Updated: Jan 25, 2021
Taladaya Homestay- Paradise and home away from home
Hmm… yoga retreat always sounds so juicy and relaxing just hearing the name even if you are not a Yoga Pro. Nowdays is a leading industry with yoga retreats for any taste, age, ability, and any time of the year and any place you can think about. Well, maybe only not Antarctica (or at least I have not heard of yet). You get the point - is a lot. Oh yes, a lot. It could be overwhelming if you start searching for a Yoga retreat. That is how this article was inspired like a little guide to the best places to go on a Yoga retreat.
Like a retreat organizer and host and yogi on the other side I have been lucky to visit these amazing places and share my and my student’s unique experiences. It is hard to nominate one retreat centre only as they are all so good. All the places are incredible and offer a different experiences. My classification will be rather equal. One of the best places to go on a Yoga retreat undoubted is Taladya Homestay, nettled in Doi Socket village in the Chiang Mai region, Thailand.
You feel the hospitality and warmth from the moment you start communicating with the hosts of Taladya – Patrick and Nathalie. Hearth warming French couple which relocated years ago from Bordeaux (France) to Thailand. From the moment of our communication I knew we will have an amazing time, but little did I know back then will be that amazing.
Patrick and Nathalie
Have you been to paradise? Flying from Bali (another earth paradise) you can expect without sounding overly confident you can be hardly surprised with hospitality, beauty, and wellness among others. And yet, when we saw Patrick waiting for us at Chiang Mai airport with my name on a sheet of paper NADEZHDA, his welcoming smile made us instantly feel at home already. And our Taladya journey began.
Like a natural curios person, I like to learn about the places I visit from the source and Patrick started the intro into Thai culture straight from the airport transfer. And that continues the whole week. During the time we were there it felt we are visiting friends or family and they are showing us around with excitement. For me this personal touch is priceless. You can go to lots of different fancy places with stunning designs and yet feel just the next one regardless of how “smiley” is the stuff. At Taladya we had both- the lucky combination.
Taladya Homestay, Doi Socket
The car is pulling off in the drive yard. Wow is huge! This was my first reaction and thought. Then more bright smiles from Nathalie and the lovely staff who came to greet us and take our bags and invites us for a cup of tea.
We just arrived and we felt the Fairy Godmother took us there and say to us “ ENJOY”- you deserve it. I looked very hard to see Patrick and Nathalie's fairy wings. Well, I could not see their wings but felt them all the way through.
My second thought "Is so green, with gorgeous statues of gods and goddesses". We are instantly back on the Zen vibes and any tiredness from the flights ( Bali to Bangkok and Bangkok to Chiang Mai) melted. We sat to have refreshments with these gorgeous greenish ceramic cups with ornaments made with technique 2000 years old from the Caledonian market we had visited during our stay. The lamps in our room were also from the Caledonian market with elephant ornaments as well as the cups in the room. Then you walk in the bathroom and see the same which made it feel even more special. Good that we went to see the Caledonian market at the end of our stay, as sometimes I am like an elephant in a glass store. It could have been very unfortunate as all the ceramic work from the Caledonian market was not only beautiful and unique but also expensive.
Chiang Mai Celadon
The Taladya Homestay offers you the warm hospitality of luxury accommodation surrounded by a green oasis. They are six rooms and they reflect a contemporary Northern Thai design. You will also find special touches, Thai silk pillows, bed runners, and artworks, giving rooms a distinctive Chiang Mai personality and charm. And all the rooms are extremely spacious.
I don’t know about you but I can spend all day in the pool. Saying pool, this time I am talking about tranquillity, peace, and statues. It does make a difference - seeing the water coming from ancient animals back to the pool and sound from this whole process is so calming. And is us, only us there. A bit selfish for a yoga teacher.
Opposite the pool is the massage room. Like the place we were practising yoga, has a roof and is open all around. Find out later on what has happened there, by keep reading.
One of the things I loved most in Taladya Homestay and the places we visit is that everything is outdoors. You have your breakfast outside on a carefully arranged table overlooking the small pond. All the teacups and dishes are from the Caledonian market adding the French elegance without the calories from their tasty famous butter croissants. All this makes you slow down and take your time to have and enjoy the breakfast surrounded by nature and peace. And slowing down is an essential part of yoga philosophy and so contrary to most people fast-paced lives and general yang energy in modern society.
The food is locally sourced with some exotic and interesting fruits and freshly squeezed juices. After 2-3 hours of morning practice, it was the perfect fuel for a day full of exciting adventures.
I usually organised before my yoga retreats with two practices, morning yoga practice which is dynamic, and afternoon yoga class which is more restorative yoga. However, for Thailand Yoga Retreat I had changed the structure and most of the days we had double yoga morning practice which kept us energized for the rest of the day. We had so many places to choose from to practice yoga. My favourite was by the pond. I just loved so much to teach there. It felt like a place that was coming from my dreams. It was an outdoor studio that was open all around and had a roof, so perfect as the weather was indeed warm.
