Yoga Classes in Cambodia

Hey, everyone! Curious about how yoga classes are like in Cambodia? Well, it involves dodging mosquitos and ants. Humid weather, riding tuk-tuks and motorscooters.

I was fortunate enough to be able to try a few classes during my month-long stay. I got to try a "flying yoga" session, which involved aerial silk hammocks. It was amazing to hang upside down in poses that normally required using body weight to keep ourselves up! My lower back and hips were so happy to be suspended in air. Plus, it's fun to feel like you're in Cirque du Soleil when you know you won't ever make the team (haha).

The Knoff Yoga class had a lot of Iyengar-influenced instruction. In between postures, we would "reset" our bodies to restart the pose. It was nice to do that, to keep the mind aware and the body re-engaged like it's the first time. The advanced Vinyasa flow session was great, because we were introduced to poses like "Flying Monkey" (and showed me just how weak my lower back is at the moment!).

Is Yoga accessible in Cambodia? Is it affordable by the majority of locals? Well, a yoga class in Phnom Penh, Cambodia is about $8/class. The studios are mainly owned by expats. To give you a sense of how much that costs relative to the economy, it costs $3 to feed a person. $3 to get a full meal. So, to pay for a yoga class, you could feed 3 people. So, yoga classes at many of the studios are not so accessible by the majority, but the minority who are middle- and upper-class. The average number of students I saw at each class was 4. The exception was the Flying Yoga which had 7 students. All the students were ex-pats. I didn't see any Khmer people at all. 

To give you a sense of how much that costs relative to the economy, it costs $3 to feed a person. $3 to get a full meal. So, to pay for a yoga class, you could feed 3 people.

Alison, the co-owner, was great and light-hearted with her instruction. She was from the UK with a punk rock hairdo and bright pink highlights. I was glad to have met her before she sold the studio to someone else. She said it was getting to be difficult to run a business in Phnom Penh. In May, she will have left the country to explore the world with her boyfriend. 

In Sihanoukville, Cambodia I found an outdoor, yet covered studio with 2 hour classes for $11. That's $5.5/per hour to practice yoga. Much more affordable, but the only students taking the class with me were travelers and ex-pats. No locals. 

What did these yoga studio owners have in common? They did come from a school in India where they studied for a long time. They were similar to classes in SF and LA. 

In Sihanoukville, the owner was named Greg. He was a much older man from Italy. Dark-skinned with a really long beard and very bohemian clothing. His classes were much slower paced. There was a lot of breathwork. A lot of savasanas. Not just one at the end. He paid a lot of attention to detail, adjusted us when necessary, and gave advanced options when he could see our bodies wanted more of a stretch.

I mentioned at the beginning of this post about dodging ants. Yeah. There were tons of ants since this yoga shala was in the middle of a jungle setting. There was no avoiding them while in savasana, so that part was a bit distracting. 

After taking the class, I realized there was a bit of Iyengar influence (with the alignment focus) and Ashtanga focus (taking 5 deep breaths). When I brought that up with Greg, he said "no, it's Greg style".

Greg studied the foundation of yoga for a long enough time that his personal style and preference shifted, which led him to create his own variation and style.

It made me realize that many of the great yoga teachers had studied foundational systems for a long time before they moved on to make a remix of these systems.

It made me realize that many of the great yoga teachers had studied foundational systems for a long time before they moved on to make a remix of these systems.

It was at this point that I realized how I myself am gravitating towards shifting my personal practice to encompass a lot more work on connective tissues and ligaments instead of just my muscles. I wouldn't call myself a "great yoga teacher", though. Just a student sharing with others what I'm doing on my mat. 

I was able to do a guided jungle meditation outside Ta Prohm Temple in Siem Reap. This is the temple with tons of massive trees overtaking the structures. Goes to show that you cannot fuck with mother nature. She rules all. 

Watch the meditation below. Listen to the cameos by all the cicadas and jungle wildlife around us!

Practice a Guided Meditation outside Ta Prohm Temple in Siem Reap, Cambodia Welcome to the Rogue Yogi Life!

Today, we're doing a jungle-themed guided meditation. Listen to the sounds of the jungle.

Winding Down 2016, Ramping Up to 2017

What up, Rogue Yogis. The time is here. We begin to wrap up 2016 and ramp up to 2017. For some of us, it's kind of hard to do. For some of our Rogue Yogis (including me) there's just been so much shit happening the past few weeks. For some of us, there was so much shit happening the entire year. This blog post is to share with you what's been changed up in our world, provide tips on making it through the holidays (if this season tends to feel lonely), and share updates on what's going to be added in our private FB group for 2017.

It's been real challenging, because we lost 2 people within a 2 week time span. One to suicide and the other to the Oakland Ghostship Fire. Suicide is a tough subject...I can only guess that this person was suffering so much physically that he really couldn't take it anymore. But, when life is taken unexpectedly from people, that also brings sadness. This Ghostship tragedy took away such creative and passionate people. It really brought to light the plight of the artist. As someone that had to resort to living in a really tiny basement annex in order to even get footing in SF, it hits home to see how many creative have to resort to living in less than ideal conditions in order to thrive. Except in a few cases, art just isn't rewarded financially as much as tech.

