lifestyle, travel, yoga

5 Reasons Why I Did My Yoga Teacher Training in Asia and Why You Should Too

I did my first Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) course in Doi Saket, Thailand over 4 years ago after 9 years of practicing yoga. Then after teaching for 2 years, I did my second YTT in India.

I’ve also attended a few retreats myself and numerous workshops around the world. There is something very beautiful about setting the time aside to be in a training and something even more beautiful to be in a foreign land with new people about to embark on the same journey with you.

Here are my top 5 reasons on why you should do your yoga teacher training in Asia.

#1 The Cost

The total cost of the training is comparable to doing it back home in Canada where the trainings are about $3000 over  2 or 3 months depending on how the programs are structured. Except, it doesn’t include your accommodation and food.

My expenses in Canada at the time were $1500 a month ($900 for rent and the rest for food, transport etc). It was more like $1800 on the months where I went out more. So if I were to do a training in Canada over 4 months it would be cost of living plus the training which is (1500 x 3 months) + 3000 for the training = $7,500.

It sounds crazy but, if I flew to Asia and did the training it would be cheaper.

1,200 for a flight (you could get cheaper with some flight deals) + 3,000 for the training = $4,200.

Now, you would need to take the time off work and have someone taking over your lease while you are gone but even if you fronted up your own lease for a month, you’d still save money from cost of living (food and expenses). So it would cost you 4,200 + one months’ rent = 5,100 in my case. Still a savings of $2,400 plus a holiday!!

Now, of course this option isn’t for everyone if your rent is high and you are not willing to quit your job.

#2 Combining Your YTT with a Holiday

You have that time off work and you need a holiday anyway! So why not combine the two? These destination trainings are often retreat-like in nature and you will have spare time to explore and relax when you are not committing sutras to memory.

Why not get your training done in the warm tropical sun, detach from work and allow yourself to completely focus on your studies.

If you can’t take the entire 25 days off to do a training, lots of schools (like this one) allow  you to do the trainings in segments (in 50-hr or 100-hr segments), eventually accumulating to the hours you need.

#3 Experience a Spiritual Culture

There’s something quite different about eastern cultures. The spirituality there is unparalleled to that in the west. Watch as monks walk barefoot in the morning begging for alms. Let the temples teach you how mankind continues to built structures to house the deities.

Yoga after all comes from India. I would recommend everyone visit India at lease once in their life. But if you are sensitive to extreme poverty and suffering, then Thailand and Bali are your next best bets, both of which has excellent infrastructure and facilities. It’s a good transitional travel destination before India and Nepal.

#4 Immersion into Yogic Community

There is something beautiful about immersion into a routine and schedule, especially when it comes to yoga teacher trainings. I loved the fact that I saw the same people everyday for a month.

It gave me a sense that I was completely immersed into the yogic community and lifestyle. From meditation every morning with them, eating all my vegetarian meals with them, and exploring together. It felt like a family.

#5 Long Lasting Friendships and Memories that Will Last you a Lifetime.

And that family brought amazing memories that I cherish until today. The first and second trainings are events that I will never forget and will do it again in a heartbeat.

I’ve made life long friends, some whom I’ve seen again (some more than once) and some who I am planning to see.

These friends are so special to me and we connected at such a pivotal moment in all our lives, this connection is unparalleled to any other. A group of 20 or so individuals all wanting to be “yoga teachers.” Oh boy! Some of us never actually wanted to be teachers but wanted to experience the immersion, which also worked out well.


So if you’re on the fence whether you should do a training in North America, Australia, NZ or Europe, I hope this article helped and I hope you do your training in the East. You will not regret it.

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top cafe chiang mai work digital nomad
Adventures in Thailand, lifestyle, travel

Top 5 Best Cafés to Work From In Nimman, Chiang Mai for Digital Nomads

Best cafe chiang mai work

I’ve been living in Nimman, Chiang Mai for the past 3 months with the sole focus of setting up my yoga business Eka Bhumi Yoga and I’ve been to many (many) cafés around Chiang Mai. We tend to stick to the ones in the Nimman and surrounding area as opposed to the Old City because they are usually more spacious and less busy.