Surrounded by the water, fish, and green around us were the perfect scenery to practice yoga and meditation. If I can, I will be in nanoseconds there again.
After our yoga practice and breakfast, we have a full day to tap into Thai culture and embrace again our roots and heal from unwanted and negative energy by being all day in nature.
Mae On- Huai Kaeo
Fancy having a lunch a few meters high in the jungle. Yeah, why not we do this all the time. We had lunch in extraordinary places- a restaurant build in the lake or in the case of the above video little jewel frankly quite high in the Thai jungle.
The entrance of the place is below and you have to go by the stairs which are following a stream coming from above. We were walking around the little stream coming from above and Nathalie was showing us a Jack fruit growing on nearby tree. I have not tried Jack fruit prior to my visit to Thailand but I was impressed by how tasty it was and so perfect for vegetarians.
Buddhism and its beauty
If you had travelled in Europe, you will notice some repetitive moments in the architecture and overall outlook in the majority of countries. Of course, it’s amazing and beautiful, but hey “How many times you can be taken by Medieval building or Gothic church”. Is imprinted in human nature to want variety. And if you like Eastern cultures and temples you are already winning. From enormous statues of Buddha, (by the way few different people were proclaiming that the biggest statue of Buddha is in their district) to the golden statues and dragon ornaments. Waves and points are something to look for are like the points of the roofs are coming together and reaching for the Divine.
Practically speaking better wear flip flops as you are going to take your shoes off many times.
Don’t ask me how many temples we visited, enough to be able to tap tapped in the Buddhism and Buddhist temples, the monks living there, even got blessings from them.
One of the peaks was when we had a Herbal steam experience in a Buddhist Temple. So you go in the steam room-stay 5 minutes, go out stay a couple of minutes outside, and drink detoxifying herbs. Then go back in for 10 minutes and go out again drink the herbal drink and go back in for 15 min. By the 3rd round was only me and one of my students who managed to stay.
The residential monk told us that monks from other temples are driving few hours to come and have a steam room experience.
The Thai Massage experience
After the massage I had there I can say fully I know what is a Thai Yoga massage. We had two massage treatments scheduled and included in the program from Taladya Homestay. My turn has come and one of my students who have been before me said to me - "O you should go to her she is really good and knows what she is doing ". Great, I thought to myself. In the beginning, the massage feels amazing and so relaxing. Well, this was just the beginning. I was not prepared mentally for the pain that followed. The lady making the massage asked me - "Does it hurt" ?. On which I answer -" Yes". She said good and kept massaging the same area. For me, that was a strange mix of pain, pleasure, uncomfortable feeling and at the same time I knew deep down to connective tissue level was good for me. The same happened to all of us. We were talking recently with my students that she needs a massage as the one we had in Thailand. So conclusion was -it was a good thing. Still, thank god the second treatment was a more relaxing experience.
The Elephant day
The picture above heading back to the Elephant Sanctuary after a long day with these amazing elephants.
Aren’t they adorable? My student and friend Sat were totally excited since we started talking about a yoga retreat in Thailand and having a whole day in an Elephant Sanctuary. I was also excited of course, and quite brave in my thoughts about once we get there. Well, being “brave” in my thoughts stayed being brave in my thoughts. While it was perfectly organised, and people knew what there are doing some part of me remain cautious. Something I am not recommending is watching horror real incidents connected with elephants two weeks before you travel to meet them.
I enjoyed my time with them practicing distance and admiring them from aside. Only once I was able to touch the oldest one - the mother. Her energy felt so calming and gentle. First, we fed them, and then we took a walk with them through the jungle. We stopped at a nice waterfall with a small water pond where the Elephants were taking their bath. If you are brave enough like my friend Sat you can bathe with them. Just to clarify the elephants we were hanging out with were free elephants and the sanctuary is family run. Riding or any other harmful activities are not allowed.
Stand by me- the latest version. It was quite impressive how these beautiful, yet massive creatures walk so graciously in the jungle. We were sharing the same path through the trees and they were manoeuvring with such an easy like Thai ballerinas having their own version of “Swan Lake”. We have 4 hours drive back, definitely worth it.
Our lunch in the jungle while with the elephants.
Back to the house for dinner time. Frankly, I feel so lucky, we had 80 percent of our food at Taladya as is not easy to find vegetarian options in a lot of the places. And mixing Thai cuisine with a French touch and healthy modern feel - made the perfect combination.
Make a Wish- Lantern Festival
We were sitting at the table and having dinner, two days before we had to leave when Nathali and Patrick said to us they have a surprise for us. Even though it wasn't yet the Loi Krathong festival they prepared a mini version of it for us. It was a truly magical experience and another one I am so grateful for. They said to us that during the time of the festival they are thousands of lanterns and even some of them might go as high as the airplanes.
Now is a time to make a wish....