Valerie Jeremijenko is the owner of Ananda Yoga and Detox Centre and first came to Koh Phangan in 1990.
“I remember it distinctly – the very low key parties, the deserted beaches, the very rough roads. But mostly I remember it because I first started doing Yoga in Thailand that year. I was just working out of a book and touring around but that free exploratory yoga time was fundamental to my practice”.
After Thailand, Valerie went to India, and the rest as they say ‘is history’ – but for Valerie coming back here to the island represents a journey back to the beginning and she couldn’t be more excited about being here now to start a new phase of her life.
Valerie has been involved in yoga and running yoga studios since the mid-90s. She started her first full studio ‘Yama Yoga Studios’, in Doha, Qatar in 2007.
“We were the first full yoga studio in the middle east and had some interesting learnings and adaptations as we tried to introduce yoga within that context. But anyway although Yama Yoga Studios was successful with 2 studios in different parts of the town and over 70 independent contractor teachers (most of whom I had trained) as a mother and family woman I still had a full-time job as an educator at a university. I did know for a long time that when the kids were done with their education I would be moving on and my husband and I had started exploring options long ago. We’d looked at Zanzibar and India and many parts of Europe. We opened a summer retreat centre in Bulgaria, just outside of Veliko Tarnovo, but I wanted a year-round centre where I could share and develop programs”.
The couple started talking to Ananda in 2019. It was a very slow and steady process and Valerie is deeply grateful to Vangelos, the founder and past owner of the centre for the mentoring and care he provided to them over the past 2 years.
“Covid slowed our process down significantly but there was never a question of pulling out. Ananda is a wonderful centre that has served many people well and I am just excited to offer it a fresh outlook while building on all of its many obvious strengths”.
Valerie is Australian but has been an expatriate since the age of 23. She has lived in Japan, India, the US, the Middle East and Europe. As mentioned she has practised since the early 90s but professionally, she has worked in dance, arts administration, creative writing, and student development.
“I have always seen the work I have done in yoga as the flip side of the work I did with students. I focus on yoga studios as being places for self-development and community development. I ardently believe in service. Yoga, for me, is an educational art – specifically a self-educational art and I use all the educational tools I have explored over 25 years in university education to enhance the students learning experience as well as their learning environment. All of my teacher training programs focus on the concept of Svadhyaya – self-study”.
What will be the specific aspects you will change/evolve through your new ownership?
The detox program at Ananda Yoga and Detox is exceptional and I 100 per cent believe in the quality and integrity of this product. Again, I am deeply grateful to the previous owner and to our exceptionally talented staff for the work they have done here over the years.
I will obviously develop the yoga to be an inclusive and expansive program and invite everyone to come to check out our classes. Soon we will add Mysore, more afternoon workshops and a variety of continuing development programs. In my previous studios, I offered prenatal, yin, restorative, kids yoga, aerial, sup and Pilates teacher training in addition to yoga therapy, handstand, creative vinyasa workshops and a variety of CPD programs.
On a more prosaic level, we will renovate and renew the centre where needed and re-envision the restaurant. A big project we are currently working on is the space right across the road from us. My husband, Nigel, is heading up this. `
The Shell Beach Bar and Café should open in about 6 weeks. It will be open from early morning for post-yoga beach and coffee time and go into the evening. A main feature of the bar will be fine wines paired with vegan chocolate and cheese. As a wine connoisseur, Nigel is excited to share his wealth of information. A full menu will be available all day of course – more on that soon.
What makes Ananda unique to other centres on the island?
I love that Koh Phangan has a collaborative and sharing yoga community and I am looking forward to meeting everyone but I do think we have some unique features. First of all Hin Kong beach is such a special and unique location in and of itself. But apart from that, I do think that the rigour and integrity of our detox are unique. I also feel that under my guidance – with a strong ashtanga, Iyengar and Dharma background that the yoga will also reflect this.
Valerie Jeremijenko, PhD, MFA