Meet our family of international volunteers, expert teachers and Khmer staff who make Tavoos home to travellers and locals.
MEET THE TAVOOS FAMILY
Director of Operations
While studying film & television production in Toronto, Canada at the age of 18, Amir got an opportunity to travel along with a group of volunteers to Sri Lanka and then Cambodia. From that moment he decided to dedicate his life to humanitarian work and wellness.
Amir spent majority two decades in the humanitarian sector being deployed to over 40 countries. Actively working in the field during some of the worst natural and man made tragedies, embedded with various agencies as team leader, water technician, as well as media producer.
All of these deployments were done as a volunteer, as Amir does not believe in getting paid for providing humanitarian assistance. During these years he ran his own media production company in Canada to earn a living.
Cambodia always had a special place in Amir’s heart. As he experienced a life in the middle of war during his childhood in Iran, he felt that Cambodians had the same resilience and passion to rebuild as Amir had seen with Persians.
In 2015, he decided to sell everything he had in Canada and relocate to Cambodia and fulfil a promise he had made himself many years before; to set up ventures which would provide 100% of their income to help rebuild lives for Cambodian families.
Amir started Green Leaf Boutique Hotel with the help of his two friends, and soon after meeting Valentina on a trip back to Canada they decided to start Tavoos.
Yoga and meditation have helped Amir overcome his severe anxiety, depression and post traumatic disorder he developed during childhood in war, which then rapidly got worse during the years he spent being deployed to disaster zones worldwide. This is why he is so passionate about providing access to wellness to those who can’t afford it. As well as providing clean water wells for families in need.
Valentina has always had a passion for wellness, yoga and hospitality.
While living in Toronto, Valentina lived the same fast paced lifestyle as everyone else. Feeling stuck and full of stress. She spent her early 20’s receiving a degree in hospitality and then started to venture more into a corporate world as a makeup artist and consultant.
During these busy years, she needed an escape. This evolved into the healthy habit of daily yoga, meditation and clean eating. Valentina would see her colleagues in the busy industry she was in suffering from anxiety, lack of sleep and general un-wellness. She knew that there was more to life than climbing a corporate ladder.
When she met Amir, she was exposed to a new world of adventure and wellness. She wanted to take all of her expertise from hospitality and wellness, and combine them into a venture that soon became Tavoos.
Valentina decided to leave the life she had in Canada and say farewell to her friends and make the move to Cambodia to join Amir on a journey to providing wellness to guests from all over the world, as well as giving back to the local communities in Cambodia.
Valentina is a RYT200 and currently in the process of becoming a RYT500, as well as a licensed IYATA Yoga Therapist.
Follow Valentina on instagram @life.of.wellness
Labelled as the “hardest working man in Cambodia” Lin is co-owner of Tavoos and full time operations manager.
Lin lost both of his parents at a young age during the tragic Khmer Rouge genocide and its aftermath. He was then adopted by a kind Cambodian family who owned a guest house in Siem Reap.
Lin spent his teenage and early adulthood living and working in the guest house, as well as on farms. From time to time he would be able to attend school, but learned most of his skills meeting with international travellers visiting Siem Reap.
Lin saved up his money and went to University to earn a bachelor degree in Business Administration. While still working at the guest house he grew up at, he met Amir back in 2010 when Amir had brought a team of volunteers to Siem Reap. They bonded on the same passion they had, which was providing aid to Cambodian families.
Lin spent a lot of his time volunteering for Amir’s projects, as well as other NGO teams that would visit Siem Reap. When Amir moved to Cambodia to start Green Leaf Boutique Hotel with his friends, they invited Lin to join them and operate the hotel.
Soon after, Lin was invited to become a partner in Tavoos as well, which has allowed him to grow his passion now for Yoga and wellness.
Tavoos would not be what it is today, if it wasn’t for the hard work and dedication that Lin and his Khmer team have put into it on a daily basis.
Yoga Teacher Trainer
Laurie ‘ Lady Yoga’ Searle is a Certified Yoga Therapist (IAYT). She has been teaching yoga, fitness training (NASM), massage therapist and ayurvedic lifestyle coach for almost two decades.
Laurie also leads teacher trainings nationally & internationally through her school, Firefly Yoga & Massage & is the founder of F.E.D. Fight Eating Disorders,a 501(c)(3) non-profit. Offering assistance for those suffering from eating disorders (fighteatingdisorders.org).
Based in Santa Monica, CA, she is a journalist, actor and creator/writer of the comic strip and animations of Lady Yoga, Superhero (LadyYogaSuperhero.com) and the host of ‘Yoga Quickies’ on YouTube
Director of YTTC
Madhav is an Indian yoga teacher who is born and raised in a traditional way. The yogic traditions that go to back to the ancient times are something he learned throughout childhood as part of his heritage.
He has vast education and experience in fields related to yoga such as Philosophy, Sanskrit, Hindi, Yoga Therapy, Ayurveda, Pranic Healing, Reflexology and a Masters Degree in Yoga and Meditation.
Madhav has traveled and worked with students all over the world and is especially known for his Teacher Training role as a lead teacher in Yoga Ashram, India. In his teachings, he deeply focuses on passing the ancient truth and traditions of yoga while maintaining a modern approach by guiding students by developing self discipline in areas such as spirituality, mental strength, physical movement and awareness.
Madhav has been the director of Tavoos Yoga Teacher Training Programs since 2018.
Nia Dance Teacher
Debbie-Lee van Ginkel (from South Africa) is passionate about movement and its role in self-healing, and is dedicated to educating and empowering people to take charge of their own holistic and sustainable fitness.
She first discovered Nia in a rehabilitation and addiction centre, where she was being treated for anorexia nervosa and exercise addiction. After years of waging a war with her body, she found pleasure, joy and self-healing in the practice of Nia, and fell in love with the practice in the first class.
