After some yoga in Koh Phangan (no full moon parties, fortunately or unfortunately) and a few days taking advantage of Anneke’s hospitality, it was time to keep moving on and head back to Koh Samui, my first stop in Thailand. This time I stayed on the opposite side of the island from where I’d previously been for Vikasa yoga, booking a small hostel in the Fisherman’s Village of Bophut Beach.

This area of Koh Samui is known for its cute avenues of shops and restaurants, and a long white sandy beach better for relaxing than swimming. With not much else to do in the area, I came specifically to take several classes at Yogarden, a quaint and cozy studio in one of the Bophut neighborhoods.

The owner of the studio coincidentally had lived in Arusha, Tanzania during the late 90’s while her husband worked at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, so Read More

Even six time zones away from tiny Rwanda in East Africa, I was able to find a piece of home in Thailand! My Dutch friend Anneke was taking a three month sabbatical from Kigali to live on the island of Koh Phangan for a yoga course and some R&R, so she kindly offered to share her cute bungalow with me.

I took the ferry from Koh Tao, hopped in the back of a tuk tuk from Koh Phangan port, and met up with Anneke at Agama Yoga. I had the best few days with her and her friends. On my first night we went for dinner at the bungalow of a couple of Italian guys who cooked spaghetti and garlic bread for a 20-person group. How Italians can turn a simple recipe into something so delicious and filling I’ll never know (and most definitely never be able to replicate). Another night we ate fish curry with our feet in the sand as a big group of friends gathered to say goodbye to a fellow yogi who had finished her course and was headed back to Europe.
During the day I joined Anneke at the yoga center, following her around on her training schedule. Four hours of yoga a day was definitely challenging! The Agama style is more detail-oriented and slower-paced than what I’m used to; holding one pose for seven minutes can be quite excruciating, especially mentally! But it was good practice for when I begin my teacher training in northern India! Read More

A Thai friend of mine recommended I go to an island called Koh Tao well-known for scuba diving and for being less well-known than its famous sisters, Koh Samui and Koh Phangan. I wasn’t planning on going there – in fact, I’d never even heard of it – but when I was told Koh Tao also had a strong yoga community, I decided to make the trek out there.

The ferry from Koh Samui takes you first to Koh Phangan (famous for the “full moon parties”), and from there it’s only an hour on the boat til you’re in Koh Tao. This may not seem daunting but on the rough waters of the Gulf of Thailand it can be a long trip; the rows of tourists heaving over the sides made me extremely grateful for my immunity to seasickness. I guess that’s what happens when your dad takes you out in Florida sea squalls at six weeks old.

Koh Tao, or “Turtle Island” in Thai, was mostly uninhabited until being used as a political prison in 1933. Prisoners’ accounts describe a hellhole of rampant typhoid, blistering heat and lack of drinking water… It’s hard to imagine Koh Tao as anything besides paradise, but I guess those conditions would make me give less than stellar reviews as well. The prisoners were pardoned in 1947 and the island was largely abandoned yet again until it was “discovered” by tourists in the 1980s. Since then it’s grown steadily in popularity but has yet to be as exploited as the neighboring islands. Read More

Yet another Muay Thai poster on Koh Samui.

Once I regained the ability to walk after several Vikasa yoga classes, I decided to catch a Muay Thai boxing match – it is Thailand’s national sport, after all! Muay Thai is often referred to as “the art of eight limbs” since fighters use elbows, shins, knees, and feet as opposed to using only two points of contact (boxing) or four (kickboxing). This is eight points of contact too many for me so I was happy to observe from the sidelines.

I went down to the Phetch Buncha stadium the day before to buy my tickets; fights are every Monday, Wednesday and Friday but in case you weren’t aware of this, there are posters plastered EVERYWHERE. Even in the most remote back road or alley, you’ll find a poster for tomorrow night’s fight. So not only do the stadiums blanket the entire island, they keep replacing them every two days. This seems a bit silly when “Yet another Muay Thai fight every MWF!” would suffice, but then a lot of poster-placing-guys would be out of work so that’s no fun.

The empty stadium before the fight – ringside seats get you up close and personal.

The stadium was a lot smaller than I expected, with sections for ringside, “VIP” (comfy cushioned seats with tables to hold your Chang beer), and the stands. On fight night the place filled to maximum capacity (plus more, crammed in the aisles and pressed against the rails). The crowd had a few foreigners but was mostly made up of sweaty screaming Thai men making bets on which fighter would be knocked unconscious first. Read More

imageWhile 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.

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imageEveryone always says to give your work/studies/personal projects 100% – what about 104%? (My apologies to all you rational mathematics hard-liners out there whose minds just exploded). And that’s just what my Kickstarter reached upon completion – 104% of funding with 53 backers!

imageI was blown away by the enthusiasm of family, friends, co-workers, fellow yogis, even strangers. If someone couldn’t offer financial support, they shared my project on Facebook, emails, Twitter, posters in local yoga studios. And that’s what means the most to me; this project is about sharing my lessons and experiences, and knowing that people are excited gives me a huge confidence boost as I finally embark on this venture.

I couldn’t have done it without my parents to house me, Kristen and Dave Henderson to star in my video, Lia to give me taglines, Ryan to donate the entire inventory of Ryan’s Tech Shop, Elizabeth/Kristen/Georgina/Kerry/Nicky to brainstorm, Josh Copher to get me through initial production writer’s block, and the countless others who helped me plan/research/flesh out the final concept. So thank you for believing in me and Global Fusion Yoga!

But now, the hard work (and fun) really begins! My first stop is Read More

imageOne of the most important aspects we learned about that weekend (aside from the academic offerings, of course) was the social scene and student life. Wharton did a great job of making sure all of us got to know each other by arranging lunches, morning coffees, afternoon drinks… By Sunday my head was spinning with names, hometowns, and faces (or maybe that was the hangover?). f

imageOn Saturday afternoon they gave us the opportunity to hang out with some of the clubs that we might be interested in joining. When I was first admitted, I was contacted by the President of the Wharton Africa Students Association (WASA); now, with a name like Mary Patton, I assumed they knew I wasn’t African, but I guess living in Rwanda for two years meant I would be interested. And I absolutely was! I went to their club party that Saturday afternoon and when I heard P Square’s “Alingo” playing before I even walked in the door, I thought, “Yup, this is definitely a group I can hang with”. Of course, you don’t have to have lived in or be from Africa to join; students interested in working on the continent post-graduation or even traveling there at some point were members. I met people from South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria… It made me really excited to get involved in the fall. And it made me miss Rwanda a lot! Read More

For the last two years I’ve been living and working in Rwanda, East Africa. While there I started teaching yoga and co-founded Yego Yoga Rwanda with my friend Allie. Our classes attracted Rwandans and people from around the world: Europeans working for the UN, Americans starting social enterprises, East Africans running regional companies. It was exciting to see how everyone’s different approaches contributed to a mixed yoga class; I was constantly learning and adapting my class to cater to the wide range of yoga styles that each individual brought to the mat.

20140217-180533.jpgMeanwhile I was applying to business schools back in the US, so teaching yoga definitely kept me sane throughout that grueling process! Now I’m preparing to start my MBA in the fall at Wharton in Philadelphia, but before school I’m working on a really cool project – which leads me to the topic of this post: my Kickstarter, Global Fusion Yoga.

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