My name is Tara and I run a property maintenance business alongside managing the administration of my husband’s company. I’ve 3 (almost) grown-up stepdaughters that live with us half the time and alongside this busy life, I love to keep fit and practise yoga at least four times a week I am a well-seasoned traveller and have been on a number of Yoga retreats before, in a multitude of countries.
My travel buddy and contributor to this review is Andrew, one of my very best friends. Andrew: Tara’s husband did not want to come on the retreat as he did not want to go on a holiday that involved non-drinking of alcohol. To be honest, this was a consideration for me but after looking at the facilities Shreya had to offer and the possibility of a break travelling after the retreat, I welcomed the opportunity.
I work in a high-pressure role in information security within the ICT industry. This obviously involves a lot of sitting at desks and sedentary work which can cause me to have the usual aches and pains associated with it. I’m a novice at yoga, attend class infrequently and had never been to a yoga retreat before.
Tired from the long flight, Shreya’s had organised our transfer from Bengaluru airport direct to the resort. We were greeted by the lovely driver ‘Manni’ who was immaculately dressed in a traditional white Indian Kurta and a big smile on his face; This being despite having to wait for us for over an hour, due to our flight being delayed.
The drive was pleasant, passing through rural villages and picturesque countryside with the recent rains bringing lush greens to the vegetation. June is the monsoon season for this area of India and we were apprehensive about what weather to expect. Our fears quickly dissipated as we discovered that this region is on a plateau and so often blessed with sunshine.
Immediately upon arrival, the staff were waiting and presented us with garlands of beautiful flowers of colourful yellows, red and the sweet-smelling white frangipani, all picked from the gardens, which were hung around our necks. This is a traditional Indian custom that is offered as a mark of respect and honour.
After this, we were marked on our foreheads with a dot of red paste, again an Indian custom. This part of your forehead is considered the seat of wisdom and mental concentration. It’s the spot where Yogi’s meditate to become one with Brahma and is considered to be ‘the spiritual eye’. This tradition is called having a ‘tika’ or ’tilka’ and is a blessing and greetings.
Our bags were taken and we were shown to the reception area, which consisted of a library with bookcases filled with plenty of reading material on subjects such as, Buddhism, spirituality and the varied types of Yoga. Most books are in English; however, there is also a small but varied selection in other European languages. Next to the library is a very sumptuous seating area decorated in Eastern contemporary style which has a bright airy feel. Throughout the seating areas, there are displays of elegant ornaments. The ambience is peaceful and is a relaxing place to reflect and read if you so wish. The floors are tiled with gleaming, incredibly clean marble tiles.
Doctor Dr Shahuja
We were given freshly made mango juice which had the sweetest, most fragrant flavour and beats western supermarkets hands down. This was the first of many fabulous freshly-prepared, home-grown juices provided throughout our visit by the very accommodating and incredibly polite staff.
All guests receive a consultation from the on-site Doctor, Dr Shahuja. She discusses your lifestyle, exercise routine and dietary requirements and also what goals you wish to achieve from the experience at Shreyas. From this, a tailor-made schedule is created for the duration of your stay. Our schedule consisted of yoga twice a day, meditation every day, yoga nidra, pranayama, two spa treatments and a day trip to the local villages and an orphanage that is funded by the retreat. So who said a retreat is about putting your feet up?
Dr Shahuja was very attentive and genuinely interested in what we were saying. She went onto explain that this personal service planning is very important to the resort to ensure all clients’ needs are catered for. This was evidenced when we later returned to our cottage to find that a hot water bottle had been delivered to alleviate the stiff neck Tara had been suffering within the UK. Again, at dinner, the chef had prepared a dish especially for us using coconut milk instead of cow’s milk due to our preference of alternatives to cow’s milk. When retiring for the evening, we had requested a bedtime ‘sleep’ tea which was provided throughout our stay.
We were prescribed ‘Hatha’ yoga which is available to anyone of any age, whether you have any yoga experience or not. This type of yoga was described ‘as the root of all yoga’, a branch that focuses on physical health and mental well-being. Using breath as the main teaching point of focus along with the postures brings a sound body and clear mind.
