My First Stop : Vikasa Yoga on Koh Samui, Thailand
While researching my first location to feature for Global Fusion Yoga, I read a lot about this new style of yoga which only recently emerged on the island of Koh Samui in southern Thailand. ‘A local style found only on this island? What a perfect way to kick off Global Fusion Yoga’, I thought. Little did I know that my five month journey would begin with some of the toughest yoga I’d ever done.
After my first class with Kosta, the Russian yogi who created the Vikasa style, I was fully convinced he was a de-boned Cirque du Soleil runaway injected with Herculean steroids at a young age. How could someone be the most flexible AND strongest person I’d ever seen do yoga? I was too exhausted from sweating out half my body weight to dwell on it anymore that night.
As it turns out, Kosta came to Koh Samui as a professional Muay Thai fighter but grew tired of competing and winning incessantly (have you ever been so good at something that you get bored of it? Me neither). That’s when he turned to yoga, and decided to become the best at that, too. Greedy.
His classes were constantly packed with Vikasa devotees twisting themselves into multiple pretzels and floating weightlessly into handstands (no “kicking up” into handstands, I’m talking serious upper body strength). Throughout the class Kosta would demonstrate pose variations (in thick Russian accent): “Ok so, beginner, you stay wiz zis. Advanced, kicking up onto only zee forearm. Actually no, zat is intermediate; advanced, full scorpion pose, one hand and toes touch zee forehead”. Even his most devoted disciples would laugh at the absurdity of attempting these moves with the poise and fluidity that only a Russian ex-Muay Thai fighter could possess. (seriously, cue the laughter and muffled ‘Are you serious’s around the room during his “intermediate” demonstrations).
But for all his acrobatic prowess and enamored yogi followers, Kosta was in fact a very kind and encouraging yogi. I’ve taken classes from many a teacher whose skill in yoga is surpassed only by their knowledge of how skilled they are in yoga, which is really obnoxious. So it was a relief that this guy genuinely wanted to help me work towards poses I’d never even seen before; maybe because deep down he knows I’ll never achieve scorpion quite like he can. Sigh.My first yoga class video is based on the Vikasa style of yoga, so stay tuned for the release! And don’t worry, I won’t include scorpion pose.