With all these things happening, the Mongorrian and I were thinking we'd be in Spain by now. But, we're not, and it wasn't initially by our choice. So, we're changing a lot of plans now. A lot of transition is about to happen for us:

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On January 31st, 2017, we're going to Vietnam instead. It was a feeling deep in my heart that we should be there sooner than later, but thought we'd have to put off because of Barcelona. When the Spanish Consulate rejected our application, asked for more information, and stopped responding to our questions and request for another appointment, I took the opportunity to suggest Vietnam. With just a few messages to my cousin, we already had a place to stay with a big family eager to meet the love of my life. We'll be with family for a month, scouting out beautiful locations on the coast for the location(s) of my Spring 2018 Rogue Yogi RE:Treat. We'll be paying homage to my dad, relatives and grandparents. Lots of delicious exotic food will be consumed, and if you subscribe to my Periscope you'll get to see them all.

In March, we'll hit up Cambodia the entire month to meet the hubby's family. THEN, after that we'll hit up Spain for 3 months. Not a year as we had planned, but 3 months. During this time is my Spring 2017 Rogue Yogi RE:Treat in Granada, Spain. What's really great is that we can be able to travel and share this experience while doing what we love. I feel really grateful for this! We also have 5 out of 10 spots filled. Grab one of the last 5 here!

At that point, we don't know where we'll be going. UPDATE: We will hit up France, Germany, Italy, then Mexico in October when we end up in Tulum for my Fall 2017 Rogue Yogi RE:Treat. After that, we will be in Mysore, India for 3 months before my Spring 2018 Rogue Yogi RE:Treat in Vietnam. I will be studying Ashtanga Yoga with Sharath Jois, the grandson of K. Sri Pattabhi Jois (the creator of Ashtanga Yoga). As much as I am about sharing yoga for the urban lifestyle, I'm also about learning about its historical roots and understanding the tradition that yoga came from.

This is not to brag, not to impress you guys, but to share where we're at. And, this next step is a lot to absorb. But, the fact that we're doing this together...let's just say I probably wouldn't be doing this by myself, that's for certain!

Every country we go to, I'll be hitting up a Mysore Ashtanga place, a general Ashtanga or Iyengar yoga studio or some kind of place where I can learn yoga from a good instructor and also practice on my own. That was the non-negotiable part about this journey. It took me awhile to let go of attachment to teaching yoga physically in each country. Once I realized that my number 1 priority is to be a yoga student, the burden just floated off of my shoulders. That isn't to say that I will not be making online yoga sessions. In fact, I will be broadcasting my personal practice as much as I can on Periscope, FB Live, proper classes on YouTube and Teachable. This Rogue Yogi is literally going Rogue. Let's hope I find a good traveling yoga mat that I can lug with my yoga wheel!

(Join the exclusive group and get this content that I'm releasing to the members)

Note: If any one is reading this blog, lives in another country, is connected with a studio owner or an underground music venue, and knows any local ambient/downtempo/deep house DJs, I would love to continue my Rogue Yogi yoga pop-up sessions. The chances of this happening are unknown, but I am putting it out there to make this dream come true.

Side Note: I'm doing my best within the limitations and glitchy inconsistencies that Facebook has. It hasn't been easy trying to broadcast the way I want without FB malfunctioning. So, if the yoga sessions are not happening that well in our private FB group, I'll record the session and load it there and/or YouTube.

So....that's where we're at.

All I can do is be at peace with all these struggles and challenges. It's kind of sad, but a true reality that when you lose someone, you get a wake up call, and some people.. their perspective of life changes. Some things that were a big deal just aren't anymore, and priorities shift to others that used to sit on the back burner.

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[Tweet ""The struggle ends when gratitude begins." --Neale Donald Walsch"]

Struggles don't end forever, it's just for that moment, I am aware of what I do have at the moment, I'm alive, I can breathe, I can practice yoga, I can mentally practice meditation. In that moment, there is no struggle. It's this sense of "wow, I have something very good", and maybe it'll last for 15 seconds, 1 minute, maybe 1 hour. But, for that moment, there isn't really a struggle. It's a practice.

For those of you that may feel like the holidays are rough, lonely, or shitty, it may be difficult or easy advice to say, you can take a look at what you do have.. if you can find some outings with some friends, or have pets, find something that you can look forward to, no matter how small or big it is.. to help you get through the holidays. Because I know what it's like to go through several winters that were lonely and less than idea, and it can be better than that if you shift your perspective for just that moment.

Ramping up to the new year, I won't ask you to make new years resolutions, new promises, new majestic goals all of a sudden.

I WILL tell you to take a look at the past year, look at the lessons you learned, what realizations did you make, what appreciation do you now have or forgot to have...and from those lessons you can apply them into the new year. It's more of a gentle shift, to take it one degree differently, instead of all of a sudden doing all this different routine.

I would say, make a gentle shift. If you need someone to talk to, if you want to share something that inspired you, share it in the group. That's what the FB group is for. You're welcome to share inspiration, meditations and...I actually do encourage you to share your progress in yoga. It's not to show off, but to hold yourself accountable in sticking to your practice.

In the Lounge, I'll be sharing a yoga pose of the week, a meditation of the week and more music, (especially my curated playlists so you can play it in Spotify at your own leisure)

Just more connectedness is what I intend for our members in 2017.

Take on the holidays, the shift and the direction you'd like to move your life to...what's that next small step for you?

With Love,

Julie Tran (Your Local Rogue Yogi)

Track of the Moment: Always Like This (Andhim Remix) - HVOB