Thanks to Eat, Pray, Love, India became the quintessential destination to ‘find yourself,’ and yoga the ultimate vehicle to do so. But if you’re already pretty certain that your inner self likes a little luxury while on its personal quest, Shreyas Yoga Retreat, a Relais & Chateaux property in Bangalore, India, will take you on a five-star journey of self-discovery.
For a retreat to be successful, it needs to incorporate many elements, with the centerpiece being the yoga program itself. Shreyas Retreat offers authentic, spiritual, holistic yoga, and is rated one of the top yoga retreats in the world by Gayot. All retreats and packages are also available throughout the year, and customised to each guest’s individual requirements. And, women traveling solo should know that Shreyas goes out of their way to make sure all guests feel a sense of privacy and security.
While yoga is taught in traditional ashram style (daily yoga, meditation sessions, chanting classes, a strict vegetarian, no alcohol policy and community service), guests live in a luxurious environment. Classes are created to appeal to the total beginner and the advanced yogi alike and are offered twice-a-day indoors or in an open-air yoga hall surrounded by nature. Led by local teachers, all the classes focus on meditation and a Hatha or Ashtanga style. Outside of class, guests interact with their instructors learning to apply the yoga philosophy in daily life.
The yoga philosophy is very much rooted in a humanistic, encompassing viewpoint and an understanding that we’re all part of something much larger than ourselves. The Shreyas Joy of Giving program attempts to reconnect us with that philosophy. In addition to lending a hand with basic farm chores, guests can help the chefs prepare food and then serve it to children from a local orphanage, plant trees, meet villagers and learn things like how to make organic Ayurvedic body scrubs or how to tie a sari.
Living the yoga life
Shreyas’ lush 25-acres provide a tranquil setting to living a yoga life. For instance, head to one of the machans for some quiet contemplation or to simply read a book and sit in nature, or to the meditation machan for a chanting class. If you want to get your hands dirty you can try your hand at farming as members of the staff are happy to help teach guests about sowing, weeding and, yes, even plucking. It’s a great chance to get back to basics and to cultivate gratitude for how easy we all really have it in our daily lives.
With all the ‘noise’ in our lives, one of the biggest impediments to ‘finding ourselves’ is simply finding the head space to hear ourselves think. To help with the process, Shreyas offers a five-day silent retreat. ‘When we are in this silence,’ they tell us, ‘our mind is clear, and we see the world, and ourselves, for what we are.’ It’s a perfect break to check-in with Self and discover what’s really going on inside of mind and body.
While many yoga programs incorporate cleansing and detoxing, at Shreyas food is meant to be celebrated while still following yoga principles with regards to food – food must be fresh, light, nutritious, combined and timed correctly and reflect the seasons. The result is a globally inspired vegetarian menu that draws from Indian, Continental, Mexican and Oriental influences. Guests who are on the Ayurvedic package, Weight Management and Yoga Package can choose food made according to Ayurveda principles. All food allergies and dietary preferences can be accommodated. Yoga teaches to eat with awareness, and Shreyas encourages this principle by making sure that vegetarian meals are not only a feast for the taste buds, but for the eyes as well. Settings are constantly changed giving guests a variety of experiences – lunch at a large flower-laden communal table in the dining room or at individual tables under the antique pillars, breakfast near the pool under the warm rays of the sun or seated on the soft cushions of the machan with the organic gardens surrounding you. During the night Shreyas transforms to an ethereal place, and dinner becomes a magical event. On chilly nights there might be an outdoor dinner with a bonfire. For those wanting privacy individual poolside tables are dimly lit by candles and paper lanterns reflect patterns onto the surface of the water.
Besides yoga, India is well known for its spa lifestyle and Shreyas spa doesn’t disappoint. Depending on your needs, Shreyas massages can either stimulate or calm the nervous system by easing tension, stiffness and pain leaving relaxation in its wake. The resort offers Balinese, Thai, Swedish and Aromatherapy massages along with traditional Ayurvedic treatments.
At night you’ll return to your luxurious garden or poolside cottage for a restful and restorative sleep surrounded by the sounds of nature. A perfect place to reflect on the day and look forward to another on your journey into yourself.
Writer Dena Roche is the founder of The Travel Diet.