Yoga reportedly originated in India more than 26,000 years ago, but it is only now catching on in Cambodia. Its physical and mental benefits are now widely recognised among Westerners, and it is mainly foreigners who got it going in Cambodia. But just because they started it doesn’t mean that Cambodian youth can’t reap the benefits and enjoy a more peaceful life with the help of yoga.
Suy Ravuth, a physical therapist at the Naga Clinic, says yoga is a great way to relieve stress. “After working or sitting for several hours, yoga can help improve flexibility,” he said. “It is great for our health.”
Isabelle Skaburskis, a director and therapist at Nataraj yoga, said the benefits of yoga range from physical to emotional benefits. “It increases circulation, tones your muscles, builds bone density and increases flexibility, which helps in circulation.” She also added that doing yoga can provide emotional benefits, making practitioners more aware of their body and emotions. “More people are starting to know what it is. When I talk to people on the street, some have heard about it and some have read about it, but everyone is curious to try it,” she says.
Lun Piseth started working at Nataraj as an administrator, but the 23-year-old couldn’t resist trying it out himself once he saw it. “I saw students going up to the classroom and I was curious,” he explained. After two years he is a convert. “It can change a person’s attitude,” he said. “I understand what is going on inside me and it keeps me healthy and allows me to deal with my emotions peacefully.”
But don’t expect to feel the benefits immediately. Ly Srey Nich’s experience is common among beginners. “I thought ‘what is this sport and why do I have to bend and hurt myself’?” she says, describing her first attempt to do yoga. After a while, Srey Nich said she realised that yoga teaches persistence. “I may not be able to do a certain pose the first time, but if I keep on trying, I can.”
Try yoga yourself and carry this can-do attitude with you in life. You will feel like there is nothing you can’t accomplish.