My criteria for a good cafe to work in is:

  • Air Conditioned
  • Ergonomic chair to table height ratio (not just coffee tables and couches).
  • Not too  loud with good air quality (not like The Camp in Maya Mall which is always packed with digital nomads and students and smells a little stuffy).

These are my top 5 favourite ones to work from:

#1
The Barn Eatery And Design

the barn best cafes to work in chiang mai
Opens at: 10:00 AM – 1:00 AM
WiFi: Strong in the mornings before the university students start to arrive at lunch time
Price of an Americano/cappuccino : 45/60
Coffee tastes : Decent

I love this place. It was built by a few architecture students as a final project and it is truly beautiful and inspiring.

Maybe because I’m sitting in such beautiful surroundings with natural lighting or its indie music they play here, but I found myself doing some of my best design work here. Like attracts like.

A lot of love, passion and thought went into the creation of this place and it has great vibes.

They offer a simple food menu (around 89 baht/dish) and the portions although small are very tasty.

#2
Wawee Coffee (Nimmanhaemida Road branch)

Opens at: 7 AM – 8 PM
WiFi: Medium-Strong, depends on how busy it is
Price of an Americano/cappuccino : 65/65
Coffee tastes :  a little on the strong bitter side which I like 🙂

Wawee coffee is a coffee chain in Thailand and boasts many locations in the country and about 10 in the Chiang Mai area itself. The one I like and where this article was written is this location.

We love this place because it’s opened early while most cafés open around 10. So it’s perfect for an early bird like me. It’s also set in a little boutique shop complex and has a 7-11 close by.

#3
Rustic & Blue (back room area)

Opens at: 8:30 AM – 10 PM
WiFi: Strong
Price of an Americano/cappuccino : 70/95
Coffee tastes : Good – western, farm to table style

This place has great coffee and WiFi, but be warned that they charge western prices – we always end up spending way too much money here.We like to camp out in the back separate air-conditioned section of the place where there are large tables and it’s quieter, but the usually close this section off by 2PM.

If you’re craving some farm to table type of food, this is the place for you.

#4
UResto&Liqour

Opens at : 8.30 AM till late 
WiFi : Always strong because it’s usually empty.
Price of an Americano/cappuccino : 65/75 (50/60 on special at time of writing). 
Coffee taste : Depends on the barista, the guy in the morning is a really good barista and then the coffee is shit not as good after he leaves.

Finally, I need to mention this place because it is completely off the radar due to its misleading name.I spent many, many hours working here because the place is modern, spacious and open (a little quirky Thai style decor here and there) but it was usually quiet with no customers and thus the WiFi was amazing.

Sometimes the staff play the music a little loud but you can tell them to turn it down a little.

You also get a loyalty card and stamps for every coffee and food dish ordered which is really nice touch. The food available here is local Thai and costs about 40 baht for the typical Stir Fried Basil Dish, 10 baht more for a fried egg. 65 baht big bottles of Chang are also nice way to end the work day.

#5
Ab Petite Cafe

Opens at: 11AM – 8PM (closed on Tuesdays)
WiFi: Medium, can be patchy in the afternoons
Price of an Americano/cappuccino : 40/55
Coffee tastes : Drinkable

Popular with Japanese expats (they also offer menus in Japanese), Ab Petite is a cutesy cafe that is spacious and reasonable. Best to work on articles here for a few hours. They also serve food at reasonable prices.


Although working from my apartment is do-able and cheaper…I know myself. And if I’m left to my devices in my apartment, I tend to procrastinate more, watch movies or paint my nails.

So going to a cafe forces me to put 4 hours aside for pure productiveness, then I usually go for food. And then rinse and repeat.

Happy working everyone!

NOTE TO READER :
If you found this article useful, please do give me a like and follow my blog. This is the currency that bloggers and digital nomads like you and me survive on, so do be generous as it doesn’t cost you anything!


Worthy Mentions that Didn’t Make the Cut

ALEXA Hostel

top cafe chiang mai work digital nomad
This didn’t make my list because it didn’t match my criteria of needing to be air-conditioned, but it’s really nice to work here in the mornings and on cooler days. Large tables and clean minimalist surroundings allow for a good flow of chi, ideas and work to be done in this space. There is always a western manager around keeping an eye on things and they give you a loyalty card for coffee as well. Coffee prices are 65 for Americano or cappuccino.

