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Teaching Yoga in Thailand

Christiana Lang, 126

As a secondary project, I created Banhoy Project Yoga to promote healthy living and create a space for families to come and share in yoga practice.  Phase One of BPY began at the local government office where I taught two classes per week.  Attendance was great and enthusiasm high for the first few months then slowly deteriorated as rainy season came.  Phase Two called “Ten Villages English and Yoga Project” began in January.  In Phase 2, I taught at one of the 10 villages per month, once per week (4 times/month/village).  Each village headman chose the month and time that fit their area’s schedule best.  That way, those who were not able to travel to the local government office would have access to English and Yoga classes.  Phase Three of BPY is a small Yoga Teacher Training that will be given to 5-10 local Thai people.  With the help of my main counterpart Pi Yai, we will use a Thai and English Yoga manual that we created in both English and Thai (YES, I will totally share the manual with you!) to help relay the basics of teaching and keep the project sustainable.  

 

Teaching yoga in Thailand is different from teaching yoga in America. Completely.

 

Here are some examples of my observations:

-People can simultaneously hold tree pose and balance a cell phone from shoulder to ear

-“Happy Baby” is actually a secondary action to the body-shaking laughter that ensues from every person in the class and around the area

-Animal visitors are frequent including dogs, cats, cockroaches, red ants, (pet) rabbits, snakes and roosters

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-I have yet to see ego in any pose from any person

-During meditation, there will be at least 30 small gnats surrounding ears, nose and face

-Full conversations are fully allowed and accepted between yogis during class

-Thai people can rock Malasana (squat pose) like freaking champions

-The children are more focused than the adults and always fill up the front row

-Yoga attire can be blue jeans, work suits, dresses, traditional Thai skirts or full body 80’s spandex suits

Lays chips or sodas sit beside yoga mats instead of SIGG water bottles full of coconut water

-The groundskeeper might decide the best time to use the lawnmower and weed-eater is during yoga class time

-A traveling store-on-a-motorcycle filled with brooms and vegetables may find that during yoga class is an appropriate time to shout advertisements ending in “Jaaaaah

-Yogis may stop mid-class, purchase items from that traveling store-on-a-motorcycle, then join back in the class

 

If you decide to practice yoga anywhere other than the comfort of your home, I guarantee that others will want to join you.  Thai people love to have fun- their translation of practicing yoga, “len yoka”,  literally means: play yoga.

This thought reminds me that all life, including yoga, is play, and to not take it so seriously.  From my Thai yogis, I have learned to make jokes during class, fall over for fun, be willing to stop in the middle of class for ice cream, create new yoga pose names, and re-relate to the beauty of what yoga is by seeing this:

 

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