Yoga Teaching at a Muay Thai Camp

I wanted to come back to Thailand for an extended period of time, for the experience and to grow personally, whilst still fulfilling my passion and purpose teaching Yoga. I wondered if I’d learn much more teaching here than I do full time in London.

My teaching back home is predominantly based in Yoga studios, where the students practice regularly, are fairly advanced in their knowledge of the postures and so I queue most of the class verbally, trying to inspire them with different themes and assisting the postures for them to get more out of the pose.

My main challenge is to keep them motivated and challenge them further, which means challenging my own practice, my knowledge and finding new inspiration to pass on to them each week which keeps me motivated.

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So what was going to challenge me in Thailand was going to be very different at a Muay Thai camp. As soon as I stepped into my first class I realised I would be out of my comfort zone in a completely different way.

It had been a while since I had taught complete beginners who had never stepped on a mat, where I had to introduce Yoga to people who often think it’s just stretching or know nothing about it. Then you’d have the odd intermediate level student who you needed to try to keep engaged in a different way than I normally would be able to.

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On top of that these beginners were doing 4 hours of Muay Thai a day and were trying to practice in an outside Yoga Shala with no Air conditioning in the 35 degree heat! And when we did use two fans to alleviate the heat slightly they were so loud you couldn’t hear us speak!

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Nature nor the Thai people cared you were trying to teach yoga and create an element of calm. Roosters screeching, geckos slithering and the two camp dogs running round the Shala licking peoples feet were all things you had to let go of the control over. Monks chanting outside, locals shouting across grasslands at each other, the Muay Thai Trainers booming voices in their training sessions were all actually what made this place so special and what it is today!

Three months on, this period of time has renewed and refreshed my love for teaching again in a whole new way, it’s reminded me why I wanted to teach in the first place and it couldn’t have come at a more perfect time in a period of grief. Thanks Universe!

I realised I had a responsibility to give them the tools and support to find their practice in a way that would make them want to come back to the mat and feel the change it could create in their lives.  So to have guests say they had a new found respect for Yoga, some doing it more than the Muay Thai and some leaving with a regular practice they planned to continue was more than I could have hoped for!

I was pleased I had taken my Restorative qualification before I came here as I realised another new challenge was going to be me putting that into practice. Although I love to teach Vinyasa the most and that’s where I feel comfortable, this was another big lesson in ‘it’s not about me.’

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That was not what they needed, well not more than once a week anyway, a little challenge now and again is good! That balance between making people feel like they want to come back because it was manageable, but providing a challenge to make them feel a sense of achievement was the balance needed for both their bodies and minds.

There is also a need to find or grow more self compassion and trust in yourself. Like anywhere you need to be confident in what you teach by believing in yourself and staying authentic to your style, but this can feel more prevalent as you work alongside another teacher sharing the same students. Often in these kind of travelling jobs this is common as it shares the workload, but it’s highly unlikely you will agree on everything which is all part of the practice and the journey in what you can learn from each other with grace and understanding.

Often as teachers, we know we cannot please everyone, just like in life and we try to let that go, but our ego is obviously stroked when we get positive feedback and see the same people return to our classes. The ones who don’t back home you never really have to see again or know why.

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Except here you do, as it is like one big long retreat that you are constantly part of, where people stay for as little as a week or as long as 3 months depending on their reasons and goals. So you spend meal times with your students, take them out on excursions and ultimately have to face any feedback head on that they may have or notice if they don’t come back to class.

Like being a manager again, you are on show constantly as not only a teacher but as a representative of the camp, of sorts a Tour guide, Physio, Therapist and Life Coach all rolled in to one at times. Being in this kind of environment can be intense and in a period of grief it has been challenging, but so, so rewarding and a brilliant platform for self growth too. It has enhanced the need for my own self care and what works for me the best way, to look after myself and then provide for others.

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I couldn’t recommend this experience highly enough for not only other teachers to grow professionally and personally, but also for anyone who wants an overall body and mind service from the fitness, to the yoga and temple meditation trips, to the food and quality of life out here in the remote areas of Thailand.

With a heavy heart and a little sadness I leave this special place in a week’s time.

A place I will always hold close to my heart for the experience, the astounding and varied amount of people I was lucky enough to meet and teach, but also for the space it provided me to grow through the most difficult change in my life.

For this I will be forever grateful to Battle Conquer Gym, it’s phenomenal team and the people who walk through it’s doors!

Thank you so much for having me xxxxx

Nicole Andrews