No. 39 Cafe

This cafe is hidden near the foothills of Doi Suthep and doesn’t have that much of a working area but the grounds are really unique and relaxing. Look, so pretty!

top cafe chiang mai work digital nomad

travel

[More Info] Extra info and tips for the Acatenango Hike November 2017 (Part 2/2)

This post is about extra tips and information of the Acatenango Hike. Read this other post first.


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In this post I will cover:

  • Trail Details
  • Difficulty Level
  • Toilet
  • Descent / Going Down 
  • Other Tips


1) HIKING TRAIL DETAILS FOR ACATENANGO VOLCANO

Summit : 3,976 metres
Basecamp : 3,175 metres
Trailhead : about 2,300 metres
[Antigua: 1,533 metres]

Elevation Gain:
Day 1 Trailhead to Basecamp :
875 metres
Day 2 Basecamp to Summit : 
801 metres
Total Elevation Gain :
1,676 metres

2) DIFFICULTY LEVEL

Okay, the Difficulty Level, really…

Some people said that this is the most difficult hike they’ve ever done, and to be honest I was getting a little bit psyched whether I should do it since my knee has been “off” from a half marathon about a year ago. Here’s what I think:

 It is “Definitely Difficult,” as they say BUT….

.
.. Is it that difficult? 
In my opinion…No, not IF you’re physically fit. Because:

(a) you stop every 20-30 minutes or so for breaks
(b) everyone in my group, even those in sneakers (don’t wear sneakers) finished. Struggled, but finished.

A 1,500m elevation gain and hiking up at 4AM in scree is not fun, nor easy. And the elevation makes you short of breath much quicker, hence the frequent stops. If that didn’t makes any sense, you will struggle. If you don’t know what “scree” is, you will learn what scree is and hate it going up. And you may hate it or love it going down.

It’s so do-able though so don’t let anyone scare or discourage you if you’re a decently fit person.

If by any chance you’re from a mountainous region, you’ll be even better off. A Norwegian couple in my group didn’t find it difficult after recently been hiking in the Rockies in Canada, where I’m from. My tent mate a 49 year-old runner managed just fine too (3 litres of water was not enough for him btw).

I found it to be a mixture between 2 hikes I know from the Rockies: The first 2-3 hours were like of the mid-section of Yamnuska, following 2-3 hours (completed in the wee hours) to be like upper part of Cirque Peak in Banff National Park.

4) TOILET
There is almost no coverage for peeing or pooping up at basecamp. This is especially more difficult for women.

There was only one makeshift outhouse shared by two sites. Bring toilet paper and hand sanitizer.

Best to empty your bowels before you go up.

3) GOING DOWN
Scree (loose rock) it the funnest part. You hated it going up but you’ll love it going down.

If you’re not used to it can be a little bit scary going down on. But you just lean back and keep lifting your legs.

Something to try is linking arms with a partner and bolting down as fast as you can. It feels a lot more stable and insane fun.

Also, going down can be a little hard on the knees, especially if you have had trouble from them before (like me!). Getting knee guards in Antigua beforehand may be a good idea.

4) OTHER TIPS
Hiking pole: Not necessary but helpful to have. If you don’t have one you can buy a stick for Q50 at the base.

Water: Drink all day the day before to make sure you are properly hydrated. Dehydration increases your risk for pulling muscles and injury. At high altitudes, you are losing more water than you would at lower elevations.

Food: Bring extra food. The food portions are Guatemalan. And you will be hungry.

Camera: If you want to capture the lava at night, bring a proper camera. It was hard to capture on my phone.

Altitude Matters!
Don’t neglect this important part. Altitude sickness occurs 2,500 metres. If this hike is scheduled at the beginning of your trip and you are not used to that elevation, just take that into account. If you don’t know what the elevation of your current city is find out. 3 people in my group were affected by it.

Cold: I’m from Canada and it’s cold. Warm jacket (can be borrowed from Gilmer’s place) gloves, scarf and the likes.