When it comes to yoga retreats in India, few shine as brightly as Shreyas. Now, the Relais & Chateaux venue has just unveiled the newest addition to its retreat: the sprawling Anaha Spa. To learn more about Shreyas’s array of wellness options – and just what makes its spa so destination-worthy – we caught up with representative Nidhe Sood.
When it comes to yoga retreats in India, few shine as brightly
as Shreyas. Located in a gorgeously rural tract of
southern Karnataka, just outside of Bangalore, Shreyas - which
means "all-round excellence" - has earned acclaim for its stylish
facilities, individualised yoga offerings, and healing Ayurvedic
Now, the Relais & Chateaux venue has just unveiled the
newest addition to its retreat: the sprawling Anaha Spa. Designed as an oasis-like "retreat
within a retreat," it was also named the Best Boutique Spa in India
at this year's Outlook Traveller Boutique Hotel Awards. To learn
more about Shreyas's array of wellness options - and just what
makes its spa so destination-worthy - we caught up with
representative Nidhe Sood.
The new Anaha Spa has already
been named the Best Boutique Spa in India © Shreyas
Greaves: Tell us about Shreyas's history. What
inspired the owners to first establish the
Nidhe Sood: 'Shreyas was founded by an investment banker, Pawan
Malik, who believed that success in the adrenaline-charged,
stressful world of modern business could be complemented by yoga.
As a qualified yoga teacher himself, his conviction that
spirituality and self-discovery are essential in modern life helped
lay the foundation for Shreyas.
The primary goal of Shreyas is to integrate the many facets and
benefits of yoga into visitors' daily lives, but without the
austerity and rigour usually associated with traditional ashrams.
Shreyas was designed to fill the gap between ashrams and exclusive
luxury resorts; here, guests from around the world can access
authentic yoga and meditation practices, but can enjoy creature
comforts as well.'
Shreyas is located outside of Bangalore in southern
Karnataka. What makes this part of India special?
'Shreyas is set in the countryside beyond the city, and away
from the typical tourist circuit - it's an ideal location for
guests looking to recharge their batteries and unwind in a secluded
environment. We're surrounded by rural villages and brightly
painted temples, and are also within reach of a number of places of
historic importance and natural beauty: Hampi, Mysore, Halebidu,
Coorg, Kerala, etc.
As it's situated high up on the Deccan Plateau,
Bangalore enjoys cooler, less humid weather than most of the rest
of the country. In April, just when the weather begins to get hot
all over northern and central India, Bangalore has April showers
which help to keep the weather cool. The monsoon itself is not
heavy like in the coastal regions of India, and neither are the
winters very cold. That means Shreyas is ideal as a year-round
The spa's clean, stylish design
is the perfect backdrop for wellness treatments © Shreyas
What is Shreyas's wellness
'Athithi devo bhava is the defining
philosophy at Shreyas. It literally means: "A guest is to be served
as God." We respect the philosophy that "all are essentially
divine," and our relationships with each other should reflect
Shreyas is an exclusive retreat which looks to immerse guests in
a spiritual way of life without sacrificing worldly comforts - yoga
is the principal medium through which we communicate the message of
"living life completely." We want to demonstrate that yoga can
be learnt and practiced by all, irrespective of age, health and
faith. Everything here, from the landscape, organic garden and
guest accommodation to the yoga pavilion, meditation hut and
food is created with the philosophy of yoga in mind.'
What is the yoga programme like at Shreyas? Which
different styles of yoga do you offer?
'Yoga at Shreyas is much more than the traditional physical
postures; it also has a highly spiritual component.
Both Hatha Yoga (which aims at harmonising
the prana - life force - in the body) and
Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga (which consists of carefully sequenced and
flowing postures) are practiced at Shreyas. Guests have the option
to participate in our complimentary, twice-daily yoga sessions, or
enjoy personalised yoga experiences that are included in our
packages. Our yoga offerings also feature pranyama (breathing
related) and pratyahara (internalisation) processes drawn from the
ancient Yoga Sutras.
Our yoga retreats range from 3 -14 nights, are available
throughout the year, and are customised for each guest according to
their level of experience. For those who would like to delve deeper
into the ancient spiritual tradition of yoga, we also offer
retreats that go beyond the physical aspects of yoga, and which
include practices like karma yoga (selfless work), yoga nidra (deep
relaxation), and trataka (candle meditation).'
