Most of my friends raised eyebrows at me when I told them that I wanted to spend my birthday eating green balls of spirulina and doing yoga on an island in Thailand…alone.
My 23rd birthday present to myself was a 5-day yoga and meditation retreat on Haad Yuan in Koh Phangan- totally quiet, contemplative, and solo.
I’ve never spent a birthday alone. It’s expected that birthdays, similar to New Years, should have a tangible amount of hype revolving around big plans with lots of people. However, this year there were no plans and no expectations to set me up for even the slightest disappointment. It was just me- being and enjoying- and I had the best. birthday. ever.
On the big day, which was also the first day of retreat, I enjoyed 2 yoga classes, a group meditation, a delicious, giant salad, my favorite coconut soup (tom kha gai), ginger tea, and journaling while listening to the waves crash on the beach. It was so simple and perfect.
Don’t get me wrong- I love being around friends and family, but I also seek out down time and alone time. For me, being alone doesn’t mean being lonely; my alone time is accompanied by introspection and rejuvenation, which is very important, especially when traveling.
Blooming Lotus Yoga provided an amazing space for this rejuvenation to take place. The yoga space was a beautiful, open room with wood floors, and it was surrounded by trees and stillness. I had 2 yoga classes and a lenghty meditation every day. My lovely yoga teacher, Annette, always seemed to know what we needed, weather it was a slow, heart opening class or energizing class. (She also provided us with a wealth of information on doshas, meditation tips, and yogic lifestyle in general.)
Before our morning yoga class, she would lead us in breathing exercises and meditation. One early morning our group was able to meditate on a secluded beach while the sun came up. After starting each day with a clear and open mind, I was reminded how important meditation is in my daily life.
Between yoga classes, I logged hours in Sanctuary’s herbal steam room, swam in the ocean to cool off, drank fresh coconuts, and read in my little hammock outside my hut.
Everyday I hiked down the dirt trail to Sanctuary at Haad Tien beach. This is where I found all the healthy, hidden luxuries that Bangkok had been denying me. Balls of Spirulina! Healthy smoothies without pounds of sugar! More actual salad! This made my yoga retreat all the more exciting.
Sanctuary has a Tea Temple, where they host a variety of workshops. This sweet lounging area also has a library of books on all things spiritual and zen, plus decks of tarot cards and quotes. I spent several afternoons on a couch reading delectable quotes, pulling a tarot card a day for fun, and sipping their fresh kombucha. Yes!
In addition to rejuvenation, these last few days in Thailand served as a time for forgiving the country for all its annoyances and enjoying the beauty of its islands. It was a time to look back on the past year of my life, which left me completely in awe and emotional about the relationships I had made and the lessons I had learned.
It was also a time to squeeze in as many cheap massages as I could and attend my last island party with the grungy, local hippies. My yoga gal pals and I swathed ourselves in sarongs for the ‘sarong but right’ night, which was followed by an exhilarating midnight swim in the ocean.
During these 5 days, I was able to reconnect to myself and things I love. It was the perfect week of feeling grateful, healthy, radiant, and refreshed. I left with a very full heart. Although alone, this is a birthday I will remember for the rest for the rest of my life.
I hear Blooming Lotus Yoga has a new location in BALI…. Hello 24th Birthday?!
Have you ever had an amazing me, myself, and I birthday?