Thanks to some creative accounting I was fortunate enough to spend two days at Shreyas Yoga Retreat with my friend Majo. After spending most of the week in Bengaluru, the prerequisite for the weekend was to retreat away from the city and embark on a wellbeing journey of the luxury kind. From the moment we departed our hotel, we had a sense we were about to experience something special. From the chauffeur driven Indian Army car (it pays to have friends in high places), to the ceremonial blessing on arrival and refreshing pineapple and celery drink (who would have thought of that combination), our humid one hour car journey was quickly forgotten and a sense of calm gathered around us as we were transported into another world.
Nestled amongst 25 acres of greenery and frangipani gardens, we were guided through the resort to our garden cottage tent named Titiksha. Titiksha is Sanskrit meaning forbearance. Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 2, Sloka 14) refers to Titiksha as the contact between the senses and the sense objects. O Arjuna, are the causes of heat and cold, pleasure and pain. Being transient these come and go and we must learn to withstand them. Both yoga and meditation practise help to bring reactions under control and we were about to experience over the weekend our first steps towards balancing Titiksha.
After a consultation with the retreat doctor, there was just enough time to squeeze in a massage before lunch. To maximise the benefits of Ayurvedic treatments the recommendation was to have a course of at least seven treatments over a week. Because we were only staying for two days I opted for a Balinese massage instead and Majo a Thai massage. My therapist Vidya has worked at Shreyas for the past six years. A testament to how much the staff enjoy being part of something special. I enjoyed the massage so much that I decided to have another one the following day. Majo equally enjoyed her Thai massage which took place in the tranquil garden gazebos.
Lunch was our first chance to taste some of the sublime cuisine on offer. Vegetarian based, the majority of the produce is grown on the property. If I had access to their chefs daily, I could quite happily become a vegetarian. We were treated to smoked tomato soup and kachcumber salad for starters. For the main course our taste buds were set alive with cottage cheese and capsicum, saute beetroot, chick peas masala, roti, rice, yoghurt and papad. To finish, dessert was kulfi and fresh fruits. After the abundance of food, thankfully there was time for some relaxation by the pool. Unprompted we were brought refreshments of fresh watermelon juice to help keep us hydrated after a prior serving of coconut water.
Having enjoyed some time to cool down from the heat, it was time to experience our first yoga class. There are twice daily Yogasana/Pranayama classes available at 6am and 4pm and you can also book private classes. The fresh smell of burning incense drifts through the yoga hall helping to dissipate negative energy and clears the mind. It was a gentle Hatha yoga class designed for all levels and we decided to challenge ourselves for our 6am morning class, arranging an Ashtanga session. To complete our holistic mindfulness for the day we had a private meditation session following our yoga class, which then blissfully lead us to another superb vegetarian meal consisting of leek and asparagus soup, Greek salad, whole wheat fusilli in pesto sauce, bruschetta, sauté French beans and carrots, finishing with an apple brownie and fresh fruits! With a 6am wake up call it was early to bed. What delights will tomorrow bring?
Be careful what you wish for. Our more challenging yoga class was certainly that! Exhausted I was pleased when the Ashtanga class came to and end and very pleased I had booked another massage later in the day. Refueled after breakfast it was then time for the group meditation class set in the machan, surrounded by coconut and chickoo trees. By this stage the stresses of the outside world had certainly disappeared and the tranquility of the surroundings had taken over.
It’s hard to fault Shreyas as a retreat. From the moment you drive through the gates, the outside world is left far behind. If it wasn’t for the occasional sound of a train passing by on the outskirts of the property, you could easily become lost in time staying there. Though a gentle reminder that the outside world and its poverty still exists just beyond the gates I believe is a good thing to keep you grounded when you’re experiencing such luxuries. It is compulsory for all staff to attend daily yoga and meditation classes. You are what you preach, and judging by how long many employees have been working at Shreyas its a philosophy that clearly works for its staff as its passed on to its guests. It’s extremely hard to find in India the level of service on offer at Shreyas. Every detail is accounted for up until the very last minute you depart (which includes freshly made cookies, bottled water and roses to help you with your onward journey). For those fortunate enough to be able to stay for weeks on end, I hope they feel extremely blessed to be able to do so, I certainly was with my very brief stay. I only wish it could have been longer.