the splendour of the lush setting.