Vikasa

Posted on December 7, 2018

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I came back to London for just five days. It’s the quickest layover I’ve had in two years since I started travelling. There was no time to see anyone without tying myself into knots. I was glued to my computer screen editing my submarine film from Honduras for half the day and sweating out my frustration in my yoga studio for the other half of the day.

With my story finished and handed over to BBC World, I boarded my flight to Asia a lot happier and stress free. Some cash, at some point, will be coming my way. It felt good to sell a story; it’s been two years since I reported on anything.

I’m now in Thailand. The last time I visited Koh Samui was September 2012. It was a celebratory holiday especially as I’d just completed my masters in Primatology. This time around it’s been a stop gap before starting my next working dive internship on Koh Tao.

Vikasa is a Sanskrit word which means development or progress. Fitting then, that this is the name of the yoga retreat I found myself booking into for three days. Classes run from 7am until 9pm. They include beginner classes, flow, yin and meditation. The early morning “complete class” is a two hour full body workout and is intense.

The studio is a huge open space facing out onto the ocean and cut into a cliff face with a dramatic drop off. Light pours in as does sound. On heavy downpour days yogi instruction is drowned out by the thunderous and relentless slashing of the rain. It’s quite beautiful.

While at Vikasa I met a very sweet, very young, Ukrainian air stewardess who lives in Abu Dhabi. She found the retreat by accident and I suppose we found each other the same way. My first afternoon I arrived I placed my mat next to hers for one class and the next day she waved at me to come lie beside her again.

New to yoga, she’s trying to de-clutter her life and mind, like so many people I meet on the road. Yoga is not a panacea for life’s problems. But it can guide you to find mental space to process stuff. Giving yourself 90mins for just you, without outside thoughts and worries, it’s amazing how differently you look at and focus on what’s important. For me it lifts my spirits on the darkest of days and makes me feel grounded and strong and ready to face my challenges.

My new friend was in a mentally abusive relationship with a very wealthy, older man, who she has finally managed to get away from, despite the threats and bullying. She’s 27 and he’s over 40. Like all control twats he couldn’t pick on someone his own age because they wouldn’t stand for it. She says she was blinded by the good life he showed her and mistook that for kindness. After a few days of us sharing meals together and her asking for my opinion on so many things (she asks a lot of questions) we swapped numbers. I squeezed her tight, said goodbye and wished her luck. I hope she finds her way.

I exited the island on a very early ferry to Koh Tao for my new placement. Typically air conditioning pumping out air so cold you are dressed for winter rather than a humid tropical climate. I pulled my hoodie over my head, shut my eyes and tried to get some sleep. Once more filled with nerves, excitement and curiosity about what the next six weeks will hold for me.

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