Tripadvisor.com may have given Shreyas Wellness Retreat consistently stellar ratings, but seeing is believing. Lisa Durante journeys to South India to take refuge at this haven of holistic healing where a trio of yoga, rejuvenation treatments and community service combine to unveil a wellbeing experience with a difference…
Mind, Body, Soul
With its age-old traditions of Mind-Body Medicine, India has always shone as a beacon of light in this sphere, given its heritage of embracing natural healing systems and weaving them into a seamless fabric for optimal longevity, which is the undisputed end-goal for wellness seekers. But the reality of accessing this wealth of Integrative Health wisdom in today’s India is often counter-productive to its primary principles based on purifying, strengthening and de-stressing body and mind to attain inner harmony and outer radiance. Why? Have you travelled on an Indian metro? It’s a multisensory mayhem so far removed from what Indian ancestral wellness practices espouse. So much so that the hour’s drive from central Bengaluru to the 25-acre retreat is like a pilgrimage from the depth of Hades to the gates of Paradise. When I reached the 12-room property, I succumbed to the luxury of uninterrupted slumber, and a restorative sleep that nullified the effects of hectic schedules, late nights and the stress of getting across the city.
In The Lap Of Luxury
Over the coming days, I began to detach from that persistent feeling of low-level anxiety that manifests itself in being grumpy and out of sorts. Clearly, the less salubrious by-products of being too busy for my own good had taken a toll on my vitality. By the time I left, these were dispelled thanks to Shreyas’ offering designed to unveil self-mastery through the mediums of Yoga, meditation and holistic healing. With the incremental curative effects of sound sleep, added to two sessions of Yoga and one hour of sound meditation a day, plus a plush array of massages, Indo-western gourmet vegetarian meals and the bliss of having my bestie Harathi in tow, my weary being reconstituted itself into an energised version of itself in no time. As the only property featuring a vegetarian-only menu in the luxury hotel listing company, Relais & Chateaux, I assumed I would also be following practices from the authentic spiritual tradition of India, which is sometimes nowadays missing in some resorts that get their product mix confused in a bid to attract clientele. I was right. Here, Yoga is taught in traditional ashram style (daily Yoga, meditation sessions, chanting classes, a strict vegetarian, no alcohol policy and community service), but austerity was nowhere to be found. We stayed in a well-appointed cottage enjoying all the amenities generally associated with a star hotel. Harathi, a busy mother and entrepreneur was grateful for this mini break. She dreamily explained why after yet another bliss-filled massage sipping nimbu pani by the pool as we watched the sunset. “Sure I want to integrate the manifold benefits of Yoga into my life, but the proverbial Eat, Pray, Love austerity that is usually associated with ashrams is not for me.” And certainly not for me either. For example, even though we were ensconced in this tranquil haven, we were also part of a wider community where all the Shreyas staff participated in a Sattvic lifestyle with daily Yoga and meditation classes. We’ve done our share of wellbeing tourism, but never come across a policy of inclusiveness taken to this level. We were both inspired…as well as impressed.
With its ‘barefoot luxury’ feel achieved thanks to accommodation structured to make guests feel like they are living in the midst of nature, it’s easy to capitulate to clichés when reviewing a property that genuinely is a ‘seamless blend of the modern and the timeless, luxury and simplicity, indulgence as well as enlightenment.’ Platitudes notwithstanding, this is a retreat to be re-visited not only because the experience was great, but because detaching from mundane living to go within is good for you anyway. It’s as if those few days dedicated to rest and renewal represented a milestone pilgrimage now on the agenda for future visits. Keeping in mind that the idea of ‘holidays’ derives from ‘holy days’, Harathi concluded that “most breaks can often break you; what with the mayhem of partying and the must-see, must-do compulsion. When you think about it, that’s the last type of getaway we actually need.” This is why we are planning to widen our circle for the next visit and come together with a small group of friends. If you don’t want to be in the predicament of having to recuperate after a holiday, but prefer to feel fabulous after it instead, then an option like Shreyas is the way to go.
A 20-minute chakra meditation took place outdoors every morning, after the 90-minute Yoga session which saw us measurably improving our alignment and stamina, followed by a gourmet wholefood breakfast to eclipse any previous hunger pangs caused by our exertions. Let’s face it, meditation is not easy. My monkey mind races just as much as the next person’s, so the discipline of going inwards and concentrating on the flow of one’s breathing as it moves from the base of the spine up to the crown of the head is a challenge. However, being enveloped by the verdant landscape of Shreyas, amidst a gentle breeze and in the best climate that I could wish for (after Dubai, weather-wise, Bengaluru is a dream), this process became easier and definitely more pleasurable. Harathi summed it up aptly. “With meditation, it works if you work it!” How right she is…
The Ashtanga Yoga system should never be confused with ‘power Yoga’ or any whimsical creation which goes against the tradition of the shastras (scriptures). It would be a shame to lose this precious jewel of liberation in the mud of ignorant bodybuilding.
– Krishna Pattabhi Jois (Founder of Ashtanga Yoga)
Is Shreyas A Good Option?
GOAL: I Want To Slim Down…
Ayurvedic physician Dr. Arun Kumar, explains how excellent results have been achieved with the Shreyas Yoga retreat that offers a weight management programme concentrating on weight loss via a mix of balanced diet, yogic practices and effective Ayurveda treatments like udwartana, syncronised abhyanga, deep tissue massage and choorna pinda swedana with specific Ayurveda oils, which helps in improving fat metabolism.
GOAL: I Want To Bliss Out…
If you are a spa junkie, then we can give you your fix. All our therapists practice Yoga themselves and follow the Ayurvedic traditions. This raises the bar on the authenticity of the offering. We only use fresh and natural products, and use traditional Ayurvedic manufacturers; we take doing things perfectly quite seriously.
– Ayurvedic physician, Dr. Arun Kumar
What Are The Most Popular Spa Treatments At Shreyas?
Synchronised massage with two therapists involving rhythmic movements and large quantities of warm medicated oil being gently massaged into the body to boost the immune system.
Shirodhara Massage Treatment
Therapeutic oils are poured in a continuous stream to bathe the head, directed to the middle of the forehead to calm and relax the mind.
Abhyanga Massage Treatment
This is a soothing massage that restores balance with specially blended Ayurvedic oils that leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
Choorna Pinda Sweda Massage
This begins with application of oil, massaging the body by two therapists on either side, followed by a massage done with different herbal powders made into compresses.
How Do You Combine Ayurveda And Yoga? What Are The Benefits?
Shreyas Yoga guru, Neelakanth, believes that Yoga and Ayurveda go hand in hand, and you can’t have one without the other.
Both healing systems originate from ancient Sanskrit texts and both stress the importance of the five elements: balance between body, mind, chakras, food and the cleansing/elimination process, so both are true sister sciences. Every visitor has a programme combining both Ayurveda and Yoga. He recommends asanas (postures) and pranayama (breathing techniques) to help balance doshas (humour)… helping the mind stay balanced. This is all done in accordance with the body’s natural constitution and with the Ayurvedic physician to ensure that harmony is maintained. We are not a typical medi-spa. Shreyas’ curative approach derives from our ancient heritage of healing that focusses on balancing the doshas (humour) which are the root cause of diseases, which occur due to factors like improper food habits and lifestyle. Delivered in comfort, but with regard for these age-old traditions, the combined preventative, rejuvenating and curative Ayurvedic approach is our modus operandi. We are successful in helping guests attain and maintain optimum wellness; creating general awareness and giving them an improved understanding about a healthy body and mind.