Pattaya doesn’t strike as an Ashtanga Yoga mecca given its reputation. Nevertheless, you can find a lovely little shala of Ashtanga Yoga Pattaya in the compounds of Mind Resort.
A Great Teacher and Lots of Space
It is not crowded here, more laid back and homey. No competitive elements shown. Everybody is quietly going on with their own practice. Of course big thanks goes to Steve who is the teacher here. You can read more about him here. Steve is an authorised level 1 teacher and he has got a lovely approach to teaching. He makes people feel comfortable and as an Englisman, obviously he is very polite. I have always left the shala feeling balanced and happy.
The small shala has got its advantages: you are able to get more guidance than in jam-packed classes and don’t have to worry about bumping into your neighbour eg. when doing chakrasana or other far-reaching asanas. Then again, come to think of it, sometimes the energy in densely populated classes can be very inspiring and motivating.
The prices are super affordable. Where else can you get one month unlimited for 2500 baht (approx. 64 euros or 75 USD)?! This is due to the generosity of Doctor Wiwat Lunjakornkul and Khun Chantana Lunjakornkul who are sponsoring the shala. I don’t know them personally but am very grateful for their good will.
A Mixture of Locals and Visitors
Because of my inquisitive nature, I just had to make a few questions to Steve about the practice and the shala. First of all, I was curious to know if there are any differences in how Westerns and Thais practice. Second, considering that Pattaya is a prime tourist destination I was wondering if tourists flock to the shala around high season. I have been practicing here only during low season and at the moment the crowd mainly consists of people who live in Pattaya, whether it be Thais or farangs. Steve replied to me that they have a nice number of visitors eg. from the UK, Norway, the US and Japan who practice for a week or so and keep coming back annually or bi-annually.
Are There any Differences in the Practice between Thais and Farangs?
I have studied social anthropology and sociology so naturally I was interested in the differences and similarities in the practice between Thais and farangs. I bugged Steve to give me some answers to questions that I had been contemplating on. Steve pointed out that physically, it is easier for Thais to squat than us, Westerns. Makes sense, since Thais sit on floor quite often. Moreover, societal factors have a part to play: Thais work very long hours and it can be a challenge for them to find time for their practice. I completely symphatise with this because even I find it hard to find the time and I work 8-9 hours/day. Steve concluded that when it comes to age, older Thais seem to be more grounded and concentrated during their practice than the younger generation. Meditation is a big part of Buddhism and Thai culture so I’m guessing that this ability to be concentrated derives from there. In the end, Steve wanted to stress that we all are very much the same and Ashtanga practice brings the utmost benefit to all who are willing to go beyond the “occasional practice”. I think we can all agree on that.
This was my take on Ashtanga Yoga Pattaya. I can warmly recommend this place to anyone. If you want to read more about my recent practice in Thailand, perhaps you might want to view the post from Ashtanga yoga teacher training that I did on Koh Phangan.