If you’re already a hard-core yoga fan, a yoga retreat will probably sound like the perfect vacation. But what if you’ve never tried yoga? Or you’ve tried it, but just can’t commit to regular practice? Maybe you feel too out of place among super-fit, super-flexible yogis, or can’t get into a healthy eating groove to support the exercise?
Would you still enjoy holidaying at a yoga retreat?
The Samahita Retreat in Koh Samui, Thailand was my very first yoga retreat. I wouldn’t call myself a fitness fanatic, but I love beautiful beaches and I try to be healthy. That’s pretty much all you need to feel right at home at Samahita.
It seemed like every guest I spoke to had a different reason for choosing to spend their vacation at Samahita. Some were newbies like me, wanting to give yoga a serious try, others were moral support for friends or family involved in yoga classes, and others were gaining certification as yoga teachers.
Here’s just a few reasons you might want to stay at Samahita Retreat:
- You love yoga and the healthy, mindful lifestyle that comes with it. A vacation without yoga is no vacation for you.
- You’re a newbie who’s never tried yoga before but wants to. What better way to learn than with passionate, skilful teachers and an atmosphere that will support you every step of the way.
- People you know who do yoga always seem happier, healthier and more at peace. You want to experience more than just an exercise class. Maybe you want to understand the philosophy and get a feel for what your life could be like if you built yoga into your daily routine and lifestyle.
- You like to get around in activewear and flip flops. No need to pack your high heels and fancy frock here. Swimwear and a few sets of yoga outfits are all you’ll need. I say a few because chances are you’ll get super sweaty.
- You want a vacation where you can really relax and unwind. Develop a peaceful mind, take in a serene atmosphere, and forget your troubles.
- You’re sick of coming home with extra holiday kilos and feeling guilty for eating bad food and doing zero exercise. You want to build healthy eating and sustainable exercise into your time away from home. You want a holiday with balance.
- You’re accompanying family or friends who love or want to try yoga. Samahita has family and friends’ prices if you don’t want to do any classes. You can still enjoy the healthy food and beautiful beachfront resort facilities.
- You want to become a qualified yoga teacher or simply up your skills with teacher training. A teacher training course was underway while I was there. It looked intense!
- You need a little help getting through a detox or loosing those stubborn pounds. Samahita Retreat offers specialised weight loss and detox programs so you’ll go home feeling like a new you.
If you fit into one of the newbie categories, maybe I’ve forgotten to address one fundamental question…
What’s a yoga retreat?
That’s what I was wondering when my wife asked to go to Samahita Retreat for her birthday.
I was very pleased to discover that a yoga retreat does not mean you have do yoga classes all day, every day. It’s more of a well-rounded wellness experience to restore your body and mind through healthy food, meditation techniques, yoga practice, and fitness classes. Add to that a dose of beautiful Thailand beach views, and it’s a winning combo!
Samahita’s wellness philosophy is carried into everything they do. The shower products are organic and eco-friendly, the dining area encourages recycling, the swimming pool is salt water (not chlorine), stray dogs who fancy themselves at home on resort are taken for vaccinations and fed regularly, meal plans are well thought through from serving times to dietary requirements of all guests.
Nothing happens by accident here.
A day at Samahita Resort
Here’s what an average day at Samahita Retreat could look like… If you want it to. All classes are completely optional, you can do as many or as few as you feel like.
6.30am: Walk from your private room to the common area to enjoy a piece of fruit, tea and coffee while watching the sunrise over the ocean. It’s quiet time until 10am, so just relax and listen to the peaceful ocean.
7.00am Get your blood pumping with silent sunrise cycle. The cycle room overlooks the ocean through broad windows, so if you’re lucky, you might catch the last of those stunning sunrise colours.
7.30am: Start the day right with breathing and meditation. I found this was the perfect class to start the morning. It is not at all strenuous but focuses on relaxing and breathing techniques. Who needs meditation CDs/MP3s when you can hear the real-life waves gently breaking on the shore metres away.
Tip: Most people bring their own yoga mats. But if you don’t have one you can buy one from Samahita’s shop or borrow a recycled mat (for free) from reception.
8.30am: Get your first taste of yoga with a vinyasa class. The teachers are very skilled and helpful, offering options for different capability levels, so you never feel pressured.
10.00am: You have worked up an appetite, so hit the breakfast buffet! Help yourself to fruit, muesli, yoghurt, multigrain toast, and gluten-free toast. There’s also a hot breakfast station where you can order your favourite style of eggs. Absolutely delish!
Quiet time is over now so feel free to chat. The dining room is set up as a communal area so you can’t help but make friends with whomever is at your table.
10.30am: Reward yourself for your morning practice with some relaxation time. Perhaps swim in the saltwater pool, sunbathe on the beach, read a book in the quiet zone, or go for a meandering walk along the quiet beach.
12.30pm: Put a dent in the lunch buffet before it closes at 1pm. Lunch foods are usually vegetarian Thai dishes and are always healthy and delicious. All food here is buffet style so help yourself, but also pack up after yourself. A concept I really like, as it encourages responsibility and mindfulness.
1.00pm: Try one of the many activities on offer at the resort. Hire a kayak and head out for a paddle, or book in a massage or health coaching session.
Tip: Group outings are scheduled on some days, such as a boat trip to a nearby island for snorkelling, or a group walk along the beach to a nearby temple. Check with an instructor or front desk staff what is coming up during your visit.
4.00pm: Try a group fitness class. Samahita’s “core” class is intense. This is no time for mindful, serene yoga. Be prepared to work up a sweat.
4.30pm: Continue training with a “spin” class. The cycling teachers here might look calm and peaceful but they will still work you out!
5.00pm: Cool down with restorative yoga. This was probably my favourite class. It was a nice combination of mediation and stretching. Just make sure to wear mosquito spray as the mossies enjoy the sunset too.
6.00pm: Head to the herbal steam room to give your muscles a little love.
6.30pm: Make a bee-line to the dinner buffet for more super healthy, super tasty Thai food. And make some new friends over dinner.
7.30pm: Finish the day with a relaxing breathwork and meditation class.
8.30pm: Catch those zzzz’s. Maybe it’s the sea breeze or maybe it’s all the training but early nights and early mornings are all the rage here. I needed that well-deserved rest.
We stayed in a very spacious two-bedroom loft with a balcony. One bed is downstairs and one in an upstairs loft. This would be perfect for friends and families wanting to split a room.
The Bottom Line
If you haven’t considered a yoga retreat because you haven’t tried yoga, or just aren’t that great at it, think again. Samahita Retreat offers an opportunity to try out a holistic wellness lifestyle with healthy eating, plenty of yoga and fitness classes, and best of all… someone else has done all the hard work.
Well, almost all of the hard work! ;-)