Sunday, February 16, 2020

My Experience at Blue Indigo Yoga Retreat Siem Reap

Blue Indigo Yoga Meditation Retreat Siem Reap

After two disappointing weeks at a yoga retreat in Phnom Penh, I moved to Blue Indigo Yoga Siem Reap, a small but lovely yoga and meditation retreat in Cambodia.

I felt much more comfortable at Blue Indigo so I ended up staying there for almost four months (from Oct-2019 till Jan-2020), working as a traveling yoga teacher.

Let me tell you the whole story.

My experience as a yoga teacher in Cambodia (vlog)

In the vlog you get to see a bit of Siem Reap and of Blue Indigo, but there are a lot of things I didn't mention.  So if you would like to know more about my experience and about Blue Indigo then you can continue reading below.

My disappointing experience in Phnom Penh

I was looking forward to that opportunity in Phnom Penh. I was planning to stay there for three months but as soon as I arrived I started to realize that it was not the right place for me.

Not really a yoga retreat

The problem was that it was not really a yoga retreat.

It was a resort offering yoga classes and retreat packages but at the same time, they would welcome guests that would come just to use the bar and the swimming pool.

They were also very popular among local families with children who had no interest at all in yoga.

So there was no sense of community or a yoga retreat vibe.

No more yoga retreat packages

But the real problem was that the management didn't care about offering a yoga experience to their guests anymore. They were having a sort of identity crisis. They were clearly confused about their target market.

Actually (I forgot to mention this in my video), just before I arrived they decided to cancel their online yoga retreat packages. They had a few bookings for the next two weeks but then, that was it.

So, what was I supposed to do after?

The previous yoga teacher was not happy with this situation so she decided to quit just before I arrived. She was my contact person and we were supposed to work together, but now I was on my own.

I was really surprised. I didn't know anything about what was going on at this resort before I arrived.

No yoga shala?

But I tried to adapt myself to make the best out of my stay there.

I focused on my practice and on giving the best experience I could to the few yoga retreat guests they still had.

It was not very easy though. They didn't even have a yoga shala.

Before going to this place I checked their social media and I could see their announcement about their new yoga shala.

But when I got there I realized that they never finished it. They had another space called “yoga shala” but it was a big mess.

It was very dirty, they had a bar, some chairs and a table around, it was full of mosquitoes en whenever it would rain it would get completely flooded.

The only other decent space they had was a hall just above the bar.

The problem was that you could often hear people talking loudly, playing music and drinking alcohol at the bar, or the children playing by the swimming pool.

Imagine trying to relax or following a guided meditation when you have children screaming and jumping in the swimming pool.

Believe me, it was not easy to teach in that environment. One day I had to end the class earlier because of the children.

Obviously, the yoga retreat guests were not happy with the situation.

No vegetarian food

On top of that, since this was not a yoga retreat but actually a resort, they had a mainly meat-based menu, a fusion of local and western food.

So you could also smell the strong smell of beef and pork from the kitchen, cooked in traditional Cambodian style, while practicing yoga.

Not very pleasant, at least not for me.

I think they had only three vegetarian items on their menu. Basically different types of salad.

To be honest I'm not really vegetarian. I eat from time to time fish, and rarely chicken, but even then, after only one week I was already bored with the food. I didn't know what to eat anymore.

And there was pretty much nowhere to go around since this resort was located far away from the center of Phnom Penh.

Obviously, because of all these reasons, I started searching for another yoga retreat in Cambodia almost right away, although mainly because of the food situation.

Searching for a yoga retreat in Siem Reap

I had heard many times about this yoga retreat in Siem Reap called Blue Indigo Yoga and Meditation Retreat Center.

I was curious about this place. One of my friends was actually one of their teachers at some point.

So I emailed them and asked if they needed another yoga teacher.

They took a long time to reply (almost two weeks) but as soon as I got their confirmation I booked a bus to Siem Reap. I left the very next day at 6 am. Lol.

That was perfect timing because it coincided with the last yoga retreat package they had at the resort in Phnom Penh.

Of course, I wouldn't have left before teaching the last yoga retreat.

Moving out of my comfort zone

If you've been following my journey you might know that this was not my first time in Siem Reap.

I taught before at another yoga retreat called Angkor Zen Gardens Retreat Center.

Unfortunately, they closed their doors.

I was really disappointed when I heard the news cause I really loved that place. If they were still open I would have definitely go back.

The good thing is that this pushed me to move out of my comfort zone and try something new.

