Originally from Seattle, American-born Adrian Cox began his career in IT but a “fortunate” series of events resulted in his moving to Thailand and opening Yoga Elements Studio on Sukhumvit Soi 13.
What brought you to Thailand?
My first trip was because I liked Thai food and had some convenient leave time from the company I was working for. On that trip I had met someone who told me about Vipassana meditation and the intensity of the idea fascinated me. I came back a second time for a ten day retreat, and whilst in meditation I had a vision to change my life in some major ways—the main theme being to open a yoga studio and teach yoga. At the time, I was working as a computer engineer so it was a bit of a departure. I returned to New York, quit my job, started taking a yoga teacher training programme. A few months later, I left the United States behind for good, went to live in an ashram in India for five months, another ashram in Nepal for a few months, and then set up in Thailand shortly after.
How did you decide on the location of the studio?
It was so much flying by the seat of my pants. I found a place because I saw a sign in English “office for rent”, got a logo because a friend offered one, and bought a phone on the day we opened. Yoga Elements has always been guided by my passion for the practice—business skill second. That has allowed me to stay viable in a mid-level market. Many other studios have come and gone over the years, perhaps because the owners lacked the passion. Yet my prioritizing of the art of the topic over the business has not always made it easy to expand beyond a certain size either.
What are some of the unique things Yoga Elements offers?
We have always focused on high standards – the trainers we bring in are going to be some of the best teachers in the field. Our training programmes are aimed at developing high competence in teaching, not just handing out certificates.
For someone who’s never tried yoga, what are the best reasons to do so?
There are many clinical studies at this point showing how yoga has measurable positive benefits on health, wellbeing, emotions, mind, even relationships. The benefits are tangible yet it is so much more than what can be measured. If I had to put it in a few words, it’s about creating a better quality of life; more health, more energy, and even a more positive meaning in life. It does not come without practice however. Once you find a teacher you like, stick with it at least three times a week for a month and it will dawn on you how powerful the practice can be and how much more there is to go. It is an infinite subject.
How has yoga changed your own life?
I found my purpose, quit my previous career, improved my health, and found a path with meaning and heart. I still struggle like everyone else but I have a place of healing respite within when everything seems like it is breaking down, and it is free and accessible. I will practice the rest of my life, I am quite sure.
Do you think you’ll stay in Bangkok?
Well, it’s a strange feeling to belong to a place that I have to ask permission to stay in each year. It can never fully be home for that reason yet, I’ve lived nearly half of my life in this crazy city. I really want more green, and sidewalks, and better air at some point. The plan I have is to move to Japan in the next few years, a place I have had a love for my whole life.
Where are some of you favourite spots to get a healthy meal?
I eat a lot of vegetarian South Indian food, and my favourite is Sri Ganesha on Sukhumvit Soi 13. Bangkok has amazing Japanese food too. For great soba one of my favourites is Mitsumori on Sukhumvit Soi 23. For vegan food my vote goes for May Veggie Home on Sukhumvit Soi 16.
What does the future hold?
Life rarely goes as we plan, but what I’m aiming for is an expansion of my own teachings via retreats, workshops, and trainings in a variety of places. If I do another studio, it may be in Japan and of a smaller scale. I really just want to focus on my own practice and teaching. This year I have several workshops and retreats coming up, including one on healing and another on correcting physical misalignments. I also am running a very special week-long yoga retreat in Chiang Mai with a hypnotherapist friend. We call it the ‘Yoga Sleep Temple’.