I sat in awe on the comfortable back seat of a delightful little tuk-tuk as I was driven around the magnificent ancient ruins on an Angkor Wat tour guide. As we whizzed around the temple grounds in the scorching heat, the refreshing breeze helped to cool off the sweltering midday sun. In total, I spent six days visiting Siem Reap, getting every Cambodia yoga photo Angkor Wat. Within which, every day felt as magical as the other.
Although I love to explore and discover new destinations and sights around the world, Siem Reap is definitely a place I would love to return to. There is something so uplifting and energising about the place, especially while walking and sitting around the temple grounds.
This article will cover the following:
- A short and sweet history on Angkor Wat…
- The Must-Visit Spots For Your Yoga Practice;
- Angkor Wat
- Ta Prohm
- Ta Nei
- Preah Palilay and its pagoda
- Preah Khan
- North Gate of Angkor Thom
- Bayon – Buddha faces
- Book a Wellness Retreat in Siem Reap
- Additional extras
A short and sweet history on Angkor Wat…
Angkor Wat translates to ‘City Temple’ and was built in the 12th century by the king of the Khmer empire, as a royal temple dedicated to his religion, Hinduism.
After the city of Angkor fell to invaders, Angkor Wat diminished into the thick jungle growth. By the 14th century, the temples had changed to Buddhism and you can still see the outline of Buddha carved over the old Hindu Shiva Carvings.
The “lost city” of Angkor Wat is the best-preserved example of Khmer architecture in Cambodia and is so grand in design that some rank it among the Seven Wonders of the World. It is even featured on the Cambodian national flag!
The Must-Visit Spots For Your Yoga Practice;
I have written a list in order of the top places to visit at Angkor Wat to find tranquil spots to meditate in the magic of the temple grounds. You can also find the perfect photo and video opportunities using these must-visit areas to capture for the memory bank.
Need inspiration? Copy my poses in the following images! I chose authentic ‘ancient temple’ Camodian themed yoga poses that seemed very appropriate for a visit to the Angkor Wat temple grounds.
Watch the video I created below of some of my yoga practice at the temples of Angkor Wat;
1. Angkor Wat at sunrise
Angkor Wat is the main temple of all the temples in the area. It has two beautiful ponds in front of it, and is surrounded by fresh grass and mysterious jungle nature. You are certain to find a quiet piece of grassland, away from the crowds.
Roll out your yoga mat for some much-needed morning sun salutations or a peaceful meditation practice to energize you for the rest of your day.
The Flying Lizard Pose (Sanskrit: Uttana Prasithasana) seemed a very apt yoga asana to do in Cambodia. You will certainly see many ghekko’s/ lizards during your time here. They are great to have in the bedroom, especially when sleeping in the jungle as they keep all the creepy crawlies away!
Warrior III Pose (Virabhadrasana III) is also very fitting for the wonderful temple grounds. You can imagine the ancient battles that occurred here as you find the strength to balance in this asana.
Please note: Timing is key!!!
Do: go visit the main Angkor Wat temple before sunrise when it’s cooler and to beat the crowds. The lighting and conditions at sunrise are way more comfortable and beautiful than at sunset.
Don’t: Be a sheep and follow the crowds. Instead, find your own hidden corners of the temple and speak to locals to find the best-kept quiet areas to watch the Angkor Wat sunrise over the temples and the best route to avoid the crowds!
2. Yoga Cambodia: Ta Prohm
Famous for being swallowed by giant trees, Ta Prohm is the ultimate Tomb Raider fantasy.
It was built in the Bayon style in the late 12th and early 13th centuries and was originally called Rajavihara. It is located approximately 1 km east of Angkor Thom and on the southern edge of the East Baray (a large holy reservoir).
Again, it is better to get there early, as soon as it opens, in order to beat all the crowds and find that perfect quiet spot for a yoga and meditation practice among the natural beauty and ancient ruins.
I personally found a hidden corner and practiced Standing Archers Pose (Akarna Dhanurasana). I could imagine the inhabitants of these temples many years ago with their bow and arrows, protecting their land from invaders.
3. Yoga Cambodia: Ta Nei
Ta Nei is located near the northwest corner of the East Baray. Built during the reign of King Jayavarman VII, this small jungle temple was dedicated to the Buddha.
Both times I visited the temple there were no other tourists around. There is a lovely green area within the temple where I suggest you to practice yoga.
The peaceful quietness makes the location a perfect spot for meditation too. Walk around the temple grounds to find beautiful apsara and lintel carvings which are still in excellent condition. These make beautiful spots for photo or video opportunities.
