Whether you’re in search of a hard-core workout or a serene session of moving meditation, Thai islands like Koh Samui and Phuket are home to an eclectic array of yoga centres and professional instructors.
"Koh Samui’s Yogarden is a popular hangout for both local and holidaying health junkies"
Thailand is home to a fascinating spiritual culture that entices travellers from across the globe. For visitors keen to re-connect with their spiritual side, the Kingdom has become a hotspot for Thai and international yogis. With spectacular emerald hills and sapphire coastal scenery forming an inspiring backdrop for every asana, it’s no surprise that islands like Koh Samui and Phuket have become a hub for yoga practice and teacher training retreats.
In terms of opportunities for yoga, the islands’ offerings are plentiful and range from chic drop-in studios to rustic open-air salas overlooking lush tropical scenery. If you’re staying in a private rental villa, you even have the option to hire a yoga instructor for a one-on-one session in the property’s private gym or landscaped garden. Here is a selection of Thailand’s island yoga centres for travellers keen to make a morning of their yoga session, and grab a tasty detox juice at the same time.
Koh Samui’s yoga hideaway
"The Yogarden is situated in Koh Samui’s quaint Bophut Fisherman’s Village"
If you’re looking for a secluded haven to take a break from a jam-packed holiday itinerary, Yogarden provides a serene space to spend a couple of hours connecting to your inner self. The centre offers three or four classes per day in a varied range of styles, including Hatha, Iyengar, dynamic flow, restorative yoga and Yin. This impressive choice is perfect for those that want a session either tailored to their holiday schedule or their regular fitness regime.
The Yogarden benefits from the expertise of a selection of teachers from across the globe, and each one brings their unique skills to the classes. Hands-on assistance is also an important part of the practice here, helping you to banish any bad yoga habits that have developed and build your skills up to the next level. There’s also a gorgeous café and garden area to indulge in a tasty, nutritious snack or two once class is over.
"The Absolute Sanctuary is situated in the pleasant Samui hinterland not far from Choeng Mon Beach"
Absolute Yoga Samui is part of the larger Absolute Sanctuary health and wellness centre. The centre is home to two fully-equipped yoga studios that hosts a diverse array of workshops and classes conducted by teachers from around the world, including well-known yogis Paul Grilley, Desiree Rumbaugh and Amy Ippoliti. As such, it’s the ideal spot for yoga lovers who want to drop into a class to carry on the regular yoga routine they follow back at home, or even for those who are looking to do something a bit different while they’re away on holiday.
After building up an appetite in class, lunch or dinner at Absolute’s mouth-watering Love Kitchen is a must. This eatery is living proof that healthy food can be just as tasty as it is nutritious, and you’ll find an array of superfood dishes on the menu.
"The tranquil studio occupies a lofty position, nestled in abundant jungle"
Situated on the sublime shores of the very same cove that inspired Alex Garland’s novel The Beach, The Sanctuary in Koh Phangan is ideally-positioned for those seeking a serene location to discover their inner Zen. This laid back wellness resort is home to a selection of traditional teak bungalows for guests taking part in longer programmes, although plenty of people drop into the rustic hillside studio for one-off classes, too.
The Sanctuary runs a varied programme of workshops for those who want to try out something new, from powerful Vinyasa flow-style classes to slower, more relaxing sessions of Yin yoga. There are three sessions per day, so it’s no problem if you miss the early morning session because you’re busy indulging in healthy treats at The Sanctuary’s rustic open-air café. If you’re in Koh Phangan on a day trip from Koh Samui, the quickest and easiest way to access The Sanctuary is via a long tail boat taxi from Haad Rin beach.
Chalong’s hidden gem
"This cosy yoga studio is an ideal venue for those looking for one-to-one direction in their practice"
If you’ve never tried yoga before, The Little Yoga Room in Chalong on Phuket is the perfect place for the first-timer who wants to give it a go. This adorable studio is ideal for beginners, as the classes are small and the teachers are therefore able to provide each class participant the one-to-one attention they require.
What the studio lacks in size, it more than makes up for in character. Rattan walls and wooden floors infuse the space with a traditional, tropical vibe, creating a tranquil atmosphere to help ease you into 60-minutes of breathing into different postures. The studio is widely known by locals as one of the best in Phuket, and the majority of the classes offered follow the Ashtanga style of yoga. It’s often worth bringing your own mat and towel as facilities here are limited – but you won’t find anywhere in Phuket with an atmosphere that matches the intimate friendliness of The Little Yoga Room.
"Hang out upside down at Yoga Connections in Chalong"
Also in Chalong, Yoga Connections Phuket offers a diverse array of classes – ideal for visitors keen to try out a few different yoga experiences while they’re on holiday. Hatha, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Power, Yin and Pilates are all on the menu, and each class caters for an array of levels from beginners to more experienced practitioners. If you’re new to yoga, a slow-moving Hatha class is likely to offer a good stretch. Alternatively, if you really want to shake things up, a session of aerial yoga during which you’re suspended upside down can also be plenty of fun.
Classes are spread throughout the day, so it’s easy to pick one that suits your holiday itinerary best. There are plenty of promotions offered for classes on a regular basis, for discount drop-ins for two people to two-week unlimited passes.
Need to know: yoga jargon
We summarise what you can expect from certain types of yoga.
Hatha: This slow-flowing practice encourages a calm mind and a big stretch. This style of yoga is well suited to beginners; although more advanced practitioners will usually be offered more challenging asanas (positions), too. Vinyasa flow: Vinyasa offers a faster-paced class during which your movements will be synchronised with your breathing. The flow between poses can often make this style of yoga appear dance-like. It’s a great workout, and fabulous for banishing toxins from the body.
Yin: Yin yoga will have you holding deep poses for much longer, with the aim of channelling the stretch deep into your muscles. Based on ancient Chinese philosophy, this practice is slow, quiet and practiced in sitting and lying down postures. Ashtanga: This is one of the more classical Indian forms of yoga, and is based on traditional teachings and yogic principles. This fast-paced form of yoga is great for a work out, and is based on a set sequence of postures and movements that will be repeated throughout the class.