Guru Yogi Kheiry

Posted: December 31, 2012 in Uncategorized

Its 3.55am, I can’t sleep. I’m back in London, jet lagged. Its almost 11am in Thailand and I concede to the fact that I aint getting any more slumber tonight. I tell myself I did well to make it this far and it will get better tomorrow.

I have a sip of water and sit cross-legged on the floor and begin Pranayama breathing. 10minutes later I am filled with so much energy I don’t know what to do with it and with that there go all my chances of falling asleep again.

Its 4.20AM and here I am writing to you after many months of silence.

I have just returned from the most formidable 9 days in Yoga retreat on the small Island of Koh Yao Noi on the west coast of Thailand.

Before I divulge more, let’s start from the beginning shall we? I have as of late stumbled on 3 months of splendid leave between jobs. After having sorted out my main priorities, I decide to spin the globe once again and embark on yet another adventure. It has not been an easy 12 months for me and it was time to check in with myself again.

I had heard legends told about how amazing rock climbing is in Thailand so I Googled just that, and as the powers of fate may have it, I stumbled on the Island Yoga website by complete accident. A very basic, uninviting website, that somehow called to me. I booked without a second thought. With your room you get breakfast and yoga twice daily, first session is 2hrs at 7.30am, second session is 1.5hrs at 4.30. The island was your oyster for everything in between. Rock climbing was still on the cards! It was win-win.

Island Yoga is essentially a retreat. Providing bungalows that you can either occupy as a single or team up with a roomie. For maximum soul searching, I chose the former. Other amenities are an open family dining area where yogis share meals together, namely post yoga breakfast. I especially loved teasing friends and family back home by sending back a digital image of the sweeping view from breakfast:

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SLEEPING at Island Yoga:

The bungalow is basic and clean. Two sets of steps take you to a porch, where you are equipped with a hammock for maximum relaxation. You walk through the door and find 2 beds that can be separated or joined to form one. You are filled with a feeling of calm, and earthiness. The large mosquito net that covers the bed reminds you that you are in South East Asia and not to take your insect protection lightly. There is a large cupboard with plenty of room to hang and stack clothes. Behind that is the bathroom. These are basic bathrooms. I am a shower person, and to be honest this was a bit of let down, but you remind yourself that this is a yoga retreat and it’s all about Yoga- not showers. What matters most is that the bathrooms worked and were clean, and that they were.

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My Bungalow

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YOGA SCHEDULE:

Less than 20 steps away is the yoga studio. 365 degrees of glass, surrounded by the best flora and fauna the island can offer. In the distance you are served with a short but satisfying measure of the west seas of Thailand. If handled with care, it is within this studio where one can find their inner self.

There are two classes a day, one two hour session at 7.30am, followed by a “family breakfast” where all yogis eat together followed by whatever activities you have planned for the day (or not planned, or do absolutely nothing which can be just as rewarding!). There is a second daily class at 4pm which lasts about 1.5hrs.

I am a beginner. I found the schedule tough with the jet lag. Getting up at 7.15 when your body clock is 7hrs behind is insane! Took me more than a few days to get over it – and I would plan ahead around that. The Yoga itself I found challenging. And I was glad of it. I probably would have gotten very bored if it were easy. In the heat it makes it doubly tough. There are about 5 rotating fans in the studio and its funny cos on your first few days you just want to do Yoga. Then believe me you will quickly wise up and try and position yourself where you get maximum ventilation. I knew the others weren’t randomly picking spots! Grrr. Completely different experience all together. So remember.. POSITION yourself.

Breakfast was always the best part of the day – They made you earn it. My favourite was the eggs. Try the Omelette, along with the Yoga shake. Your body will want something nice and heavy to fill the void.

The 4:30 session was always my preferred one. Especially when Aikiko did one of her Yin classes. It

At Island Yoga they rotate teachers between David, Aikiko and Heather. All three have completely different styles. The only thing that seemed constant was that the morning session was more energy driven and evenings were more meditative and unwinding – the way it should be.

THE TEACHERS:

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David is the head guy at Island Yoga. Think great whisps of hair, intense eyes, relaxed face with a small but ripped figure. He says “Yoga is the work of my life and rock climbing is my passion” – my kinda guy. David is originally from Wales and has been practising Yoga ever since he can remember.  He’s not been back to the UK in over 20 years and his life is now comfortably out in Thailand. His style is mixed and will take you from meditation into pranayama  into Chi Gong into Ashtanga in the space of 2 hours. With the rising morning Thai sun, and the big glass studio you are in, it will start to bake a little. You are thankful for the occasional breathe that escapes in through the chinks in the windows.