Panchakarma is an integral part
of Shreyas's Ayurvedic treatments © Shreyas
Can you tell us more about Panchakarma and the other
Ayurvedic treatments available at Shreyas?
'Originating some 5,000 years ago, Ayurveda is the oldest
healthcare system in the world. But it is more than a system of
healing - it is also a science and art of living that helps us to
achieve health and longevity. It emphasises preventative and
healing therapies along with various methods of purification and
rejuvenation. At Shreyas, all treatments are authentic,
traditional, and highly individualised.
Panchakarma is an integral part of Ayurveda, which helps achieve
a balanced state of body, mind and consciousness through
detoxification and rejuvenation.
Depending on each individual's needs, a range of five different
traditional Ayurvedic therapies are utilised for Panchakarma.
Specially trained therapists administer these procedures in a
definite sequence for a specified period of time.'
Ayurveda seeks to restore
balance in mind, body, and spirit © Shreyas
For guests who've never tried Ayurveda before, what
are some important things to know?
'The most important tenet of Ayurveda is achieving a state of
balance between mind, body, and spirit. Ayurveda believes diseases
are caused when this balance is disturbed - therefore, this
holistic healing system doesn't address the symptoms of a disease.
Instead, it goes to the root causes and seeks to restore balance.
As such, Ayurveda is highly personalised, as each person's
imbalance is unique.
At Shreyas, we do a detailed, holistic health evaluation to
determine and design individual treatment plans. Guests can plan to
meet with doctors and discuss their treatment plan; as such,
information about guests' medical history and health check-ups is
helpful. We offer authentic Ayurvedic treatments and can also
assist visitors with rare medical conditions.'
Alongside the wellness offerings, what are the most
tantalising luxuries available at Shreyas?
'Shreyas accommodates just 25 guests at one time, which affords
the rare luxury of being cared for in a secluded, private and
serene environment. Belying the idea that a yoga retreat means
roughing it, cottages at Shreyas are built for comfort; we have
eight garden cottages with tented canopies, open-air shower rooms
and private courtyards, as well as three poolside cottages and one
Facilities for our guests include an infinity
pool, steam room, heated outdoor Jacuzzi, library,
gymnasium, jogging trail, cricket nets with a professional bowling
machine, and even a home theatre. All this is perfectly
complemented by rejuvenating massages and our organic, vegetarian
cuisine, which is designed to ensure that guests leave refreshed in
body, mind and spirit.'
In addition to yoga and
Ayurveda, the Anaha Spa offers a wide range of spa treatments ©
You recently won an award for Best Boutique Spa in
India. What is it that makes Shreyas's spa different from the
'Our brand new spa, Anaha, is designed to be a "retreat within a
retreat." From age-old Ayurvedic treatments to modern therapies,
from naturopathy to a wide range of massages, Anaha provides a
wealth of wellness experiences.
The first floor is dedicated to the practice of yoga, with one
outdoor and two indoor yoga halls. We also offer two meditation and
yoga pavilions, which are lit by natural sunlight. Within the large
pavilion, guests will find a further series of private yoga and
meditation areas, to complete the wellness experience.'
The sprawling facility has
become one of India's must-visit wellness destinations ©
Beyond Ayurveda, what other treatments and
programmes are available at the Anaha Spa?
'In addition to Ayurveda and panchakarma, the spa also has four
rooms dedicated to Western massages, two rooms for mud therapy and
Thai massage, and a separate naturopathy section with three rooms
for hydrotherapy, acupressure and acupuncture. Other treatments and
offerings include a spinal spray, hipbath Jacuzzi with hydro jets,
colon hydrotherapy, steam and sauna rooms and a Vichy shower. The
spa also features a gymnasium and yoga and meditation
Outside, the spa includes meditation areas, a salon and
gymnasium connected with sunken courts and open lounge spaces. We
will also be adding a reflexology path and herb garden, which
allows guests to interact with nature.
For relaxation and leisure, the spa block additionally offers
beautifully designed lounging spaces, an organic juice bar and a
Shreyas boutique, where visitors can pick up souvenirs, books,
organic herbs, fresh preserves, and more. There is also an on-site
salon for our signature scrubs and facials, as well as manicures,
pedicures, and hair care.'