Cambodia Emerges As A World Yoga Destination
Many parts of Asia have long been a yoga destination for travelers seeking to deepen their practice or pick it up for the first time. While India, Bali and Thailand have traditionally been the most visited countries for yoga enthusiasts, Cambodia has recently begun to emerge as a country with a host of options for yoga travelers seeking something deeper than the “yoga-lite” which has taken hold in the resort culture.
The Khmer Times recently wrote about the emergence of yoga in Cambodia as an opportunity to teach deeper awareness of individual travelers and an economic opportunity. Tourism officials see the arrival of yoga in Cambodia as an opportunity worth seizing. After 1,000 participants in Siem Reap did sun salutations for World Yoga Day, the government now plans to promote Cambodia as a yoga destination.
While Siem Reap is the epicenter of the movement (and one of Cambodia’s most visited locales), The Vagabond Temple arrived on the yoga scene in 2013 and offers yoga retreats in the coastal town of Sihanoukville, Cambodia.
Ryan Monroe is a Canadian surfer who spent a month at the Vagabond Temple. “The best part about doing my retreat here,” he said, “is that it’s a two-minute walk from the beach.”
“In the West yoga has been absorbed into the rat race culture. It’s become competitive and ego oriented,” says Kobi, co-founder of the Vagabond Temple. For many Westerners yoga connotes fitness and health. But the Vagabond Temple teaches yoga as a means to raising consciousness and imbuing inner harmony — ideas this ancient practice was originally developed to foster. Kobi and his wife Pazit received their training in India and other places across Asia and their own spiritual journey has led to the founding of the Vagabond Temple as a destination for other travelers on the spiritual path.
The Vagabond Temple offers week-long and month-long retreats that include yoga, meditation, health and Dharma talks. These retreats occur in the context of community, where participants are encouraged to use yoga to explore the cobwebbed corners of their consciousness. People come to retreats at The Vagabond Temple for different reasons, but everyone leaves more comfortable in their own skin.
The rise of yoga in Cambodia is indicative of its resurgence in the world. As more travelers seek out yoga in its birthplace of Asia, many yogis hope that in addition to creating healthier people, it will create more compassionate self-aware individuals who will create a more harmonious world.
With the West still racing through increasing layers of modern complexity, yoga offers an introspective look inside and gives a more genuine view of the world unfolding outside. Whatever it leads to on the larger scale, in the present it has many travelers in Cambodia starting their days with Namaste.
Luke Maguire Armstrong is the author of the intrepid travel collection The Nomad’s Nomad. When he’s not traveling or getting mauled by rodents in the jungle, he spends his time being rejected by girls in bars in Antigua, Guatemala. He broke his left ankle river dancing and his right ankle trying to impress the locals in Belize. Give Luke a guitar; he’ll sing you a song. Hand him a whiskey; he’ll tell you a tale. Give him both, and he’ll give you something to drink about.