Luxurious Magazine’s Sabi Phagura speaks to Justine Capdevielle, the resident yoga teacher at Thailand’s luxury boutique residence, The Sarojin – Khao Lak Resort.
Some of life’s situations are beyond the control of individuals, and Coronavirus is one such example. It has generated anxiety and depression and left many of us feeling hopeless in the face of a global pandemic. And as we were advised to remain calm while staying alert, most of us turned our focus and attention towards eating well and exercising.
As a result, we began to see a massive shift in the way we exercise, as numerous trainers and teachers took to video sharing apps like Zoom to encourage us to exercise from the comforts of our home. In such fashion, the popularity of virtual yoga went through the roof, as the practice was brought to our screens from yogis across the world.
Luxurious Magazine: With so many people turning to yoga online to keep fit, why did you think it was important to launch live Zoom classes?
Justine Capdevielle: I’m someone who really enjoys connecting with people, and I like to feel the energy and company of the students in my class. In this situation, where we have to keep a safe distance, for now, I wanted to maintain that connection and provide those nice ‘live’ moments whilst ‘transporting’ students to the beautiful settings of The Sarojin in Khao Lak.
I felt it was important to not just show someone demonstrating asanas on screen but to provide more of an authentic group class experience where I interact with the students just like a real class.
LM: How important is yoga for one’s physical and mental wellbeing during this global pandemic?
Justine Capdevielle: I believe yoga is so important in everyday life, not just in this situation. Yoga and meditation practice has long been known to help physical and mental wellbeing, and now, during these difficult times, a lot more people have embraced the practice.
I always say that the mat is my mirror, so how I perform, move, react and breathe is exactly how I am in life. In situations like this, if people can train themselves to take the practices they learn on the mat into their daily life, such as self-love, compassion, patience and how to control the breath and stay calm before reacting, they can really enjoy the overall benefits the practice can offer.
LM: What style of yoga do you teach, and who are the classes suitable for?
Justine Capdevielle: I am certified in Hatha/Vinyasa yoga, but have also been a student of Kundalini yoga for many years. So, in many of my sessions, I combine a bit of this style – particularly into the meditations, as there are many that are very powerful and the results can be quite fast.
I am also certified in prenatal/postnatal yoga (which uses Yin yoga postures) and Rainbow Kids yoga (taught as Acro Yoga and family yoga), so my classes are suitable for all ages and skill levels. All that’s needed is a desire to have fun, connect with the body and to enjoy the journey.
LM: Where in the world are the yogis who take part in your classes?
Justine Capdevielle: Most of my students come from the UK, but there are also attendees from France, Sweden, Spain, Australia, Hong Kong, Austria, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Switzerland, Dubai and Israel. The classes have been super cosmopolitan, which I am very grateful for!
LM: Having joined you on the mat for a few sessions, we’ve noticed the practice closes with a meditation. How does that help the practitioner?
Justine Capdevielle: Almost all of my sessions end up with a short meditation session, as I believe all of the asanas and sequences we do in class are meant to open and balance the body and mind in preparation for meditation. At the end of the class, the body is in a perfect ‘condition’ to meditate before ‘Shavasana’ (deep relaxation), where the body, mind and soul are truly integrated together.
Providing this at the end of my classes gives me the chance to get my students into this habit, like a short taster for them to encourage them to get deeper into the meditation practice itself, which is so beneficial for the mind.
LM: We also joined in an EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique, also known as tapping) session in one of the classes. Could you briefly explain what that is, and how it can aid us in our day-to-day lives?
Justine Capdevielle: EFT is a form of psychological acupressure, based on the same energy meridians used in traditional acupuncture to treat physical and emotional ailments for over 5,000 years, but without the invasiveness of needles.
Instead, simple tapping with the fingertips is used to input kinetic energy onto specific meridians on the head and chest, while those practicing, think about their specific problem or negative emotion — whether it is a traumatic event, an addiction, pain, etc. — and voice positive affirmations.
EFT can help everyone in their day-to-day lives manage their emotional health, and I believe it should be integrated into our daily routines just as routinely as brushing our teeth or washing our face. Tapping is a great tool for those facing very difficult issues and challenges, as it can be easily integrated into almost anything, and is so effective and quick.
LM: Tell us about your own journey. What drew you to yoga, and how important is it to your own life?
Justine Capdevielle: Before becoming a yoga instructor, I studied tourism and spent a lot of time travelling around the world for work. I lived in many countries, including England and Dubai, before moving to Thailand, where I am now based. I started my journey to yoga and meditation when I first left my home country of Uruguay.
I was experiencing enormous changes in my life which made me feel sad and insecure, so I needed to find a way to feel safe in the world. My husband invited me to join him at a Kundalini yoga class, and I still remember all of the sensations and emotions I felt in that first session – I cried chanting the mantras!
The teacher was so wise, and her teachings have served me both in difficult times, and in those of pure and extreme happiness in my life, such as pregnancy, where I practiced yoga and meditation daily.
I followed the yoga practice for 15 years before discovering it on a deeper level, and it was then that I realised just how important it was for helping me to deal with my anxiety and stress. With that, I decided that I needed to dedicate myself to learning its teachings and spreading yoga to the world.
Even now, through yoga, I continue to learn more about myself and hope to keep on sharing it with wonderful beings I meet wherever I go. Now, I don’t even consider it a sport or a practice, but a lifestyle.
LM: With lockdown measures easing down a little, how is the future of The Sarojin looking currently?
Justine Capdevielle: Like many in the industry, The Sarojin has gone through an enormous change in the past couple of months, but the resort remains focused on ensuring the safety of its staff and when they are able to receive its guests.
For now, a small caretaking team remains at the resort, ensuring it’s looking as beautiful as ever for when the time is right to reopen. Along with the rest of The Sarojin team, I can’t wait to welcome people back to beautiful Khao Lak.
LM: Will you continue to offer Zoom classes once lockdown has ended?
Justine Capdevielle: Once lockdown is lifted, and travel resumes, if my regular students that have been joining the classes would like me to continue, then I will. It’s been great to be able to give them a sense of being on vacation from home, with The Sarojin providing fantastic backdrops, including its wonderful gardens, idyllic poolside and views overlooking the Andaman Sea.
I will certainly continue the classes for as long as people cannot travel to Thailand, and then when the time is right, I will restart my sessions in person at The Sarojin.
Justine Capdevielle At The Sarojin – Khao Lak Resort – Where and How?
If you too would like more calm and inner peace during these uncertain times, why not give Justine’s classes a go? Suitable for all skill levels, the 60-minute classes are streamed live via Zoom from The Sarojin’s grounds at 10 am (UK time) every Tuesday and Thursday.
Each class incorporates both Vinyasa and Kundalini yoga alongside meditation and mindfulness techniques to relax the body and soothe anxiety. Classes cost £8.75 to join, but Justine is offering the first class for free to all that reference ‘The Sarojin’ in their booking.
To sign up for the classes and claim the free session, attendees should contact Justine via Instagram (@justineinyoga), Facebook (@YogaKhaoLak) or WhatsApp (+66 626305271).
Read more yoga articles and guides in our dedicated health and fitness section here.