My journey from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap

I was a bit anxious during the six-hour bus journey from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap.

You know, I didn't want to have another disappointing experience as I just had had in Phnom Penh.

But as soon as I arrived it all felt good.

I met the owner, Jean (Jan), by the gate. He was very friendly and welcoming.

He, and one of the teachers, explained everything to me. The next day I was already teaching meditation and hatha yoga.

Well, there was really not much to explain. Everything is very simple and easy going there.

Now, before telling you about my experience as a yoga teacher let me first tell you about this yoga retreat.

Blue Indigo Yoga and Meditation Retreat in Siem Reap

Blue Indigo garden

Blue Indigo Cottage Retreat Center (aka Blue Indigo Yoga Siem Reap, Blue Indigo Yoga and Meditation Retreat Center or Blue Indigo Yoga Retreat) is a small yoga retreat near the center of Siem Reap.

It was started in 2014 by Jean-Yves, a meditation teacher, massage therapist, and photographer originally from France.  He is also co-founder and director of the Angkor photo festival.

Since Blue Indigo is near the city center, this means that you can easily walk to the town and many local restaurants, but at the same time, you live in a relatively quiet and peaceful environment.

I say relatively quiet cause you are away from the main road, in a peaceful garden but you are still in the city.

During my stay sometimes you could hear constructions going on in buildings nearby. This was a bit distracting during the classes.

On rare occasions, you could also hear a local wedding.

So don't expect a completely quiet environment. You would need to look for a yoga retreat far away from the city for that.

I think this yoga retreat is ideal if you want to be able to explore the city, visit the Angkor temples and at the same time live in a community of like-minded people eager to learn yoga.

But you need to remember that this is still a yoga retreat.

They have the policy to close the doors at 10 pm. I guess this is to avoid the temptations of the nightlife in Siem Reap. So whenever you go out for dinner you need to make sure to come back on time.

It is not a five-star resort

Blue Indigo retreat garden

One TripAdvisor review says, “It's NOT the Holiday Inn. If you need a North American style bug sterile bug free environment, Blue Indigo is not the place for you.”

I couldn't agree more. Blue Indigo Yoga Retreat is certainly not a luxury resort. It is a small yoga retreat with simple facilities and a truly beautiful garden.

They have a few cozy wooden cottages.  They look a little bit like those Japanese style rooms.

They are comfortable, with a lot of natural light, but with very thin walls. So don't expect much privacy here or sound insulation. Make sure you bring some earplugs.

Blue Indigo Cottages

Blue Indigo Cottage Inside

Blue Indigo Cottage Inside

They also have one female dorm for four people. It is a bit dark but it has AC, which is sometimes so much needed in Cambodia.

A beautiful garden, but...

Blue Indigo Garden

There is a price to pay to live surrounded by that beautiful garden...


There are a lot of mosquitoes, and I really mean a lot. You need to wear mosquito repellent all the time, especially during meal times when you are sitting at the dining table in the garden.

I hate to use mosquito repellent, but since these little bloodsuckers love my blood I have no choice. Natural repellents don't do the work for me. I need the real stuff.

Now, I was probably the one person complaining the most about the mosquitoes. Actually, I never heard a guest complaining.

Of course, every room has a mosquito net for each bed. So you can be sure you'll be able to sleep at night.

Why people love Blue Indigo Yoga Retreat

All this might sound not that exciting but you would be wrong to think that. People do love Blue Indigo Yoga Retreat.

All the yoga retreat guests I met seemed to be really happy during their stay. Some people kept extending their stay day after day. I actually met a few guests that stayed for a month, and some even longer.

And when their time came to leave they would do it reluctantly, wanting to extend their stay for even a few more days.

I guess this is mainly because of three things.

The wonderful small community feeling that is created by both, the residential yoga teachers and the guests, the variety of yoga classes, and the delicious vegan food.

It was always a bit sad to see some people leave after they've been around for several days or weeks.

Dining table

Yoga classes at Blue Indigo in Siem Reap

yoga hall

The yoga retreat guests' backgrounds are very diverse. They come from different countries, they are of all ages and they have different levels of experience.

Some guests are experienced yogis but the majority are usually beginners or just starting with yoga.

This means that the classes are normally open classes for all levels. The teachers adjust the practice according to the level of the group at any particular time.

The yoga teachers are usually traveling yogis. Some teachers might stay for several months and some others just for a few weeks.

They are all certified of course, and each one has their own unique style and level of experience.