Lizard Pose (Utthan Pristhasana) – The fallen down rubble of the temple walls gave me the idea of perching on top in a lizards pose, just like a lizard would do basking in the sun! As I have mentioned earlier, there are many lizards in Cambodia so this asana is very appropriate to practice around the temples.
Flying Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Galavasana) because there are also many pigeons in Cambodia! 😉
4. Photo Angkor Wat: Preah Palilay and its pagoda
We made a short detour to this small Buddhist sanctuary in the wooded area north of the Royal palace in Angkor Thom, and it was well worth it!
We managed to witness a water blessing during our visit. However, even if there are not any blessings being practiced, there are so many attractive features to admire.
You can also ask for a blessing yourself, but be sure to offer flowers, fruit and incense, if you can, as a sign of respect.
It is lovely to walk around the pagoda and within the jungle. You may discover more hidden temple treasures. On my personal wanders through the grounds, I came across a monk on his way to the pagoda too.
5. Yoga Cambodia: Preah Khan
Preah Khan was built in the 12th century for King Jayavarman VII to honor his father. It is located northeast of Angkor Thom and just west of the Jayatataka baray, with which it was associated.
The ornate and ancient carvings and colourful ageing of the brickwork is absolutely stunning. There are many hidden areas here where you can find peace and tranquility for your meditation or yoga practice.
Crow Pose (Bakāsana) at Preah Khan to represent the gorgeous wildlife here!
Inside the temple ruins, there were a few dark hidden areas where you could find peace and tranquility to be at one with yourself.
I personally love to meditatively sit in Butterfly/ Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana) and focus on my breathing to relax the mind and increase my flexibility in this beautiful stretch.
6. Yoga Cambodia: North Gate of Angkor Thom
The North gate of Angkor Thom connects the walled city with Preah Khan and the temples of the Grand Circuit.
These splendid and immense gates full of incredible architectural design are best experienced while riding through on a bike or by tuk-tuk. You can really get a feel for how life was many years ago.
You can stop off here and climb up the side of the gate for a birds eye view of the temple grounds. Find a peaceful spot to sit and watch the many passer’s by riding through the gates and around the temples. It is a perfect spot for some mindfulness meditation!
7. Photo Angkor Wat: Bayon – Buddha faces
Many guides say that the smiling buddha faces are in the image of Avalokiteshvara; a mahayana buddhist (a person who is able to reach nirvana but delays doing so through compassion for suffering beings).
The smiles and closed eyes represent an all-knowing state of inner peace.
Again, you can climb up the side of the gate and watch the world go by in peace.
Around the gates, there are lots of jungle grounds full of lush vegetation. The natural beauty of the tree root formations is like art and a perfect place for a photo or video opportunity. In appreciation of the tree, what better than to practice a Tree Pose (Vrksasana) variation.
Extra Tips for Your Photo Angkor Wat Tour Guide Visit:
- Hire a Tuk-Tuk driver for the day – $20 US
- Purchase a 3-day ticket to the temples. You can use the ticket over a 10 day period and the cost of buying two separate one-day tickets is more expensive than buying a 3-day pass! Always remember to keep the ticket with you and in good condition (They ask to check your ticket often and will refuse any damaged ones)
- Take plenty of water to keep hydrated.
- Travelling solo? Invest in a tripod for your camera/ phone. You can even pick up a wide-angled clip-on lens for your smartphone to get more of the beautiful temples in the background of your yoga videos/ images.
- If spending a full day at the temples, take a 2-3 hour break to nap, grab a bite to eat (see my blog post on the best of authentic vegetarian Cambodian cuisine) and recharge your batteries for round 2! -both your filming equipment and your energy levels! 😉
- Wear greens/reds/creams/rusty orange and pinks to compliment the colors of the temples and to add a splash of style to your images and videos!
- Make sure you dress modestly around the temples as a sign of respect and keep your shoulders and knees covered.
- Planning to explore more of Siem Reap? Check out this travel guide: Things to do in Siem Reap.
Don’t forget to watch the yoga Cambodia video filmed within this majestic place. Watch how the jungle tree roots swallow the ancient temple ruins;
Book a Wellness Retreat in Siem Reap
There are many different wellness retreats available at Angkor Wat & Siem Reap, Cambodia, suited to different needs available here to give you an all-rounded experience of this beautiful and magical part of the world.
The following retreat is currently one of the best-selling retreats in Siem Reap;
What is great about retreats is that they build relationships with locals who help to organise and advise on the best experiences and places for customers.
I personally love being able to explore with the locals wherever I travel to! This is because you always get to see the more authentic and quieter treasures of the locations you visit.
