Coronavirus Crisis Strands Model Valentina Zelyaeva on Thai Yoga Retreat (and She Couldn’t Be Happier)

by Eddie Roche

In today’s installment of “Cabin Fever Diaries,” we check in with Women Management model, Valentina Zelyaeva, who has arguably the most fascinating self-isolation story we’ve come across yet. What we wouldn’t do to be in her shoes right now! 

Where are you right now and who you are you with?
I’m in Koh Samui, Thailand. I came here a little over 2 months ago by myself from New York.  I came here to attend a retreat lead by Artur Sita with about 100 other people. During this time we are getting to know each other on a deeper level because we see each other every day during our gatherings, which are a part of  the retreat. We all meditate together, we have our meals together, we see each other at the smoothie bar or while having our morning coffee. During this time, I’ve connected with a lot of different types of people and I definitely learned a lot about myself. I faced things that I didn’t have a courage to face before. I’m learning to observe myself in different situations without self-criticism. I have to admit that the place where I’m spending my quarantine is a gift of life. I’ve been on a path of self-discovery since I took my first yoga class 15 years ago. Looking back, even less than a year ago, I was in the worst place of my life mentally and emotionally. Today, I find myself surrounded by likeminded people. Meditation has become my reality. I’m having fruits and veggies all day long. I’m by the ocean and I wake up every day feeling grateful and peaceful.

How long were you supposed to be on this retreat for and how long do you anticipate you’ll be there for?
One retreat is about 10 days. But when I arrived here at the end of January I already knew that I wanted to stay for 2 months, attending all the retreats and immersing myself completely. I had plans to return to New York on April 1st. On March 31, the last retreat was supposed to be finished and Artur Sita (who puts on the retreats) had plans to return to Russia to continue his retreats in Moscow and other cities. But when the quarantine happened he and people who happened to be here weren’t able to return home, so Artur decided to extend his retreats until the quarantine ends and the boarders open, which no one knows when that that will be. I’ll be here till the end of April for sure and maybe even longer.

Valentina Zelyaeva (Courtesy)

Wow! Being away from home for so long, your daily routines must be completely different.  
My skincare routine is very basic nowadays. Also my diet is different. I’m vegetarian, but I’m basically on a mango diet these days, which is awesome.

What do you miss most about life before the quarantine?
I’m very grateful to be where I am right now. Not many people have access to the beach or to fresh tropical fruits like I do now. I find myself in a total bliss being in a present moment. I don’t really miss anything from my life before the quarantine. I’m very thankful to life events that led me to where and with whom I’m spending my quarantine time.

How are you staying active? Lots of yoga, we assume.
I wake up at 6am. I do some yoga asanas outside while listening to the birds. Then, I go to the ocean for a swim and to enjoy the sunrise. I help around the resort property where I’m staying by watering the grass and trees and I care for the plants.

Valentina Zelyaeva (Courtesy)

And you’re blogging, right?
I’ve found myself blogging more about the importance of ac plant-based diet and meditation, which is so important always, but especially now. I share my journey with everyone and I hope to inspire others to be a little healthier physically, mentally, and spiritually.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve found yourself doing since isolating?
Skinny dipping and learning Thai.

Valentina Zelyaeva (Courtesy)

What do you want to do when this is all over?
I want to learn to make a coconut veggie curry like the ones I’ve tasted here in Thailand. I’m hoping to make it as delicious as it tastes here.

How has the experience changed your outlook?
I have no fear and worries about the future because I’m learning the skill of living in a present moment. I now have a total trust in life. Artur Sita’s retreat is all about that. He shows that door inside you which you open yourself — the door to love and total trust.

What has been the most surprising thing about this whole experience for you?
I found myself very peaceful, grounded, and in total harmony with myself in the midst of the biggest challenge that the Earth, people, and all the living creatures are going through right now.

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1 comment

George Wayne April 9, 2020 - 6:34 PM

So she is stuck on some exotic island enrapt in a yoga cult led by some shaman by the name of Artur Sita….hmmmmm!
The cult of personality…hmmmm….a never-ending dynamic – it seems……


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