One Coast Gets Cosy With The Yogargen’s Bonnie MacClean

How did you end up in Samui and what made you want to create the Yogarden?
After spending a short time here in 2003, we made the decision to move to Koh Samui from the UK. Samui struck an instant chord in my heart; I fell in love with its natural beauty and lovely people.

I had a small child at the time and taking the opportunity to bring him up in this environment surrounded by beaches, mountains, warm outdoors and lovely Thai people, just seemed completely right. My husband established a landscape design company, while The Yogarden was a long awaited dream come true. I wanted to bring together my love of yoga, good healthy food and a welcoming environment that gave people an inviting, unique space to do yoga and relax. Throughout the years we looked at a variety of options around the island but when the opportunity arose in Fisherman’s Village for the beautiful ‘boran’ (90 year old teak house) I knew instantly it was meant to be. The house needed a lot of work and attention to bring it to the current state but it has been a labour of love and totally worth it. People love it and so do we. The garden was naturally my husband’s creation while the house has an ‘energy’ about it that magnifies all the reasons we created it.

What was your very first encounter or memory with yoga and what made you fall in love with it?
I tried yoga many years ago when I lived in San Francisco. I often felt intimidated by the atmosphere of some of the studios so it wasn’t until I became pregnant, while living in East Africa, that I truly connected with yoga as a regular practice. It was a very special time in my life and doing yoga while pregnant gave me such a unique opportunity to connect with my baby. This chapter of life will always hold a very special place in my heart. I realized how much more yoga was than just a physical exercise. My practice of yoga has changed throughout the years but it continues to teach me so much about myself and the endless connections we, as humans, make in our lives. I’m so grateful for that. I often get to see people who fall in love with yoga when they try it for the first time at The Yogarden. Many times I get amazing emails from customers who have really transformed their lives after discovering yoga here and thank us for our part in their discovery. It is quite a privileged & rewarding job I have at the end of the day!

Is there a pose you find the hardest to master and any tips and tricks on getting your zen on?
Every body is different and so even dedicated masters of yoga may find certain poses tricky. I have seen some people who have never practiced yoga before do very complex asanas in their first class while some might struggle with very ‘simple’ ones for years. It’s important to realize this and move away from judging ourselves compared to others. The key to yoga asanas is “practice”. This is why it is aptly called this. If you return with dedication to your practice, as with most things, you will see poses become easier. Even more important is to allow yourself to enjoy the journey getting there. It is, ultimately, as significant as reaching it. This is part of the holistic way in which yoga can teach us things about ourselves. Many of these lessons learnt on the mat can often benefit us in our daily life. When you learn to appreciate all the subtle changes that yoga can provide, I think you can be the master of your own zen.

Yogarden has grown considerably in a short amount of time since it was launched – what are the plans for you and the Yogarden in the future?
We have been very fortunate since we opened. Our reception from both the local community and visitors to the island has been really fantastic. Although we are a very small studio in comparison to others on the island we have been able to grow organically at a pace that suits us. We have so many people who join us from all corners of the globe and now we see people returning for a second and third time. We get customers who have been recommended by their friends who only visited once and this feels like the most natural way to progress. We are now welcoming well-known teachers from all over the world for workshops and trainings and word seems to be spreading quickly. We will soon have on-site accommodation options for more retreats and hope to expand upon what we have already achieved without loosing the charm and intimacy that makes our studio so special. It’s hard to predict the future of The Yogarden. We have so many promising possibilities but we will take each day as it comes UP