Shreyas Retreat & Spa is arguably one of the finest yoga retreats in the world. The resort is situated an hour’s drive from Bengaluru, India and offers an array of tailor-made yoga holidays from a one day visit to monthly rejuvenating packages. Shreyas Retreat prides itself on being a luxury escape with self-discovery and rejuvenation being its primary focus. The resort has 14 cottages and a 25-meter swimming pool located within a stunning 25-acre site. It has 5 yoga/meditation areas, a very well equipped spa that has recently been renovated. It also has now 13 treatment rooms which have a palatial feel and plush marbled decor.
The guest accommodation includes poolside cottages and tented cottages that are in a more secluded setting within the grounds. The tranquil, serene landscape is full of lush greens with beautiful palm, coconut, frangipani and various fruit trees and a vast array of lush vegetation and flowers. This, together with the garden statues and water feature creates a peaceful and harmonious environment.
Within the site is a 3-acre organic fruit and vegetable garden that services most of the delightful vegetarian food prepared for the guests. These include mango, avocado, limes, sweet lemon, custard apples, jack fruit, chillies, aubergines, all the salad, root veg…the list is endless. It even has 6 cows (which are walked by the staff daily) to produce all of the milk and some of the dairy products including yoghurt and paneer (a type of cottage cheese).
This retreat is very well presented and maintained by 80 staff, all of which practice yoga daily. There are no TVs on site, however, the opulent cinema room with comfortable leather reclining seats and surround sound has a multitude of Hollywood and Bollywood blockbusters to watch After a day of physical exertion, this is a welcome and well-deserved treat.
On speaking with ‘Rucha’, one of the 7 yoga teachers, we discover a bit of history on the founding of the retreat. 15 years ago Mr Pawan Malik, a committed yogi and investment banker (now based in London), observed that the only place to connect with yourself and achieve a yogic spiritual experience was to go to a traditional Yoga Ashram. He questioned whether people really want a yoga holiday where there is a strict regime of 4am yoga and sleeping on stone floors His aspiration and vision was to enable you to have this experience and look within yourself without distraction, with all the creature comforts you would expect from a five star resort. Realising that the journey towards self-discovery is a precious experience, he decided to create a luxurious, relaxing environment and Shreyas Retreat was born.
Rucha also explained that often partners of the guests come on retreat but don’t want to get involved in the yoga. They are invited to chill out by the pool, use the cricket pitch on-site or do their own thing, but they can often suddenly find themselves immersed in yoga and wondering “when did I lose my bat to a mat?” The apprehensive guests are often the ones that open up to the experience the most.
I found each class unique and challenging and it was good to know with the support of the staff that I was being looked after; even more pleasing was that I really could tell that my yoga practice was improving as the week went on.
Rucha also explained that often partners of the guests come on retreat but don’t want to get involved in the yoga. They are invited to chill out by the pool, use the cricket pitch on site or do their own thing, but they can often suddenly find themselves immersed in yoga and wondering “when did I lose my bat to a mat?” The apprehensive guests are often the ones that open up to the experience the most.
For those who feel their own personal development is enhanced by altruistic activity, Shreyas also caters for you. Along with donations from guests, the resort has contributed to the rebuilding of a local orphanage and is currently supporting over 70 children. During your stay, you are invited to cook and prepare food from the organic garden and to take it to the orphanage and serve to the children. In this way, you can enjoy your visit even more, in the knowledge that you are supporting the local community.
Shreyas offer organic vegetarian cuisine in an Indian or Western style. Andrew and I opted for Indian. The menus are carefully considered to not only be nutritious but also light on the digestive system. The dining tables are beautifully set and adorned with colourful flowers with a varied menu detailing the delights to be savoured. Weather permitting; dinner was served by the candle-lit pool which created a romantic atmosphere. All other meals were served in the dining room.
Throughout our stay, we had many different varieties of homegrown and freshly made juices, including watermelon and ginger, aloe vera, carrot and ginger and tomato. At breakfast, you are served with 2 fresh juices, fresh fruit, dried fruit, and homemade jam. A wide variety of breakfast was available including porridge, toast and granola along with a traditional Indian breakfast. We enjoyed the ‘Poha’ which is lightly fragrant fried rice with coconut, fresh coriander lemon and onion. We also loved the red millet lightly spiced rice, served with spinach & coconut purées. Indian pancakes were also available. We sampled the home-grown ‘Jack Fruit’ which is a marigold colour with a strangely textured firm flesh. The taste was a combination of apple, mango, banana and pineapple, with a floral, perfumed undertone.
Every lunch and evening meal consisted of 4 courses of home-cooked Indian-style dishes, all delicately flavoured and well presented. None of the food was greasy or over spicy. If you’re a chilli head like us you may want to ask for extra fresh chillies! The first course would typically be soup, with salad as the main course and then dessert.
Some of our favourites were: Fired roast corn soup which was subtly spiced and beautifully creamy; Aubergine masala with smoky cumin and coriander flavours; Soya bean and pea curry with pear and red cabbage salad-the unique texture of the soya bean with the crunch of the salad was scrumptious.
We devoured the divine cauliflower masala which was a dried, mild spiced curry along with a refreshing tomato, radish & spinach salad. Although both of us not being lovers of puddings, we were blown away with the mouth-watering moist carrot cake, butterscotch sauce and mango ice cream. Fresh, tangy and palate-cleansing, a true delight to the taste buds.
Shreyas is currently putting together a cookery book that you will be able to purchase from August 2017. Great buy, after all ‘you are what you eat, may your food be your medicine’.
What we enjoyed most, apart from the deliciously prepared organic food was the variety of teachers and yoga – no two classes were the same. This combined with the attentiveness of the staff and harmoniously magical surroundings allowed me to totally kick back, switch off and recharge my batteries. This truly is a unique experience and unlike any previous retreats, I have been on.
Arriving at the retreat my initial preconceptions of a ‘new age’ type commune were quickly dismissed with the very professional, yet relaxed service right from the start. What first struck me was the beauty and peacefulness of the grounds and the sense that I was in a place where I could immediately put aside daily stresses and feel relaxed. All in all, I found the whole retreat experience exciting; It was new, satisfying and meeting my aims of having a stress free, relaxing no hassle time in a luxurious but chilled atmosphere.
Shreyas has proved its worth and with the added bonus of equipping me with skills to achieve this when back at home. I would go back there in a heartbeat to have a break, eat marvellously, food and have the support of skilled, happy, attentive staff in surroundings that are lush, green and very pleasing to the eye and soul, It is the success of the retreat that they have changed me from someone who was reluctant to go to yoga to someone who wishes to integrate it into my daily life. A real gem of a resort.
As we were leaving the resort, The CEO Mr Pawan Malik came to check that all was well, thanked us for coming and for trying everything we were prescribed. As well as this, when trying to leave a well-deserved tip for the staff, they politely declined. A prime example of the genuine commitment the staffs at Shreyas Retreat have to their guest’s personal well being.
Shreyas is widely advertised as ‘the best yoga retreat & spa in India’ and it certainly lived up to its claim. If you are in need of a break from your hectic lifestyle and want to submerge into a spiritual and physical yoga experience, along with the finest yet healthiest of Indian cuisine, this is the place for you.
For a detailed review of the Yoga and Spa Experience at Shreyas read:
- Website: www.shreyasretreat.com
- Address: Santoshima Farm, Gollahalli Gate, Nelamangala, Bengaluru, Karnataka 562123, India
- Phone: +91 99161 17773