A Divine Yoga Retreat

Manisha Rathore

The first time I heard about Shreyas was from my Spanish friend Eva, in Indonesia, who had visited Bangalore for a yoga vacation at Shreyas…and what she told me about the place made it seem very special. It is recognized as one of the finest yoga retreats in the world. Shreyas actually means a resting place, a place to go to on an inner journey, and to reflect and connect with the inner core. In the Indian tradition of yoga, life is considered to be a journey of experiences that leads us to discover “Shreyas” inherent in us.

Shreyas is just an hour’s drive from the new Bangalore International Airport in India; in an environment and ambience normally associated with an exclusive hotel. Nestled in a sprawling 25-acre oasis of greens, Shreyas is a seamless blend of the modern and the timeless, luxury and simplicity, indulgence and enlightenment. However, its specialty lies in providing access to yoga for all levels of experience.

In India there is no dearth of yoga institutes, resorts, ashrams and schools…so what sets Shreyas apart? The retreat is the inspiration of an investment banker, Pawan Malik, who combines the high-adrenaline, high-stress world of finance with the practice of yoga and study of the Indian scriptures. A qualified yoga teacher himself, his love for yoga and a deep conviction that spirituality and self-discovery do not just complement, but are essential in modern life—laid the foundation for Shreyas. After a four-year concept to construction process, Shreyas opened its doors to guests in late 2004.

Shreyas offers diverse and yet complementary activities ranging from yoga (Hatha and Ashtanga yoga), meditation, chanting of sacred mantras, deep relaxation sessions, body and breath awareness classes, volunteerism, community service, corporate social responsibility exercises and communing with nature. All these are perfectly complemented by rejuvenating massages, organic vegetarian cuisine and a no-alcohol policy – all designed to ensure that guests leave refreshed in body, mind and spirit.

The spa at Shreyas
The Rejuvenation Center invigorates the mind, body and soul. Restorative, relaxing, and detoxifying, the therapies gently coax the body and mind to a state of balanced and enhanced well-being. A qualified naturopath is available to discuss and help choose the massages and scrubs/masks that suit one’s requirements. The massage session ends with a visit to the steam room.

Shreyas offers Balinese, Thai, Swedish and Aromatherapy massages, along with traditional Ayurvedic treatments like Abhyanga, Shirodhara, Udwarthanam, Virechana and more.

Set in the backdrop of simplistic luxury under the canopy of coconut trees, Shreyas scrubs and masks are prepared with organic ingredients freshly picked from its gardens. Here are a few of the signature treatments offered:

Synchronized Abhyanga (Traditonal Ayurvedic Massage) – This is a unique massage done by two therapists working in unison to bring about a harmonious sense of well-being. It is a combination of soothing and long strokes that help in restoring balance and re-establishing calmness and harmony in the body. Specially blended Ayurvedic oils leave one feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

Pathra Pinda Swedam – This process begins with the application of oil and massaging the entire body with mild pressure on either side with the help of finely chopped herbal leaves, which are warmed in medicated oil and bundled into boluses. These boluses are frequently warmed during the process. This promotes better circulation and relieves body strain.

Choorna Pinda Swedam – This begins with the application of oil and a full-body massage by two therapists. The body is then subjected to exude sweat profusely after a thorough massage of herbal powders made into boluses. It produces therapeutic sweat and relaxes the muscles.

Aromatic Natural Spice Scrub – This luxurious treatment scrub is a treat for the senses as well as the body! Aromatic spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper and cardamom help in stimulating and generating warmth in the body. They also help exfoliate and soften the skin while relieving sore muscles.

A typical day at Shreyas
Guests have a choice of accommodations from Poolside, Garden Suite Cottages and a 3-bedroom cottage. The “tented” Garden Cottages, spaciously scattered across the property, are surrounded by lush vistas of greenery, and have en-suite bathrooms that open onto private walled courtyards.

A day at the resort dawns with guests waking up to the gentle rustling of the coconut trees, chirping of birds and the crisp cool air. Stepping out of the luxury garden cottages with tented canopies or the poolside cottages, the curving pathways lead to the open-air yoga hall where the guests can gently stretch and tone the body, practice deep relaxation, meditation and breathing exercises.
For those who like to run or walk there is a wonderful shady, winding pathway that meanders through the sprawling 25 acres of greenery. Guests can opt to swim in the infinity-edge lap pool or simply sunbathe around it with a book from their extensive library. Those interested in learning sacred chants can participate in the “Chanting and Sound Meditation” class organized daily in one of the traditional huts by the lawns.

Those who want can learn to cook, work in the organic agricultural garden, and interact with local village school children – Shreyas offers a wonderful opportunity for guests to get a glimpse into the simple, hardworking lives of the local villagers. And, for those who are interested, exercises in Community Service and “Voluntourism initiatives” are arranged by Shreyas at the local village, schools and orphanages. These exercises include preparing a meal and serving children at a local orphanage, planting saplings in the village, contributing towards the village school’s requirements such as uniforms, stationery and infrastructure-needs like wells, rain-water harvesting projects, etc.

Yoga at Shreyas
Shreyas provides numerous self-discovery packages/retreats that act as catalysts for the thinking/living philosophy, and harmonize it with the timeless wisdom enshrined within the Indian philosophical tradition. The principal scriptures that are referred to for the yoga classes are the Bhagavad Gita, selected Upanishads, Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Yoga Vashista and the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. These scriptures are universal in nature and their essence is applicable to all sincere spiritual seekers. Yoga sessions are based on classical Hatha yoga and Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga, combined with Pranayama, Kriyas (cleansing processes), Pratyahara (internalization), Dharana (concentration), and introduction to Dhyana (meditation).These are held in the open air yoga pavilion, which has been lauded as one of the world’s finest, under the guidance of experienced yoga instructors.

It is moments like these extracted from the busy schedule, that become the defining moments of life – when in that deep rest of the soul, we discover so many things hidden, buried deep within us that sometimes give a new direction to life. The whole experience is about taking rest, recharging and then moving on.

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