Relax and Re-energise at Shreyas Yoga Retreat, Karnataka, India
Shreyas is an Ayurvedic yoga and wellbeing retreat in Karnataka, an hour by car from Bangalore. It’s a Relais & Chateau hotel offering all the benefits of a traditional ashram without the austerity associated with ashram life. It’s the place to go when you want to escape from daily life to focus on yoga and meditation and re-energize.
You start to relax on the drive to the retreat, as you pass through lush tropical vegetation and small farming communities, and that feeling of tranquility and calm continues throughout your stay.
Deep stillness in beautiful surroundings
The sense of peacefulness and deep stillness is in part due to the beautiful surroundings. The retreat is set in 25 acres of coconut plantation, frangipani trees and organic farmland. The only sounds are birds singing, the odd monkey chattering and frogs croaking in the evenings.
Shreyas is an Ayurvedic ashram. Ayurveda is an ancient Indian system of holistic medicine balancing mind and body through diet, yoga, meditation and herbal treatments. My stay began with a personal consultation with the on-site Ayurvedic and naturopathic doctors who created my agenda for the week based on my needs and the yoga package I had chosen.
Days start in traditional ashram style at 06.30am with one and half hours of yoga, either hatha or ashtanga depending on your ability. Practising yoga in the early morning in the yoga pavilion just as the sun is coming out and the ground is beginning to warm up is a wonderful way to wake up and start the day.
My yoga package included two group yoga classes a day, and five individual yoga sessions. The yoga is expertly taught in a disciplined, traditional, way and the teachers are inspiring.
After the intensity of the yoga sessions you can relax by the pool or book a treatment or massage at the Ayurvedic spa. Choose from Balinese, Thai, Swedish or Ayurvedic massages.
Time for introspection and reflection
Meditation is an integral part of the yoga package, something which is often overlooked in Western yoga. Classes include pranayama to regulate and extend breathing, yoga nidra, taking you into a deeper state of consciousness, candle meditation or trataka, which helps improve focus and concentration, and guided meditation. All these techniques aid relaxation and help create a sense of inner calm.
As well as seated meditation you can take a walking meditation in the grounds or find one of the hidden machans (above) in the organic gardens and spend time meditating there.
There are three types of accommodation: tented cabins with al fresco bathrooms, rooms by the infinity pool and three rooms in a separate cottage with a large lounge area.
All the interiors have an understated elegance, featuring natural colours and materials, which blend in with the surroundings. There is the odd splash of colour in the form of kantha cushions and large meditation bowls filled with floating roses or geraniums.
Delicious, nutritious, vegetarian meals
Shreyas is an ashram so the food is vegetarian and there is a a strictly no alcohol policy. The food is light, plentiful and delicious. Meals vary from Indian to Mexican to European and the ingredients are mainly sourced from the organic gardens. As part of my yoga package I had a cookery demonstration with Chef Mani and learnt how to make a nourishing spinach and cumin soup. You can find the recipe here.
The staff go out of their way to make each meal an experience. From the variety of dishes, to the floral table decorations, to the venue which changes every evening. One night you might be sitting by a roaring fire (I visited in February) in a candlelit garden, another you may be sitting near the pool surrounded by coloured lanterns.
Returning home after such a wonderful break is tough but the staff help you to integrate what you have learned during your stay into you daily life back home with practical guidance and a yoga manual to assist you with your practice. I returned home feeling relaxed, re-energised and planning my return trip.
You can find out more about Shreyas here.
Photos courtesy of Shreyas