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A mindful traveler's blog

Written & Photographed by Rae Bu Luck


Hai Phong, Vietnam // Royal Yoga Shala

Updated: Jan 12, 2023

Pack Light, Be Light // Global Authentic Yoga & Mindful Travel Experiences

Blog Entry 002 // by Rae Bu Luck @Namastrae @InnerHighYoga

For many, traveling to a new country with a foreign language can be intimidating.

Thanks to Sanskrit, the ancient language often used in yoga class instruction,

as well as the ability to see and follow along, joining a yoga class somewhere

with a loving vibe and caring teachers can ease all of the stress and create lasting

memories for everyone involved.

My husband and I were the first ever foreign yoga students at Royal Yoga Shala in Hai Phong, northern Vietnam. A last minute change of travel plans, due to a natural disaster in Puerto Rico, landed us short-notice opportunity to study and do work-trade as Arts, Yoga & English teachers in northern Vietnam. We hadn't had any time to study the language prior to landing in Hanoi, and yet we learned as we lived and had a heart-felt and super rich experience. The mats were always set up for us, equally spaced. The yoga assists were careful and accurate. The sequencing was dynamic and never without some meditative stillness at the beginning and end of each practice. The yoga was fully wholistic; going beyond

asanas and pranayama, and being lived through the loving-kindness of the students and teachers at the shala.

Yoga Instruction 100% in Vietnamese

We purchased a month long class pack for the equivalent of $15USD each.

This allowed us to bicycle to the studio and take class, with mats provided,

3 times per week. Giang was our main teacher, and she started out each class with guided breathing and meditation, 100% in Vietnamese language. We both

found that with the repetition and guided movements we were able to pick-up

some of the language just by attending her classes. Everyone was super friendly

and often requested to take photos of us and with us, doing asanas, after class.

The sense of community and playfulness at this studio was abundant. Despite

speaking entirely different languages and being new comers, everyone made us

feel welcome and included; a vibe I can't say that every studio in the world has.

Just look how full of joy we are here!

Being Invited to Sing & Model at Royal Yoga's TET, Lunar New Year's Party

We began our yoga package here in early January and had no idea that the sense

of community, that was based around yoga, would extend into other art forms as well. My husband and I form the two core members of our band, Duzt.

When one of our slightly English speaking friends at the studio, Thu Thao, found this out, she informed the owner and we were asked to perform a song "Hello, Vietnam," at the Tet Lunar New Year Party on Jan, 27th, 2018. In Addition, a local fashion designer was planning a fashion show for the NYE celebration. She invited us to be the only foreigners, and the only couple, to model in this show. She impressively custom tailored traditional Vietnamese Ao Dai (Ow-Zai) for all of us models to strut the runway in. This was truly an honor and a unique cultural experience.

Practicing & Performing Yoga Choreography

with an all Vietnamese Yoga Troupe

In addition to singing and modeling at the TET celebration, we we're asked to

perform in choreographed yoga routine to music, for all of the guests at the party.

We attended regular practices on Jan. 27th, 2018 we performed our "yoga dance," in pairs to the song "Hello, from the other side." The dance included 2 other couples in our performance, partner yoga asanas and a superb vibe to ring in the lunar new year. There was also another supreme group of choreographed yoga performers, as well as some light-hearted games, belly dancing show, food and drinks and the traditional giving of "lucky money," after the performances.

A mega thoughtful going-away party in our honor

When it was finally time for us to leave after two months of living in Vietnam and move to Thailand, a surprise going-away party was thrown in our honor. We didn't know it was happening! One day after yoga practice, the shala became transformed into a dining room buffet. Seated on the floor in the customary manner, joyful and jolly students gathered to share one last meal together. This is one of the most welcoming communities we have ever been apart of. Most of the group consisted of women in their 30s-50s. However, there were a few men and some 20 somethings as well.We even ended up taking a beach day trip with one of them, Bui Hanh. We truly feel thankful that our manager at our Hai Phong teaching job, Trang Pham, introduced us to this beautiful community. They truly embodied what it means to be yogis; welcoming, kind, caring, dedicated and full of love to share. Thank you so much to Royal Yoga, Hai Phong. You remain in our hearts and we plan to return to practice with you someday. Namaste.

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