Phuket, Thailand. Known world-wide as a party epicenter. Girls, booze, drugs… It’s all here. Yoga? Perhaps not. We however experienced Phuket in the glorious day time with glorious Govert. Who is this man? The owner and celebrity teacher of his own Bikram yoga studio. After a few days on Phuket, you can’t miss seeing him. Govert stars in all of his own advertising around the island and on his website. This gorgeous man from Holland entices unsuspecting visitors to his studio by being a shining example of maximum fitness, plastered everywhere. If you don’t think about actually trying hot yoga the first time you see his posters, you may after the third or fourth. His pristine physical form was enough to make Ross think twice about walking out of the 90 min. class. If one of the premier benefits of enduring all 26 postures is that eventually you leave the room looking like Sir Govert then it’s worth sticking around.
We decided to stay on Kata beach solely because we wanted to create our own yoga retreat in Thailand, thus avoiding the exorbitant prices of some of the all-inclusive retreats readily available dotted around Thailand’s idyllic beaches. Upon research galore we settled on spending a full week hammering out as many hot yoga classes as possible at Govert’s Bikram hot yoga studio at Kata Beach. Ross was interested even though he had never actually practiced Bikram yoga before. Bikram yoga being the branded version of hot yoga based out of L.A, California. Teachers can only be certified under the direct guidance of Bikram himself for a whopping 10,000 plus dollars. The training is grueling and creates teachers who can recite the script like a German drill sergeant. Bikram teachers are a bold breed, I’ll give them one thing, they are inspiring. No one wants to sneak in a water break or lazily sit down on the mat for fear of being called out by the teacher. I’ve seen it done many times. That shouldn’t be a deterrent though from practicing. The “high” in shavassana after a good hot yoga class is like no other, and each class is a different experience. Anyway, back to Phuket and Govert’s studio.
We strolled in thinking there was a travelers 7 day unlimited pass, I must have got confused with another studio’s special. Govert was at the desk to greet us and he was not into negotiating. No special deals were given after a few attempts at bargaining. A sign of business integrity. We purchased a 10 class pass which he allowed us to share (special treatment) for 3850 Thai baht or 122 USD. Not terribly expensive considering the prices I’ve seen elsewhere. So we did it. It was fantastic. There were a number of guest teachers coming through (a gorgeous Spaniard and a sweet young American girl) so it wasn’t too monotonous. The best part, by far, was ending with the coconuts. Ohhhh mannnn. Nothing beats it. A giant, fresh, cold coconut at the end of a hot yoga class is paradise. Sitting around the lounge with a bunch of sweaty strangers it’s becomes quickly evident, they are not in fact strangers but many of them come every day. A few are even trying out the ludicrous 30 day challenge.
The discussions among them are inspiring. Recounting the experiences of the class. There was a huge sense of community sitting there. A bunch of yoga students discussing their differing experiences in camel pose with a giant coconut cupped in their hands. Recounting the back bend at the end that promises to make you feel something whether its nausea or deep seeded emotion. Forget late nights, pina coladas and margaritas. Hot yoga, coconuts, an exceptional yoga class with Govert combined with a bunch of sweaty soon to be yoga pals is the best way to live it up and party in Phuket.