There are many ways to learn and practice yoga… get a personal teacher, enroll for a group class, teach yourself with the help of an off-the-shelf DVD or sign up for a yoga retreat. This last one happens to be my favourite. So when I got an invitation to visit Shreyas Yoga Retreat resort in Bangalore, I just couldn’t refuse.
As a yoga teacher myself, I was pleasantly surprised to find that true to its name, this is a ‘yoga’ place. What this means is that they stay true to the traditional yoga in all its dimensions but do not tread into its various derivatives such as power yoga, bikram hot yoga or pilates.
Built on a sprawling 25 acres of land in the outskirts of Bangalore, there is an aura of naturalness to the resort, which is complemented by the rituals that seem to have been put into place with the purpose of enhancing your yogic experience. As I arrived, the staff, who were dressed in traditional Indian wear, welcomed me in the typical Indian style—tilak, floral garland, aarti and all. What impressed me was that this wasn’t just a formality—there was a certain genuineness in the way they went about this ritual.
Soon, I found myself on the recliner by the pool side, stretched out lazily and sipping on fresh pomegranate juice. I shut my eyes and took a deep breath in… and remembered how just the previous evening I was contemplating cancelling this trip so that I could stay back and attend to unfinished work. Oh, what a pity that would have been!
It’s only when you do it that you realise how important it is to break away from your daily routine to go do something different, even if it’s only for a couple of days. Though I has just arrived, I was already feeling relaxed—the serene setting of the place had begun its magic. As I felt my nerves soothed I heard a loud chuckle of a cuckoo and I opened my eyes to see the beaming face of one of the staff members, Santosh, there to escort me to my cottage.
At Shreyas, you have the option of staying at a garden tent cottage or one next to the pool. I stayed in a garden tent one. Every cottage has been aptly given a Sanskrit name, with some relevance to yoga—mine was called Shraddha, meaning faith.
While the philosophy of Shreyas is to promote authentic yoga, it does so in a luxurious manner. The idea is that the guests can devote their time to self-discovery through yoga without being in the rigorous environs of an ashram. Their only idea of austerity [if you can call it that] is the absence of room service.
Inside, the décor of my room had all the amenities of a luxury hotel, without being too opulent. Of course, you can’t expect a mini-bar! Being a yoga place, they maintain a strictly alcohol and non-vegetarian free environment.
The bathroom was unique as it extended out to an area that opened into my little private garden, and by ‘opened’ I mean it actually had the open sky for a roof.
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