In the early hours of the morning on a small Thai island, I find myself straddling a man named Kom.
This is outside of lockdown, of course, and our hands are gripped together, our eyes locked: we’re so close I can make out individual beads of sweat on his brow. We have literally just met, but are hoping to be perfect partners…
‘Ready?’ Kom asks. I gulp, nod and brace myself – then he launches me energetically up into the air. My body hovers above him as I balance on his hands and feet, doing my best Superman impression.
For a moment, I’m flying, with a giddy grin on my face. Then I lose my form – a plank is a tough core workout on the ground, let alone in the air – and topple back down, spluttering with laughter.
This is my first experience of acroyoga, a combination of yoga and acrobatics. It’s not what I had in mind when I signed up for a nine-day, TailorMade Thailand Wellness tour with G Adventures; as a keen yoga practitioner, I’d been hoping for some lovely, calming classes in the sunshine.
What I was getting was a much more unusual – and fun – take on a traditional healthy holiday. Unlike the usual retreats where you stay in one location, this trip includes plenty of travel.
From Bangkok, my group of seven travels to Chiang Mai and Pai, in the north of the country, and Koh Samui, with tours of lively markets and gilded temples by Moh, our excellent guide, along the way.
Then there’s the yoga. We’re treated to five classes, including the classic sunrise and sunset yoga by the sea, where the soothing sound of waves is enough to make even the most frazzled traveller find their Zen. But it’s the more unusual varieties that I enjoy most. As well as acroyoga, I try ‘wheel yoga’. Imagine a vinyasa-based class, with all its flowing movements, then throw in a circular prop that’s meant to intensify your stretches.
As I attempt to copy instructor Kai, who leads us through the routines, I burn with exertion. I never imagined holding a plastic circle above my head could make my arms throb quite so much.
But it’s bliss for backbends, supporting my spine and allowing me to go deeper into the pose than I would in a regular class. I make a mental note to buy my own yoga wheel as soon as I’m back on the hotel wi-fi.
With all that exercise, I’m glad there’s some muscle-soothing in store. In Bangkok, we spend two hours at the renowned Chetawan Wat Pho Thai Traditional Massage School, located within the magnificent temple itself.
But we’re not simply going to lie back and receive the treatment from the pros (though there will be an hour of that at the end). Instead, we’re taught how to massage each other – talk about a swift way to bond with your tour mates.
‘In Thailand, having regular massages is not seen as pampering, it’s a way to maintain your health,’ explains Moh.
After changing into loose-fitting fishermen pants, my group gets to, er, know each other better by pressing and stretching each other’s arms and legs under the expert instruction of head masseuse Aey.
Within minutes my thumbs are aching and I’m relieved when it’s my turn for a massage from Aey. My muscles melt beneath her dexterous hands and I leave feeling relaxed and rejuvenated, appreciating it so much more for having learned the techniques myself.
If you are what you eat then you can be as healthy as you choose on this trip. In Chiang Mai, we eat a traditional northern-style meal of fried banana blossom and sticky rice. I sip electric-blue butterfly-pea flower tea, said to improve hair growth. In Pai, I learn how to make fresh spring rolls and vow to cook them back at home.
Our final evening is spent stand-up paddleboarding off Bophut Beach on Koh Samui. With a yoga wheel on order, and a promise to myself to find an acroyoga class wherever I lay my hat next, I can’t help but feel as though the benefits of nine days of wellness are sinking in for good.
The G Adventures nine-day TailorMade Wellness Thailand trip visiting Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pai and Koh Samui was £1,249pp, including eight nights’ accommodation, internal flights, and all activities mentioned.
To tailor-make a similar trip for when restrictions lift, call 020 7313 6953 or visit gadventures.com.
Five more healthy Thai practices
Thailand is home to a number of medicinal hot springs, including in Pai, where Pai Hot Springs Spa Resort has a number of natural pools open to guests.
Your stand-up paddleboard acts as your mat in SUP yoga. Balancing on water requires more core strength but it’s a fun alternative to the traditional forms of yoga and is a good way to start the day.
Husband-and-wife team Charlie and Lek run a brilliant cooking class in Pai, which sees you visit a morning market for fresh ingredients then make them into delicious Thai dishes.
This is a martial art that dates back to the 18th century. At the Attachai gym in Bangkok, you’ll find it’s a great way to kick up the energy, and a lesson will leave you sweating and smiling.
Hot herbal compress
An ancient massage using herbs and spices will ease your muscles with a smell that’s good enough to eat. Learn how to do it with a course at Chiang Mai’s massage school.
How to get your Metro newspaper fix
Metro newspaper is still available for you to pick up every weekday morning or you can download our app for all your favourite news, features, puzzles… and the exclusive evening edition!
Download the Metro newspaper app here.