Aikiko. David’s partner from Japan, is more of the Yin and Tibetan singing bowls practitioner. She practises Reiki healing, which you can arrange separately with her. Her style is more mystical and will make you think a lot more. Sometimes you will be in a pose for so long with her that you have time to admire one of the many stunning butterflies that fly in and around the studio all day. Do not underestimate her ability to switch the tempo up if she wants to, and she will, and you will sweat.

Heather, the local Californian, has Native American features, very softly spoken and very at one with herself. I did not do so many sessions with her but its definitely “one with the earth”. Universal love and Yoga. This is her style and in her sessions you will be creative, and vocal. She will mix many techniques and is more Hatta & Karma yoga focused. Its a really excellent flow with Heather, many of the other Yogis loved her and she really offers an alternative point of view on the practice. It’s one of the genius things about this place, it’s non conformist and you get a taste of everything. Probably my least favourite of the three styles but definitely one to try.

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Sunsets can be very rewarding in this corner of the globe.

NING:

Ning is probably one of the loveliest ladies I met in 2012. She lives in the main house with her kids and basically is the lady in charge. Ning takes care of everything for you. If you need a booking for a massage on the island (phenomenal- highly recommended), if you want to do a cooking class, organise transport, rent a scooter, go scuba diving, have a slap up meal, she’s you’re go-to girl. She has the loveliest smile and her English is fluent. She will transform your stay. Thank you Ning.

INDIANA JONES:

David will organise an adventure day every week and I highly urge anyone to join in. This will usually either be jungle trekking or kayaking. Kayaking is what I signed up for.

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Here you take a boat to another island closer to Krabi, which in itself is stunning. You rent Kayaks and David will lead you along the coast line into an island through a river system that is riddled with mangroves. Here you are transported into what I can only describe to be Indiana Jones territory. Mind blowingly beautiful. Some of the most stunning wildlife on earth here. I will not go into much detail as I really want you to go and see it for yourself, I want YOUR jaw to drop like mine did. A bubble dwelling Lebanese person once said it best: “It was such a wow”

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Heading back after a day of adventure.

DELICIOUS THAI FOOD:

Do you like cooking? Book a cooking class with Mina. She is a wonderful lady and extremely patient. She can do classes of up to 4 people at a time. You will learn how to cook typical Thai dishes of your choice. You literally have a menu to choose from and you will learn everything in detail and be given a cookbook to take home with you. I love food, and I love to cook. This was a lot of fun and I think the pictures speak for themselves. If you want to experience the colours and flavours of Thai cooking go see Mina. Ning will organise it. One word of advice, don’t go at night, she’s got a field in front of her house and has to open the windows for ventilation. So when she switches her kitchen light on, it’s like a gigantic beacon summoning all creepy crawlies that live in the Kingdom of Thailand.

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Mina and her adopted son. Thank you so much for the cooking class!

END NOTE:

For a beginner yogi this place is awesome, because you do touch on an entire spectrum of yoga. You will also do things you probably never do in your Yoga studio at home. Be prepared to meditate, chant, and try new poses.

For the more seasoned expert, this place is also awesome. Simply because everyone goes at their own pace. Remember, all three practitioners have a wealth of experience you can draw on in order to further advance or tweak your own technique.

This place is not a 5* hotel. The amenities are clean & the beds are comfortable. The food is beyond excellent in and around Island yoga. The island is stunning. The people are wonderful.  You will meet new people. Real people from the real world.

I am from London. I work for an investment bank. I grew up around that kind of life. If you know where I am coming from, take this as an opportunity to experience something real for once.

They say that places that have so many butterflies are filled with positive energy. Why don’t you try it?

Love Kheiry

(I leave you with one last cheeky image)

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Take a chance… You know you want to.

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Comments
  1. Walid Halabi says:

    That a boy. You make me proud.
    You make it so appealing. I think I will follow in your footsteps sometime soon.
    Love.
    Walid

  2. Omar Samra says:

    You’re in Thailand?! Come to ko Chang were here till the 6th!! What you doing for New Years?

    Sent from my iPhone

  3. Anna Klocker says:

    Wonderfully described with beautiful words!!
    It was such a pleasure to get to know you Kheiry and thank you so much for sharing this article!!
    Big Yogi Hug xxx Anna

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