The Healing East
Why a stay at Samahita Retreat is the ultimate place to find the time to reconnect with yourself.
There are no shortage of yoga retreats in Thailand, ranging from the very basic to the very high-end. They are so ubiquitous that it can be hard to discern what is actually on offer and what the benefits of a stay might be.
Samahita Retreat is located in the Gulf of Thailand, on the island of Koh Samui. A 45 minute drive from the island’s airport, it is situated on a quiet beach that guests pretty much have to themselves, bar one or two very quiet restaurants.
The retreat runs a residential programme all year around called “YogaCoreCycle”, as well as hosting international teachers for specific retreats. Guests can join the “YogaCoreCycle” programme at any time and for as long as they would like.
The retreat strikes the perfect balance between providing yoga, relaxation, mediation, but also crucially, the option to dip into any of these aspects as much or as a little as you like. While some yoga retreats might be off-putting to those without a regular yoga practice, Samahita caters to all levels and you can go as deep into the world of mediation and yoga as suits you. The yoga element is a consuming as you choose it to be.
Mornings start at 7am with a sunrise spin class for 30 minutes. This is followed by an hour meditating and asna (breathing) practice between 7:30am-8:30am and an hour and a half of Vinyassa Flow between 8:30am-10am.
As a meditator with great intentions and but not so much follow through, the idea of the hour long meditation seemed very intimidating initially. However, the meditation was not uncomfortably long and a significant portion of the hour was spent on asna practice.
In the Thai heat, the idea of 90 minute yoga also seemed daunting. The class was structured in way that the level of exertion never reached an uncomfortable point, with the first 30 minutes being generally spent on stretching, the second on standing poses and flow, and the last 30 minutes on the floor.
There is a rule of silence before 10am. As there are classes until then, it is not difficult to adhere to and there is something particularly joyous about being so aware of the sounds of the birds and sea while doing your morning practice. The beach shala, where many of the classes are held, directly overlooks the sea. Contemplations on gratitude are not difficult in such a setting.
The food in Samahita is like none I have ever tasted. As an aspirational vegetarian, with the palate of a three year old, I do often feel like I am being overly virtuous and depriving myself when I eat vegetarian dishes at home. This was certainly not the case at Samahita, where I found myself excited to see what was on offer at every meal.
Included in the cost of your stay are three buffet meals a day. No dairy, meat, sugar or msg are included in the cooking. The food is so fresh that it will reawaken your taste buds to such an extent that you will re- imagine the possibilities of a vegetarian diet. There is also a juice bar where you can order an array of juices. My daily favouirte was the “Orgasmic Chocolate”, made with Cacao, dates, bee-pollen and maca. The healthiest indulgence I have ever enjoyed.
Days are spent by the pool or walking the beach. There is also the option of using the paddle boards or kayaks provided by the retreat. There are daily excursions to local islands or temples and a weekly beach clean-up for those looking to give back.
The afternoon sees the core class at 4pm. This varied day to day but often involved TRX ropes and use of props such as balancing balls and resistance bands. There was an option for a second spin class at 4:30pm and this was followed by a restorative Yin Yoga class from 5pm to 6pm.
The dinner buffet is served at 6pm and then there is an approaches to meditation class from 7:30pm-8pm.
The layout of the retreat is cleverly designed to ensure that you can have as much or as little privacy as you like. Tables are communal. so you can sit and chat to follow guests but if the mood takes you to eat by yourself or read your book, there is an adjoining area, overlooking the sea, where you can do so, without feeling anti-social.
The spa has a number of treatments available. Prices are higher than you might be accustomed to, if you are a regular visitor to Thailand, although there are discounts available if you buy a package. It is worth booking your massages in advance as the evening massage times, in particular, are at a premium.
The facilities close at 9pm and it is early to bed for most guests staying there. Rooms and beds are comfortable and clean, with hot water showers and eco-friendly shampoo, conditioner and body wash. It is a plastic- free resort, so bring your reusable water bottle, which can be refilled at different water stations around the retreat.
Travellng as far as Thailand might seem excessive for those looking for just a week-long retreat but within three days of staying at Samahita I felt relaxed and rejuvenated to such an extent that I do think it could be worth making that journey for a shorter stay.
While you can decide to opt out of the more spiritual side of things and purely focus on the physical, I found that after three days making use of all of the tools available to me, my stress levels began to decrease dramatically. I also left my phone off for a number of days which significantly helped with my efforts to disconnect.
I spent 7 nights at Samahita but really felt like I could have done at least 10. The benefits of the retreat have been immense and I am already planning to make a trip there an annual event. It is the ultimate place to disconnect and really when you do, you will find it so much easier to reconnect to yourself.