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Shreyas Yoga Retreat: A Humble Luxury

I arrived at Shreyas yoga retreat in the very early hours of the day, after a long overnight flight London-Mumbai-Bangalore, and all I could think of was a soft and cozy double bed, all to myself. Yet my senses were being awakened the moment I entered the resort. A fresh jasmine garland over my head, a yummy fruit juice, and the exposure to the stunning, expansive grounds of a former coconut farm made me realise I’m in a paradise where not a second of my stay should be wasted. Still, after a brief welcome I had to excuse myself to a very kind and smiley manager for a quick nap before getting on with the extensive activity programme. I love having lots of space around me, and the Garden Cottage I stayed at was very light and roomy (always helpful for a good sleep), decorated simply and tastefully. I also love being able to see the stars as I shower, and hear the sounds of nature as I wake up. (In the same way, I love finding a little inspirational poem on a piece of paper on my bed every evening). Having slept for longer than expected, I finally got up and went out of my cottage to face the bright of the day with its glorious South Indian sunshine. The sensation of the warmth on my bare skin was a remarkable feeling I’d been longing for. The place appeared even more spectacular in the day; it was lush greenery everywhere I looked, with sparse cottages here and there. I knew I was in the right place to let my body fully relax and my soul get nourished. After my nap I was just in time to have my first experience of Shreyas’ delicious vegetarian cuisine, sourced mainly from their own organic garden, creative, bursting in flavours, nourishing and cleansing. Throughout my stay here, my culinary highlights were the dinners, usually served outside, sometimes next to a bonfire, with a beautiful table dressing. Dining under the stars whilst having a relaxed chat with your newly-made friends is one guilty pleasure. Not to mention the most caring and attentive serving staff who treat you like you are a Royal. Only later did I realise though that it’s best not to ask for seconds during lunch, otherwise performing yoga at 4pm becomes difficult. Yet, just like everything else, the yoga practice here is tailored to the individual needs of each guest, so I was making my teacher aware of my full stomach when I was being greedy at lunch. Shreyas offers Hatha and Ashtanga yoga which is taught by a selection of teachers, so you get to experience different approaches and never the same routine. Fear not if you are a total beginner; a lot of guests here are new to yoga. Equally, experienced yogis are offered a more advanced practice. I must say though, I was struggling with peeling myself off the bed for a 6.30am morning practice, but then again – it made each day feel longer as we all felt nice and fresh by 8am and ready to get on with the day. A mid-morning sound meditation added another dimension to the spiritual practice, and I could truly feel its calming benefits already after a few sessions. What was even more calming and nourishing was my hours spent in the resort’s Spa. I admit: it’s one thing I can do 24/7. So I thought I’d spoil myself with having one or even two treatments every day. A consultation with an Ayurvedic doctor revealed I’m a Pitta-Vata type, and my Vata needs some balancing. In line with that, on my personal Spa menu were Shirodhara, Abhyanga, Body Scrub, Balinese Massage, Head Massage, Thai Massage – to name a few treatments I’ve been able to remember.  It was an excellent experience all the way through, and I consider myself very picky when it comes to Spa. On day two it was time to get introduced to Shreyas’ Community Service and experience the joy of giving. The resort is a long-standing supporter of a local orphanage and regularly brings guests there together with a healthy lunch for the children. But first it was helping out with cooking the lunch: picking vegetables in Shreyas’ garden; chopping them in the kitchen; frying some papadums, scrapping the flash from the coconuts and finally taking the food to the orphanage and helping to serve it to the kids. Around 20 of them rushed back to the orphanage for their lunch break from school, set down neatly in four rows on the floor and waited for the food to be served.  They sang a prayer and then eagerly tucked in, demonstrating their skilful Indian way of eating with the fingers (and not leaving a mess after themselves). You could tell they are used to Western visitors from Shreyas (many of which decide to help the orphanage in various other ways). The whole experience was very heart-warming and uplifting, especially when the kids gifted me with their big and sincere smiles. The next day I was offered a quick tour to see a couple of local Hindu temples. The meditation teacher from the resort escorted me and was able to answer my various questions I had about Indian culture, tradition and religion. The subject was by no means exhausted and had only inspired me to keep exploring India further and further. In between various activities I was catching the precious sun by the swimming pool, trying to turn the colour of my skin from snow white to slightly brown. Attentive Shreyas staff knows you need your coconut or watermelon juice when it gets too hot – you don’t even need to ask for it. (Oh, did I mention that they also thoughtfully turn your shoes around every time you leave them outside any building as you enter, so you could easily slip into them when you come out?) After five days at Shreyas I felt truly spoilt with the most attentive and caring service, mouth-watering food, soul nourishing practices and body treatments, as well as the abundance of vital energy coming from the surrounding nature. The accumulative result of my experience was a noticeable positive shift in how I felt, my tired body was feeling rejuvenated and my scattered mind has calmed down.  I only wish I could seal this effect and keep it intact until I come back to this sanctuary for the soul again.

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