While I was in Cambodia, a local photographer took us to all the ‘secret spots’ around the temple grounds away from the busy crowds. Without having booked him, our experience of the temples would not have been as magical and incredible!
For this reason, another retreat that caught my attention, is the yoga and photography retreat. These hybrid style retreats are perfect if you have more than one interest or if you are travelling as a couple or in a group, as they cater for more than one interest and hobby. Check it out below and don’t forget to pin it to your Pinterest board!;
Reiki is a style of meditative practice which helps to balance the chakras of the body and can also be used to help heal others. If you are interested in learning more about Reiki, I recommend reading my review on learning reiki.
The Ultimate Online Reiki Package is a 100% digital online course that you can access any time from any device.
Gain immediate access after you sign up.
You will receive:
- Unlimited access to the online video webcast which guides you through the complete Reiki Master Self-Attunement Ceremony, so you just can’t go wrong.
- Unlimited access to the monthly Reiki Master Distance Attunement Ceremony which absolutely guarantees you’ll be fully attuned as a Chikara-Reiki-Do, Usui and Tibetan Reiki Master, because you and I do it together.
- An online copy of the bestselling 173 page e-book, Radical Reiki – Radical Life, which tells you, in great detail, everything you need to know about Reiki, self-attuning and how your life actually works.
- Two videos showing you exactly how to carry out the Chikara-Reiki-Do and Usui Reiki Master Attunement Ceremonies for others, so you’ll know exactly what to do to bring many more, much needed, Reiki Masters into the world today.
- Three professional, downloadable Reiki manuals (Reiki 1, Reiki 2 and Reiki Master) for you to print out and keep for yourself and/or give to your students.
- All certificates for you and all your students prepared by us, so you don’t have the fuss and bother of producing your own.
- 90 days back up and support to help you become the most powerful Reiki Master you could ever dream of becoming.
Today’s price: $97 USD / £70 GBP (I will update the price when this offer is no longer available)
7 Minute Mindfulness Meditation Practice:
One of the excuses that I often hear the most when it comes to starting mindfulness meditation, is TIME. People show interest in starting meditation, but they have such busy schedules that they never end up making the time to practice.
Therefore, I wanted to share a great SHORT programme that has proven perfect for beginner’s!
For only 7 minutes of your time a day (coffee break? In bed before sleep? On the train commute?) you just plug in to one of the audio files of your choice and begin your meditation practice.
What’s more, with the programme there are two additional freebies thrown in to help assist you on your beginner’s mindfulness meditation journey.
Right now, you can get all of the following for a special early bird discounted price!
You will receive;
- 1 x Book Of Mindfulness Exercises
- 1 x Seven Minute Mindfulness Guidebook
- 1 x Mindfulness Audio Programme (containing 9 x 7 minute audio files);
- Track 1: Mind Body Relaxation – Tune your mind into your body, and release the tension in both.
- Track 2: Declutter and Create Space – Declutter your busy mind and create space to bring out your best self.
- Track 3: Turn Anxiety into Love and Joy – Gain mental strength when anxiety takes over your mind.
- Track 4: A Boat Ride of Calm – Follow the story as your mind goes on a relaxing and invigorating journey.
- Track 5: Three Part Breathing – Experience the traditional 3-part Yoga breathing technique that transforms your mind and body.
- Track 6: Rejuvinate Your Mind – Release the tension in your mind and rejuvinate.
- Track 7: A Tranquil Journey – Listen, follow the story, and wake up feeling relaxed and refreshed 7 minutes later!
- Track 8: Find Your Calm – Find your calm place and take whatever you need from 7 minutes of peace.
- Track 9: Delta Sleep Audio – Trigger your natural deep sleep cycle and drift off into a calm and restful sleep.
Early bird discount offer: $17/£12 (Full price: $49/£35) when bought today. I will update the price for you when the deal is no longer available!
Purchase this amazing package deal and start your mindfulness meditation practice right away!
Connect with Vibrant Yogini
Have you visited the Angkor War Temples? Where are your favourite spots? Write your suggestions or tips in the comments below or tweet to @vibrantyogini
Even better, if you are in Siem Reap and visiting the temples please take a photo and tag @Vibrant_Yogini Instagram or post to the Facebook page! I would love to see your stretches around Angkor Wat and show you some support!
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Wishing you happy and healthy adventures!
P.S. When you next visit the Angkor Wat temples in Siem Reap, Cambodia, keep a close eye out for the shiny stone parts of the beautiful temple architecture. It is said the rough stone surface became smooth and shiny from billions of hands touching the same part of the stone!