Shreyas Retreat Review By Chris Wain

22/04/2024, Chris Wain

Our Sales Director Chris Wain shares with us what she thought of his recent stay at Shreyas Retreat in India.

Yoga for the non-Yogi

It’s taken me long enough, but I finally know that tiger, butterfly, cobra & downward dog are not signs of the Chinese zodiac, but rather Yoga poses.

Yoga was always something I shied away from, not really considering it ‘proper’ exercise, unlike getting a good sweat up in the gym from a workout. I had previously enjoyed a few sessions of Yoga Nidra, but had always thought of it as the chance to nod off and get a few minutes of relaxing sleep. I hadn’t actually experienced any Yoga which involved me having to stay awake, so it was with a little trepidation that I headed for the Shreyas Yoga Retreat, a small property located in southern India just one hour from Bengaluru (Bangalore), where the main focus is on Yoga.

Looking at the daily group schedule on arrival, I noted that Yogasana at 06h30 was followed by breakfast and Sound Mediation at 09h30, before treatments, lunch and some downtime were bookended by a further Yogasana session at 16h00, more downtime and then dinner. Although the spa seemed to offer a very comprehensive range of treatments, and a picturesque swimming pool always appeals, if I didn’t try the Yoga on offer I thought that I might be faced with long stretches with little to do except relax, enjoy a massage or read a book, (which are never bad ways to spend your days anyway).

A group Yoga class at Shreyas Retreat, India

So the alarm was set for 06h15, a quick banana was scoffed and I made my way to my first-ever Yoga class – which at Shreyas meant Hatha Yoga for all levels. The open-air session began with some chanting and a little prayer from our instructor before we gently started with some stretching exercises. These were broken up by brief periods of relaxing, deep breathing and reflection before we progressed to some poses – the aforementioned tiger, butterfly and cobra amongst them. Whilst all this was happening birds in the surrounding trees were chirping, trains which run on tracks alongside the property were quietly chuntering past, and a member of staff was walking amongst us wafting wonderful incense around, (similar to a Catholic priest swinging his thurible, but in this case essential to ward off the flies). I managed to raise a small sweat during the 90 minute class, but it was all very relaxing and, if I’m honest, a little spiritual.

The class ended with another blessing and prayer, after which we were offered the chance to take part in a ritual called Jala Neti. Thinking this would be more of the same, I put my hand up only to then discover that it was in fact a nasal rinsing practice, where a small plastic container – a neti pot – is filled with warm salty water which, with your head tilted at the correct angle, you then pour into one nostril, with the contents flooding out of the other. After a couple of spluttering botched attempts, I mastered it and my nose and head instantly felt clearer.

A wonderful Ayurvedic treatment at the spa was calling me and after a spot of lunch I decided to join the 16h00 group Yoga class, for my second-ever Yoga class. What followed was another 60 minutes of the same, trying to remember some of that morning’s moves and being gently encouraged along the way by the very sweet and charming instructor. That evening my aching bones felt a little less achy, and so I decided to sign up again for the following morning’s early start.

Over the next few days I got used to the chants, prayers, stretches & poses and did not miss a class for the rest of my stay, even enjoying some additional private aerial yoga lessons with instructor Mani, where I hung like a bat from the roof and stretched out strangely over the back of a chair.

Shreyas only has 13 rooms, (opt for a tented cottage in the spacious gardens, rather than a poolside cottage which have no outside space), so the guest-to-staff ratio and service levels are superb. Each staff member is also encouraged to join a daily yoga class, which only enhances their knowledge and understanding of the practice.

Aside from the yoga and spa, guests are also able to help prepare and deliver meals to a local orphanage, visit the local temples and markets, assist the gardeners or enjoy a cooking demonstration. The organic vegetarian food, sourced from the Estate’s very own gardens, is undoubtedly healthy but it did become a little repetitive, and the non-veggie might hunger after a piece of chicken or fish after a few days. The property’s Relais & Chateaux status is also, in my opinion, an irrelevance.

An example of the food served at Shreyas Retreat, India

Rather than dragging, (as I had first feared), my time at Shreyas flew by, and by the time of my departure I had become very accustomed to the cycle of early rising, chanting, praying, stretching, flushing(!), eating, relaxing, swimming and heading to bed early. Would I have enjoyed my time at Shreyas so much if I had not embraced Yoga? Definitely not. Would I recommend a stay there for non-Yogis? Probably not.

It is often said that for any wellness break to be truly effective, you must take something away with you to incorporate into your daily life. In this instance, I have succeeded on many levels – I joined the daily Yoga class at the property I stayed at after Shreyas, my little neti pot now sees active daily service, and I try to have a proper stretch and include a few of the Chinese zodiac symbols (!) into my morning routine.

The only thing this new-Yogi is now really missing, is the gentle chanting and swinging of the incense……

If this blog has got you interested in starting your wellness journey call our wellness advisors at 020 7843 3597 or enquire here.

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