Chiang Mai Yoga Retreat plus
Service Week at Elephant Nature Park
with Alyson Atma Simms
The highlight of our yoga adventure to Thailand will be our week of seva (selfless service) volunteering at Elephant Nature Park – an educational sanctuary for the endangered Asian elephant (among many other rescued animals!). But before that, we’ll have a relaxing and pampering 4 night 5 day retreat in Chiang Mai complete with daily yoga classes, spa treatments, nourishing meals, and a Thai cooking class. You’ll have opportunities to go into town if you’d like to visit local temples and the famous Chiang Mai night market, or you can just relax and prepare for your week of service at Elephant Nature Park!
Your yoga teacher and guide for this trip is Alyson Simms and this this will be her third trip leading a volunteer group to Thailand and Elephant Nature Park.
-Susanna, 2017 participant
Thursday February 2 – Arrivals in Chiang Mai
We will arrange a transport from Chiang Main International Airport to our yoga home in Chiang Mai
Friday, Saturday and Sunday – February 3, 4, 5
Yoga, spa services and relaxation!
You are close enough to the city to go in to explore and shop if you like! Our hotel offers free nightly shuttle to the Night Bazaar and taxi’s can be arranged if you want to go into town to visit some local Buddhist temples.
Monday February 6 – Sunday, February 12
After breakfast, we will be transported to Elephant Nature Park!
We will be amongst all the volunteers for the week and we will be provided with a schedule of service tasks.
Couples will receive a small private room. Others will be in rooms shared with 2 – 5 others from our group. Bathrooms and showers may be attached or just outside. There are private shower rooms and bathroom stalls. Abundant vegan meals are included.
While at Elephant Nature Park, Alyson will do her best to offer some sort of yoga class or meditation each day, as our schedule permits. You WILL need to bring a travel yoga mat for this. Please be prepared to be a volunteer – there are some videos included below to give you an idea of what to expect!
Sunday February 12 – transfers departing at 1pm and 3pm back to Chiang Mai or to the airport for your departure home! (If you are adding extra time in Thailand, you can be dropped in Chiang Mai)
Participants are welcomed to add days on the front or back end at their own expense.
CLICK HERE to read more about the Asian Elephant ...
There are a number of elephant races within the Asian species. For instance the Indian elephant, is bigger, has longer front legs and a thinner body than their Thai counterparts. As the park deals exclusively with Thai elephants we will concern ourselves with this particular order. The facts are, however, generally applicable to all types of Asian Elephant.
Various authorities differ somewhat on exact details. Using our own experience and taking into account numerous sources we present you with our own interpretation. Elephants, like human beings, can and do vary in many characteristics, emotions and personality.
Asian Elephants – Existing Numbers
The Asian Elephant, still known to many as the Indian Elephant, is officially an endangered species. Present numbers have dropped to an alarmingly low level with estimates of under 30,000 left in the entire world. This disturbingly small number of survivors is epitomised by the fact that these gentle beast have been exterminated from large areas of their former habitat.
In Thailand there is an estimated 3,000-4,000 elephants. Around half of this number are domesticated, the remainder living wild in National Parks Reserves. Some 300 are suffer under appalling conditions in Bangkok.
It is notable that at the start of the 20th century (1900 AD) over 100,000 elephants graced the Siamese (Thai) countryside.
They are forced to walk on hot tarmac roads by gangs of elephant owners and beg for fruit and food. The owner of often buys the elephant purely to obtain begging money from sympathetic passers by. As he has scant experience with animal training, the hapless creature is cruelly treated and beaten as the rider becomes impatient. In the city the animal cannot possibly get the 200-300 kg of food and 100-200 litres of water necessary for it’s daily nourishment so it plods the hot polluted streets, thirsty hungry and confused. These animals quickly suffer from stress through polluted air, poor diet, dehydration, loneliness and their sensitive ears are soon damaged. Much of the fruit purchased from local sellers has been treated with chemicals and causes serious stomach problems and eventually death.
Other forms of, less apparent abuse come in the form of pet baby elephants featured at hotels and entertainment complexes. Although the animals may seem happy enough they are invariably fed the wrong diet, suffer from loneliness and boredom and will soon die. Many unwitting tourists, delighted at the sight of a “cute” baby elephant, are completely unaware that the lifespan of the creature is likely to be only a few years.
There are a number of important factors to consider but we will deal with the four main ones;
First and foremost is human encroachment in the domain of the elephant. With a fast growing population Asia does not have the land resources for both humans and the indigenous wildlife populations. There is not a government in the world that will sacrifice it’s voters in favour of mere animals.
