I am the greatest believer in the fact that if you want to feel beautiful, then you need to surround yourself with it!
I found a ‘pearler’. Or rather it found me. Known as Shreyas (translated from Sanskrit as ‘most beautiful’), it is my special place for stillness, silence, peace and warmth. It enfolds me and hugs me like a friend – it is a friend, a very special friend located in the heart of Karnataka, India, away from smart phones, tablets, traffic, nail salons and cafes.
I remember first visiting Shreyas and being totally humbled and in awe of its calming influence, profound teachings, its gentle souls and its snail-pace.
In between ‘do-able’ Hatha yoga classes, unquestionably delicious and healthy cuisine, meditation, private lessons, exquisite Ayurvedic treatments and massages (did I mention swimming?), I would sometimes just sit on a bench in the garden and simply watch!
Staff don’t walk here, they glide. Always with their hand to their heart in greeting and with a gracefulness I have rarely encountered anywhere else in the world. It is actually surreal as though everyone is floating on air.
Of course, this suggests, that I had slowed down so much that I was stretching time and living fully in the present – ‘comatosed’ would be the best definition. Staying here, the past and future simply do not break through my reverie. I always emerge from the miasma of life even if just for a brief time.
I have been there four times now. It is my annual (thank you I am looking after myself time) and I shall return over and over.
By now I am beginning to learn everyone’s name. You would think so! But I would get my ‘Krishna’s’ mixed up with my ‘Sureshes’ and forget where I was, always thankful to be found wandering around the grounds by an observant staff member who recognised that I was lost and/or had completely ‘lost the plot’.
The teachers are divine. Always watching over us. There is a cleansing practise called Jala Neti where one uses a little pot to pour warm salt water through the nostrils. Ideal for people like me who suffer with hay fever etc. Ideal for anyone…really. One of the teachers told me she used to smile as soon as the word was mentioned because my face would contort and I would bolt out of the yoga Shala to hide amongst the trees. She will be pleased to know that finally after four visits I practise Jala Neti at home every single day. Does it work? Yes. So why did I avoid it all this time? Simple really…one of my brothers used to dunk me in the ocean and hold me under when I was a kid, and the sensation of salt water up my nose is a reminder of him trying to drown me. Another personal ‘issue’ subjugated.
Attention to detail is simple but so thoughtful. A tube of repellant set beside the yoga mat. The scent of Loban being waved through the yoga classes. Orange Oil burning. Hum Sa. So Hum.
Then there are the cooking classes. I don’t cook. I am brilliant at assembling food, but I simply don’t cook it. However, I love to eat. So I go to the classes because the chefs are so experienced and fun, and one can nibble along the way. I have it nailed. I take down the recipe, hand it over to any friend who accompanies me, and then suggest I come over to their place for dinner when I return to Australia. (I’ll bring the chocolate!).
As you may know, you do not wear shoes into any yoga space. So there are rows of shoes left on the steps. The thing that has always fascinated me is that at the end of the class, and every time I would leave the Shala, my shoes had been turned around so I could step into them and walk away. I was determined to one day grab a mental snapshot of who does that! Still I have never ‘caught’ anyone. The place is full of ‘shoe fairies’.
I always leave refreshed, slower, and a little taller, with snippets of philosophy I have picked up along the way reminding me of this beautiful yogic path.
“Love is flowing energy”.
“Time is the gift you have been given, use it fully”.
“Peace comes from wisdom, fear comes from ignorance”.
“Awareness travels with us through all incarnations”.
The other extremely satisfying aspect of Shreya’s is that you meet the same staff. All are encouraged to practise yoga daily (thus the gliding) and many have been with Shreya’s since its inception some 15 years ago. That in itself is a telling tale. Consistency and contentment.
The staff also have quirky, humorous retorts. Whilst being assisted into a challenging posture, one that I feel my spine had never visited before, I asked the question ‘Has anyone ever died doing yoga?”. The teacher’s quip was “yes, but they died healthy”!
Says it all really.
P.S. I am going back in 2019. You may like to come with me and for that reason I have created a 10-day retreat. Six spaces only. Join me? Or not! I am going anyway, and would love to see you/escort you/teach you. Then you can also take down the recipes and I shall have great delight in eating what you create.