Soon after, she took her White Belt Nia training in Cape Town in 2008 to become a certified Nia instructor and has been teaching regular Nia classes in Beijing (where she was living as an expatriate) ever since. She has also presented workshops and seminars on Nia in various settings, including corporations, schools and drug rehabs . As an international school teacher, she incorporates her knowledge and expertise in holitsic movement into her teaching of children.
Debbie leads regular classes, workshops and retreats in China, South Africa, and now Siem Reap, where she currently resides.
Sponsor & Founding Member
Dean is a dedicated father and a paramedic with the city of Toronto.
He has always had a passion for helping others. And if being a paramedic is not enough dedication to helping others, in Dean’s mind, extending your skills oversees should do it.
During his off days as a medic, Dean has spent the past decade being a volunteer with one of the largest Search and Rescue teams in Canada.
Several years back, Dean met Amir during an international deployment and soon they became friends. Dean travelled to Cambodia as part of one of his volunteer trips and soon felt the same love for Cambodia and its people as everyone else feels when they visit the country.
Dean has spent the past few years dedicating whatever free time he has building training courses for the Angkor Children’s Hospital in Siem Reap. As well organising trips to Cambodia to dig water wells.
When Dean heard about the Tavoos venture, he immediately wanted to get involved and sponsor the startup of this social venture.
Sokchiet spent years working at a small guest house in Siem Reap as a cook. She has always had a passion to expand her knowledge in the culinary arts.
Sokchiet joined Tavoos since its start and has spent a lot of time taking courses to learn about different international menus, as well as dietary restrictions.
She takes health and wellness very seriously and has dedicated a lot of time educating her staff, as well as others in the community about healthy eating and providing safe options for guests with allergies and intolerances.
Sokchiet has three young children, and along with her husband they both are a dedicated part of the Tavoos family.
Sponsor & Founding Member
Damien is a father of two, and works in Toronto for a logistics company and does volunteer work for a local kids football team.
Damien has been friends with Amir since highschool and his sense of adventure grew as he would hear about humanitarian and Amir traveling the world.
Back in 2015 Damien decided to take a chance and travel to Cambodia to see what this country was all about because he has heard the wonderful stories from Amir. Damien was blown away with the culture, the people and the whole atmosphere of Cambodia. From what he saw in this beautiful country and what the intentions in the ventures he decided to support Amir in both ventures of Green Leaf Boutique Hotel and Tavoos.
Damien lives a fast paced life in Toronto working and always on the go with his kids but he has found that Yoga and wellness have been able to bring a balance to his life.
He supports Tavoos on a daily basis by providing administrative and marketing support during his time off and he also travels back to Cambodia to oversee the operations.
SAN KIM SEAN
San Kim Sean (born March 24, 1945) is a martial artist living in Asia. He is often referred to as the father of modern Bokator and is largely credited with reviving the art.
San Kim Sean is the founder of the Cambodia Bokator Federation and the Cambodia Bokator Academy.
The term Bokator translates as pounding a lion from the words bok meaning to pound and tor meaning lion.
At the time of the Pol Pot regime (1975–1979) those who practiced in traditional arts were either systematically exterminated by the Khmer Rouge, fled as refugees or stopped teaching. After the Khmer Rouge regime, the Vietnamese occupation of Cambodia began and native martial arts were completely outlawed.
After the Pol Pot era, San Kim Sean had to flee Cambodia to the United States under accusations by the Vietnamese of teaching hapkido.
Once in America, San Kim Sean started teaching hapkido at a local YMCA in Houston, Texas and later moved to Long Beach, California. After living in the United States and teaching and promoting hapkido, San Kim Sean decided to return to Cambodia to revive Bokator. San Kim Sean left the United States in 1992 and returned home to give Bokator back to his people.
In 2001, San Kim Sean moved to Phnom Penh and after getting permission from the new King Norodom Sihanouk to begin teaching Bokator to the local youth. That same year in the hopes of bringing all of the remaining living masters together San Kim Sean began traveling the country seeking out Bokator lok kru, or instructors, who had survived the Khmer Rouge regime. The few men San Kim Sean found were old, ranging from sixty to ninety years of age; many were afraid to teach the art of Bokator openly. After much persuasion and with government approval, San Kim Sean effectively reintroduced Bokator to the Cambodian people
Grounds Keeper & Transportation
S.B. has been a part of the Tavoos family since its inception. He shares three beautiful children with our Check Sokchiet and spends his time nurturing the beautiful plants and flowers in the Tavoos Garden.
S.B. is also in charge of our transportation department to ensure all guests are picked up on time and driven around safely.
If you attend any of our wine & painting nights, you will have the pleasure of learning art from Hom Rith.
Hom Rith is from the province of Kampot in Cambodia. He is an artist with various skills such as water color, Acrylic and oil painting.
He started learning about painting since 2006 and started his professional career as an artist and teacher in 2008. He is an expert in traditional Khmer art and spends his free time volunteering as an art teacher in public schools.
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#25, Group 4, Vihear Chin Village,
Svay Dangkum Commune,
Siem Reap, 17252
© 2020 Tavoos Yoga Cafe & Wellness Center. All Rights Reserved.
Tavoos B.V. – KvK: 75619857
IBAN: NL21BUNQ2036601405 BIC/SWIFT: BUNQNL2AXXX
TAVOOS IS A YOGA ALLIANCE© REGISTERED SCHOOL, AS WELL REGISTERED UNDER THE CAMBODIA KUNBOKATOR FEDERATION.
mon-fri: 07.00 – 22:00
sat: 07.00 – 21:00
+855 (0)96 375 3273