The daily schedule includes five yoga classes per day

07:00 to 08:00 Hatha Yoga
08:00 Breakfast
10:00 to 11:00 Meditation/Pranayama
12:00 to 13:00 Flow/Vinyasa
13:00 Lunch
17:00 to 18:00 Aerial Yoga
18:15 to 19:15 Restorative Yoga/Yin Yoga

On the weekends the schedule changes a little bit to include a small excursion with a yoga class at a temple outside of the city.

The classes are open not only for the retreat guests but also for outside visitors. Visitors need to buy a day pass, weekly pass or a monthly pass.

The most popular class is usually the flow class at midday.

Blue Indigo also offers 200 Hours Hatha Yoga and Aerial Yoga Teaching Training courses.

Delicious homemade vegan food

vegetarian and vegan food

People really like the food there. You can often hear people's excitement when you are sitting by the table.

They serve delicious homemade vegan food.

I say homemade because that's how it feels. The lovely staff working in the kitchen really put their heart into it. They often surprise you with dishes you had not seen before, and their food is usually very colorful and really tasty.

The breakfast is pretty much the same every day but it is plentiful. A small glass of ginger-lemon for detox, a bowl of fruits, a small glass of fresh fruit juice, local bread and a large verity of homemade jams.

Although the food is normally vegan they also offer butter and a tiny bit of white plain yogurt during breakfast.

Lunch normally starts with a salad and then a buffet-style all-you-can-eat main course.

vegetarian and vegan food

I was there for almost four months and I can tell you, I never got bored with the food. And believe me, I can be quite picky. Lol.

Compare this to my experience at the resort in Phnom Penh. After only one week I didn't know what else to eat. So glad I found Blue Indigo. Lol.

The only problem that I had at Blue Indigo is that they don't offer dinner. That's to give the opportunity to the guests to explore the many different restaurants nearby.

As a residential yoga teacher I would have preferred to have dinner at “home,” but it was also all right to go out.

My experience as a yoga teacher at Blue Indigo.

As you might have guessed, I had a great time as a yoga teacher at Blue Indigo. Everything was very easy and relaxed. There is no pressure with anything.

To put things in perspective.  I had a gym, a swimming pool and a nicer room at the yoga retreat in Phnom Penh, but in the end, I felt much better at Blue Indigo.

The daily schedule is shared among the different yoga teachers. I was teaching one or two classes per day with one day off during the week. On a few occasions, I had to teach three classes per day.

I was teaching either hatha yoga at 7 am, the meditation class at 10 am or the flow class at 11 am.

I'm a morning person so I was really happy with that. The hatha class was originally at 6:30 am, for one and a half hours. I actually preferred that.

I had the rest of the day after lunch to focus on my other projects like updating this blog and editing my videos.

The yoga teachers usually stay at the dorm, share a cottage or use one basic room that is dedicated for yoga teachers.

I sort of liked that room. It looks like a beach cabana with an open-air bathroom.

The problem is that the room is completely inhabited by mosquitoes. Believe me, I've never seen so many mosquitoes in my life. And it can also get intolerable hot during the day.

But I didn't spend much time in my room.

During the mornings I was either teaching or practicing, and in the afternoon I would go to one of the many local cafes to do my online work.

Blue Indigo Yoga Retreat: Summary

If you are looking for a budget yoga retreat in the center of Siem Reap from where you can easily explore this little town and also visit the Angkor temples, then I think you'll love Blue Indigo.

They have delicious vegan food, a nice community feeling (during the high season) and a large variety of classes during the day.

But be aware that it is not always quiet around. Make sure you bring some earplugs and a good mosquito repellent.

Blue Indigo contact details

If you would like to view more pictures, send them an inquiry or book a retreat you can visit Blue Indigo Cottage Retreat Center.

This is an affiliate link. If you book a retreat using that link you'll be supporting me to continue sharing my path via a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support.

Otherwise, you could just visit their website.

Blue Indigo Yoga Retreat
Psa Gney Market
Krong Siem Reap 12203
Kingdom of Cambodia

phone +855 97 51 43 390
You can find their exact location in google maps here.

Before you go

Don't forget to watch the vlog version. It is very brief, and you get to see a bit of Siem Reap and of Blue Indigo.

If you like the video don't forget to give it a like and to subscribe to my youtube channel.

Have you ever visited Blue Indigo Yoga Siem Reap before? Please feel free to share your experience in the comments below.

1 comment: