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Mokshadharma, a house by the river, and Cheeky Monkey Yoga in Chiang Khong

13 Sep

A few days ago we were cycling along the Mekong River path when Dom pointed out a small sign attached to the side of a building on stilts which read, ‘Yoga’.  Curious, we climbed the wooden steps leading to an entrance, only to be greeted by a Thai lady who pointed under the building and said, “That way”.

The space underneath felt like walking through someone’s cluttered garage with lots of doors on the right hand side, and hammocks hanging from beams in the ceiling. The garage then opened out onto an overgrown garden area, and a series of steps with metal bottle tops embedded into the concrete like a mosaic.

Once at the bottom, we finally came to a sign attached to a door which read, ‘Cheeky Monkey Yoga- This is it’. After several knocks and an overly excited greeting from 2 dogs with big ears, a smiling lady in her late 50’s/ early 60’s opened the door,  introduced herself as Diane (or Mokshadharma – her Yogi name)  and invited us in.

Di-Mokshadharma’s home/ yoga studio was a beautiful, airy, open plan space which looked out onto the whole of the Mekong River and Laos. She explained that her and her husband had moved from Australia 5 years ago to live in Chiang Khong, and she’d been teaching yoga for 20 years, but now offered 1-1 classes for travellers.

We visited again yesterday to do a class in the evening. Bamboo mats and embroidered cushions had been placed out by the large open window overlooking the river at sunset, and  candles flickered around the rest of the room. The yoga was incredibly relaxing and one of the best classes I’ve had. However, equally as interesting was how Di-Mokshadharma and her husband came to live there.

I had no idea that it wasn’t possible for non-Thai residents to own property in Thailand. Di-Mokshadharma and her husband’s home did not technically belong to them. The garage like room we walked through on the way there was actually part of a hostel, and 5 years ago the space that is now their home had been neglected and was pretty uninhabitable.

With permission from the hostel owners, they then did up the neglected section which is now not only their home and yoga studio, but also a space where they voluntarily teach local kids in the area English. In return, they only pay the relevant bills for their section of the property, and are involved with other developmental work in the community.

I’m not really sure what you’d call this- Perhaps just a friendly agreement? I’ve certainly never heard of anything quite like it, but I love the idea.

Mountains, meditation, and Chiang Mai’s best view

1 Sep

For the reminder of our time in Chiang Mai we were  staying in mountainous jungle land surrounding the magical looking Doi Suthep Temple.

Eventhough we were there to practice meditation  I think I enjoyed wandering around the surrounding jungle and temple more, but perhaps that’s a form of meditation in itself.

The Temple looked absolutely incredible at night. There were next to no tourists; all the buildings glowed gold and were surrounded by candles and incense sticks.

From around 7-8pm you you could also see and hear the monks chanting in Pali language in their orange robes. And from every angle of the Temple there was an amazing view of Chiang Mai which seemed to sprawl out for as far as I could see.

Dom pointed out that we were so high up, you could see planes taking off and flying through the air. It was like looking down on an incredibly starry sky.

Meditation in Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai

25 Aug

For the next 6 days we’re going to be meditating in the ancient Doi Suthep temple in the mountains surrounding Chiang Mai. We’re not allowed to use computers, listen to music, read, or eat any solid food after 12 noon, and all our clothing has to be white.  I even bought some ‘sexy’ white underwear (see picture).

The daily routine:

4:30am- The day begins
5:00am- Morning practice
6:30am- Breakfast
8:00am- Short Dhamma Talk
11:00am- Lunch
3:00pm- Daily meeting with a teacher
7:00pm- Dhamma Talk
10:00pm- The day ends

http://www.fivethousandyears.org/new/index.php