We arrived at our rented cottage, which was well designed. All the cottages are decorated in neutral colours with silk bedspreads and natural fibre roman blinds. They have large fans, air-conditioning and mosquito nets cover all the windows; basically, everything you would expect from a 5-star resort. We really like the option of the fan or air conditioning as this allows you to choose whether you have the air conditioning on or not. Throughout the resort, there are flower decorations using the same flowers as in the garlands and other exotic flowers brings a beautiful hint of colour to the rooms.
Hearing the sounds of nature and the wind blowing through the trees added to the ambiance.
‘Anaha’ The Wellness
After all the formalities we had our first spa treatment. What a super start to the experience! ‘Anaha’ the wellness spa offers a range of treatments including over 15 ‘Ayurvedic’ treatments. These are complementary holistic medicines that originated in India and contain complex herbs and minerals. In addition to these, the spa offered a range of massage and other beauty treatments, including; Balinese, Thai and Swedish massage, aromatherapy, hot stone and other beauty treatments.
We choose to have the hour-long Balinese massage. This involves deep manipulation of the body tissues and muscles, involving oils, smooth and deep pressure to your liking, following the body’s energy channels. This wonderful experience left us feeling rejuvenated, re-energised and totally relaxed. If you like a good firm massage ‘Anu’ and ‘Reni’, aka ‘Magic Hands’, come highly recommended.
Andrew: Usually I am a fidget and do not enjoy being massaged, this was different, nice and firm and left feeling so calm and relaxed, in fact I had muscles relaxed that I did not even know could be relaxed, a real testament to the skilled staff.
Athapa Snana – Banana Body Wrap
Later in the week, we had Naturotherapy which is a process that uses natural healing remedies and techniques. We chose ‘Athapa Snana’ which is basically a Banana body wrap and an Underwater Massage which is a type of hydrotherapy.
For the banana wrap Ayurvedic oil is lightly massaged on the body; a smell similar to coffee and caramel fills the senses and we felt instantly relaxed. Then you are led to a table in an open-air treatment room and wrapped in banana leaves from the organic garden. The leaves help to induce sweating when left in the sun. The leaves draw out toxins, slow down the ageing process and leave the skin with a healthy glow.
Andrew: I found the banana wrap comical to begin with. Being oiled up then wrapped in banana leaves reminded me of a piece of fish being prepared for dinner. However, my skin felt smooth and I immediately had a healthy complexion. I would definitely do this again. Like myself (and most men) I have not really considered being pampered so going to the spa was very new to me. The staff made me feel at ease and any anxiety I had quickly dissipated
The underwater massage took place in a space-age looking Jacuzzi bath that has numerous powerful water jets that aid blood circulation and lymphatic drainage and helps the body to eliminate the body’s metabolic waste. It leaves you feeling ‘Zen’ and sublime.
The Yoga class was held in a large pagoda with vaulted stone ceilings and big stone columns. The burning of incense gave it a temple-like feel. Morning yoga started at 6.30 am. To be honest the thought of doing Yoga that early in the morning was not a welcome idea and more often than not, we dreaded the thought of exercise. Unsurprisingly, once it was finished we felt energized and glowing and feeling quite smug that we made the effort.
Whether you are a novice or a Yoga Junkie, you really get out of it what you put in and the classes really do accommodate all levels. By no means do you need to be naturally bendy as it’s all about using your breath and holding the posture?
In terms of our individual practice of Yoga at home, we were at Polar opposites; Andrew practising seldom and Tara being a yoga obsessive. The teaching at the retreat engaged our levels of ability with grace, humour and the expertise of the teaching at our varying levels met both our individual needs.
By day two our senses had already been heightened and with no distractions from the outside world, we were quickly gaining the ability to switch off our ‘monkey mind’ and clear our thoughts. Over the 5 days, the yoga was varied and we were taught new postures every day. It was challenging but the quality of the teaching and individual learning points helped us to both feels we had achieved a great deal. We both have better postures and feel stronger, more focused, more at peace with ourselves and to top it all off, an inch or two off our waistline!
This is part 2 of our review of Shreyas Yoga Retreat – Part 1 is the general overview and the food options we had.
- Website: www.shreyasretreat.com
- Address: Santoshima Farm, Gollahalli Gate, Nelamangala, Bengaluru, Karnataka 562123, India
- Phone: +91 99161 17773