Category Archives: Wellbeing

Shreyas Yoga Retreat

Relax and Re-energise at Shreyas Yoga Retreat, Karnataka, India

Shreyas coconut plantation maud interiors

 

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 yoga retreat

Shreyas yoga retreat

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.

Yoga-pavilion-Shreyas-Maud-interiors

Shreyas yoga retreat

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.

 

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shreyas yoga retreat

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.

shreyas yoga retreat

shreyas yoga retreat

Shreyas decor

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 cooking lesson

Shreyas-at-night

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.

Shreyas yoga retreat

Photos courtesy of Shreyas

Spinach and Cumin Soup Recipe

Shreyas Recipe for Spinach and Cumin Soup

Mani, one of the five chefs at Shreyas yoga and wellbeing retreat in Nelamangala, Bangalore, showed me how to make this healthy, nourishing spinach and cumin soup. The food at the Shreyas ashram is vegetarian and is created according to yogic principles so it’s “fresh, light and nutritious”.  Ingredients are hand-picked from the retreat’s organic gardens and every meal is a culinary delight.  There’s more to follow on Shreyas in another post, for now I am sharing this delicious soup recipe, which is quick and easy to make and full of flavour, in time for the Easter break.

Shreyas-Manni-the-chef-Maud-interiors

 Ingredients (Serves 2)

  • 2 garlic cloves roughly chopped
  • 1/2 a red onion finely chopped
  • 1 packet of fresh, organic, spinach
  • 1.5 tblsps olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 300 ml cold water
  • 50 ml skimmed milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin seeds
  • 1/8 teaspoon of cardamom powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon powder

 

Method

  • Heat the olive oil in a large wok.
  • Add the cumin, garlic and onion and allow to lightly brown.
  • Add the spinach leaves and reduce.
  • Once the spinach has reduced add 300ml water (the water must be cold) and bring to the boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 8-10 minutes.
  • Remove the wok from the heat and allow to cool.
  • When the mixture is at room temperature add 50ml skimmed milk, the cardamom powder and cinnamon then blend.
  • Reheat and enjoy.

 

spinach and cumin soup Maud interiors

 

 

Gifts for Yogis

Gift Inspiration For The Yogis In Your Life

 

Gifts for Yogis

 

A selection of gifts for yogis or for someone needing to relax, unwind and create a sense of calm  after a long day at the office.  Choose from our handcrafted copper sunflower tea light holders £19.00, which are perfect for creating soft ambient lighting for an evening practice. | 2. Aashe, one of our large hand embroidered, comfortable, floor cushions from our Kutch Collection for meditation. | 3.  A hand beaten, fair trade, copper meditation urli(bowl).  Just watching the coppery light created by  floating tea lights reflecting against the tiny hammered indentations creates a sense of calm.

Create Your Own Moroccan Hammam Experience

Moroccan hammam experience Riad 72

The hammam at Riad 72. Photo: Riad 72

 

If you are visiting Morocco I recommend you try a hammam either a private one at your riad or the nearest public one.  It’s essentially the Middle Eastern version of the steam room and its origins date back to Roman times.

 

Visiting a hammam is part of Moroccan life and men, women and children visit at least once a week.  Every neighbourhood has a hammam which is often situated near the communal bread oven to share the heat source.  If you are visiting the public hammam check out the times/days when it is open to women/men in advance and find out if you need to take products with you or if they are available to purchase.

 

My first hammam experience was at Riad 72 in Marrakech, which I wrote about in an earlier blog.   When they  suggested I try the hammam I have to admit that I was slightly nervous as I had visions of having my skin rubbed until it was red raw but I had nothing to worry about.  Ayesha, the hammam attendant or tellak, at Riad 72 has been giving hammam treatments for over 10 years and she even gives her ten month old baby the treatment to cleanse his skin.

 

The riad hammam is a large tadelakht covered wet room with a heated floor and a sunken bath at one end.  The bath is filled with hot water and the room fills with steam.  First you are covered in warm water to open your pores and then in a black soap made from olive oil infused with eucalyptus.  The soap cleanses and softens your skin.  Your hammam attendant then uses an exfoliating glove called a kessa to remove old skin cells.  This isn’t like an out of the jar body scrub this is serious exfoliation. You will see rolls of skin leaving your body but it is painless.

 

Once all your dead skin has been removed you are rinsed down and clay, called rhassoul, is mixed with water and applied to your entire body and your hair.  This is special lava clay from the Atlas Mountains which  is said to remove imperfections and tighten your skin.  Once the clay has dried on your skin you are rinsed down again so that all traces are removed.  I finished off with a relaxing argan oil and verbena full body massage.  My skin felt incredibly soft and rejuvenated for days afterwards and there was no redness.

 

Moroccan Hammam Riad 72

The massage room at Riad 72. Photo: Riad 72

 

Create Your Own Moroccan Hammam At Home

A hammam is a great way to unwind and pamper yourself at the same time.  You can create your own Moroccan hammam in your bathroom at home here’s how:

create your own hammam experience

1.  Create the right mood by lighting candles or try floating candles in our copper meditation urli for an ambient glow.

2.  Fill your bath with hot water or leave your shower running to create a steam filled room.

3.  Take a dip in the bath or under the shower  and then cover yourself with exfoliating soap.  There are a few providers of Moroccan soap and beauty treatments online but I am suggesting the Beldi soap with eucalyptus oil from Essence of Morocco.

4.  Once covered with soap start gently exfoliating with the kessa glove.  Work from the extremities in using long sweeping movements and applying pressure.

5.  Rinse off and apply a thin layer of rhassoul clay, lava clay, which is said to rid the skin of impurities, detoxifying the skin. I’m suggesting the Essence of Morocco Rhassoul Clay Mask because the mask is already mixed for you so it is easier to use.  The clay is mined from the Atlas Mountains in Morocco.   You can also use the mask as a natural shampoo and as a weekly face mask.

6.  Leave the mask for 5 – 10 minutes so that it is dry but not too tight and then rinse thoroughly with warm water.

7.  Finally to finish off the experience massage in Argan oil.  I like Essence of Morocco’s organic Argan Oil with Rose.

Afterwards your skin should feel cleansed, soft and rejuvenated and you should feel pampered and relaxed.

 

Please note this isn’t a sponsored post.  There are a number of online providers of Moroccan hammam products I have suggested the Essence of Morocco products because I have used them before and think the quality is good.