Secondary is greed. Whilst it is inevitable that much land is set aside for growing human populations there are a number of influential persons seeking huge land areas for personal gain. Illegal logging and such environmentally detrimental pursuits lead to a reduction in grazing or browsing land for the animals.
Thirdly is poaching for ivory, skin or aphrodisiacs which the elephant is said to possess.
Fourthly: Sport. Unbelievably there are such deluded souls amongst us that actually think the killing a defenseless animal is sport. Wealthy patron’s of these games are willing to travel and pay handsomely for the sheer pleasure of “bagging” an elephant.
How Elephant Nature Park is helping
Through the development of our park we are providing a haven for these animals. The birth of three baby elephants within a few months of opening was both a joy for everyone at the park and a great encouragement.
Remember: There are less than 30,000 of the species left in the world and under 4,000 in Thailand 20% of which are believed to live in Chiang Mai province.
Traveling to Thailand from the US is an adventure in itself! Expect 2-3 plane changes and 25-35 hours of travel. You’ll need to leave the US on Jan 31 or Feb 1 to arrive on February 2nd. We know many of you will choose to spend time in advance in Bangkok or Southern Thailand, so arrival times will vary. Hotel rooms are typically ready by 2pm.
*if you are arriving on Feb 2nd, please note that some flights arrive around midnight. These flights listed at midnight on Feb 2nd are actually LATE night, just after 11:59pm on Feb 1st, so rooms will not be ready when you arrive around 2am. Please discuss this with Laura before booking.
We will provide a pick up for airport arrivals on the 2nd. If you are already on Chiang Mai, we will provide you with our hotel details so you can meet us there. Because we’ll be a smaller group (16 max) – we’ll make introductions and share arrivals in advance.
After our week at Elephant Nature Park, we can transport you back to Chiang Mai (if you’ve addd some extra time there) or directly to the International Airport.
Please consider purchasing Trip Insurance to protect your investment is you can’t travel or have flight delays, baggage loss, etc . Informatiuon is provided a the time of enrollment. At the LEAST, ENP requires that each colunteer have at a minimum emergency medical insurance. This can be purhcsed from a variety of providers and is typically $40-$80.
She was drawn to her first yoga class in 2001 to live a deeper life. Her true self was ignited and her life became one of devotion. Alyson has studied: Hatha, vinyasa, tantra, ashtanga, restorative, yin, zen mediation, qi-gong, yoga nidra, trance dance, and some good, old-fashioned sitting quietly on the floor. Her teaching, yoga practice, and healing ability and has taken her around the world to practice, study, and teach. [Read more about Alyson]
For the Chiang Mai retreat nights, we can offer single or double occupancy rooms (those are the images below), for our service week at Elephant Nature Park, simple volunteer accommodations are all shared (2-5 volunteers per accommodation).
We’ve arranged a luxurious 4-night spa retreat in the heart of Chiang Mai before your week volunteering at Elephant Nature Park.
Deluxe rooms, beautiful meals overlooking the river, daily yoga classes, a Thai cooking class with dinner, the opportunity to visit the beautiful Buddhist temples, AND a visit the the famous Chiang Mai night market.
PLUS each particpant will receive a credit to use at the 5* spa and enjpy the hydrotherapy pools, specialty treatments and 2 hours massages.
Chiang Mai Accommodations
The ultimate in pampering and relaxation to acclimate from your long travel. (scroll for images)
Rarin Jinda Hotel and Spa
Scroll on the images to see where you’ll be for the 4 nights in Chiang Mai!
11 night retreat cost:
Double Occupancy in Chiang Mai plus volunteer rooms at ENP: $2395 per person
Single Occupancy in Chiang Mai plus volunteer rooms at ENP: $2895
* we have 2 rooms still available and one female in need of a roommate!
If you place a deposit, the balance due will be set to charge in equal installments starting the month after deposit through December 2022, unless other arrangements are made.
In the unlikely case of cancellation by One Yoga Global due to insufficient enrollment or logistical problems (acts of God, war, strikes, etc.) that may impede trip operations, please refer to the policies outlined in the more detailed application and liability waiver provided upon reservation. Participants will be required to sign the application and liability waiver to participate on this trip.
We HIGHLY recommend that you consider purchasing Travel Insurance. Travel insurance companies like TRAWICK INTERNATIONAL and TRAVEL GUARD offer policies that insure your investment in case you need to cancel (including “cancel for any reason” coverages), coverages for expenses incurred due to to weather & travel delays, personal property loss and emergency travel medical. Please review policies carefully to choose the coverage you need.
We recommend that you consider purchasing trip insurance to protect your investment. Trawick International and Travel Guard are two providers that we recommend. Please review policies carefully to ensure they provide the coverage you need.