As I sit hear listening to the music of the insects and birds outside, I’m sad that my time at Omsara Yoga has come to an end. A week has already passed. It’s bizarre how fast the time has flown by and all that has been accomplished in a week.
When I first arrived to Omsara Yoga, I was on my own as my friend Miranda would not be joining me for another 3 days. This was the first long flight that I have done solo. I was feeling incredibly anxious and uncomfortable about it. Part of me dislikes airplanes because of the fact that you are out of control. You need to trust someone else. I’m so glad I was able to get out of my comfort zone and fly to Thailand on my own. Along the way, I met fellow travelers as I made my journey from Chicago to Chiang Rai. One such person was a girl named Lina from France who was relocating from Korea to Chiang Mai for work. We exchanged stories and phone numbers as we were both trying to keep each other awake at 5 am in the airport of Bangkok.
Before Miranda arrived, I didn’t think 2 yoga classes a day would suffice. Boy was I wrong. 2 ½ hours a day have been quite sufficient. My first yoga class on my own was a bit rough as I hadn’t been practicing it lately and was incredibly stiff from my flights. I could hardly get into downward dog because my hamstrings were so tight. My balance was not the best either. As the days went by Pook, my yoga instructor, kept reminding me that there’s no need to rush into poses as they will come with time. She was right. Pook knew when to challenge Miranda and me. This petite Thai woman who weighs less than 100 pounds and is not even 5 feet tall, would tell us periodically during our classes that she would kick our asses. That’s for sure. I’m glad that she continued to increase the difficulty of the classes. Slowly, I’m gaining confidence in my abilities. I can feel my arms and stomach getting stronger. My downward dog is getting higher. I’m starting to touch my feet to the floor ever so slightly when doing Halasana. Holding plank pose for longer periods of time is getting easier and I am balancing during half lotus pose while standing. Little by little.
Miranda and I were talking about when we leave Omsara Yoga that it will be important to continue to practice our poses every day to keep making gains and growing. Pook told us it’s better to do a little each day then 1 or 2 classes for an hour each week as this is how you build endurance and strength. According to her partner Ulf, it takes 21 days for the body to get into a routine. Bring on the next 14.
One of the highlights of being in Chiang Rai is living with Pook and Ulf. They have given an inside look into what life in Thailand is like. While here, Miranda and I have gottento watch Pook cook. I never thought I would eat vegan food for an extended period of time. As Pook is an exceptional cook, I’m not afraid to admit I was wrong. The meals are so colorful and bright. Having only 2 meals a day has been quite enough as well. Miranda and I can’t finish most of our meals on our own. I can’t get over how genuine, welcoming, and kind Pook and Ulf have been to us.
Yesterday Miranda and I finished our meditation course with Ulf. He taught us more about Tibetan Buddhism. We were introduced to mediating using a mantra while counting the beads on a mala. Something that Ulf told us that stuck out to me was that life changes all around us constantly. What he has learned from meditation is the one thing that doesn’t change is our inner joy. As difficult as life gets, no one can take our joy away or our ability to view the world as beautiful. I have heard the phrase the only constant in life is change but I like his outlook better. That there is a constant aside from change and that is our joy. We need to celebrate more of what we are grateful for and have because there are so many treasures that exist in our day-to-day lives if we just open our eyes.
For our last day in Chiang Rai, Miranda and I rented bikes at Singha Park. It is so beautiful there with tea plantations surrounding us. Riding our bikes through these narrow secret paths made me feel more alive and free than I have felt in years. I’m really sad to be leaving Chiang Rai but excited for what adventures come our way as we continue to explore the many regions that Thailand has to offer. Pook and Ulf have taught Miranda and I many invaluable lessons. I will make sure to carry those with me as I continue my journey through Thailand and beyond.