GPS waypoint: 13°21'16.9"N 103°51'19.7"E Venue: Ahimsa Yoga Academy Location: Hospital Street, between Old Market and Pub Street, Siem Reap, Cambodia
No-Go in Vietnam I could have gone to India after Thailand, but there was a hanging opportunity to be an in-house yoga teacher for a luxury resort in Da Nang, Vietnam. I enjoyed my last stay in Da Nang and even considered staying there for a length of time. Perhaps this was my chance. I had to leave Thailand already because of visa expiration but didn't want to be too far from Vietnam just in case - so I took to the nearest border into Cambodia, with Siem Reap as the most immediate destination. I had been to Siem Reap a few times already, but it's always good to be here.
Hotel Yoga Teacher I wanted to deepen my yoga practice while I was in Siem Reap. I thought about applying as yoga teacher to some of the resorts and hotels during my stay in exchange for a place to stay, food in my tummy and a little money - something similar to what the Da Nang prospect would have been like. I wrote a few proposals but it seems there isn't a high demand for yoga in these places. Occupancy is also low because of the low season.
Ahimsa Yoga Academy While walking around the Pub Street area, I saw a yoga sign, Ahimsa Yoga Academy, and went up. The studio is on the roof with an open deck offering a nice view of the busy Pub Street street. It's also hot inside when the sun is up. I met the 2 people who run it - Thomas and Andras. They didn't need a teacher but needed someone who can put the word out. I had been a regular student at their studio since, meeting the passing yogi travelers who also wanted to keep connected to their practice.
Thomas Ogram Most yoga teachers simply conduct a yoga class and the students come and go, usually unmindful of who teaches - as long as they get their yoga practice. In this studio, Thomas Ogram, the lone teacher, becomes as prominent as the yoga he teaches. He has been practising yoga for over 40 years. Because there is usually a tea-time before the practice, he talks at length about yoga, his life and his own take on the world-at-large. He can be animated, entertaining, serious, funny and irreverent all at the same time. It's more of a monologue at his studio - he talks, you listen. He has answers to any question and can talk indefinitely about it. To put it in perspective, he is the guru-type. I had been a student of another guru-type while I was in Cebu, Philippines - Vaibhav Rana. I see their similarities - but they are very different.
Asana Thomas has the beginner class at 5:30pm which I join, but sensing I want something more intense, he held a 4:30pm class for us three, including Andras. His sequence could be a breath-hold or a series of kriyas, often combining established poses but with a few modifications. For example, on plank, we would press against our fingers but not on the heels of the hand. We would then lower down our chest while keeping our arms and legs stretched-out, then lifting up the chest, and repeating it like a push-up. I could imagine it's good for the rotator cuffs. We would repeat or hold the poses for 10 breaths which leaves us fatigued.
Ending Thoughts I would try some of the things I'm learning from Thomas even after I leave Siem Reap, and experience the difference they make on my practice. With 2 more weeks left before my visa expires, I would like to try other studios with other teachers and experience a broader horizon on my yoga spectrum.
Andras Ribanszki (Jun 2, 2016) Hi hope you're well! This is Andras we've met in Siem Reap in Thomas' yoga studio. You mentioned to me that you might come to Dharamsala India to do yoga. I'm studying and volunteering in the Himalayan Iyengar Yoga Centre and it's amazing. If you come here definitely drop by you will love it, it's a really authentic and unique yoga school. Just wanted to let you know! Drop me a message if you're around. Wish you all the best and safe travels!
(Mar 28, 2016) Legend has it that the Tibetan 5 Rites (5 yogic kriyas) is a fountain of youth. It was supposedly taught to a British army colonel by Buddhist yogis when he explored the Himalayan mountain range in the 1930s. I came upon this story back in 2004 and even practised it for a few days. Now, it has timely resurfaced as I am engaged in the yoga of a teacher here in Siem Reap. I believe it's a good integration in a typical one-hour yoga class as it can fuse seamlessly into other established asanas....more »»