Yoga In Paradise
A tropical escape to nurture your mind, body and soul is found hidden deep in the heart of the ancient Daintree rainforest in Far North Queensland.
Prema Shanti Yoga and Meditation Retreat is designed to rejuvenate body and spirit. Set in a secluded, peaceful environment amidst a tropical jungle it is a place of both nature and nurture.
The centre is filled with a spiritual energy stemming from Eastern traditions but not devoted to any particular religion. It focusses on self-realisation and embracing your own divinity. The surrounding landscape is steeped in Aboriginal mythology, so you are able to imbibe both the spiritual energy and the sacred beliefs that reside here in the world’s oldest rainforest.
On arrival we are greeted and orientated by our host Janardhan. Everything is explained including the period of noble silence, which is adhered to each evening and extends until after the following morning’s meditation. We also receive detailed instruction on the techniques and philosophies of meditation and OM-ing. “We do a lot of OM-ing around here.” Janardhan laughs.
Early morning meditations (beginning with 21 sacred OMs!) set a tranquil tone for the day and give you a grounded connection to the beautiful nature surrounding you.
The rooms are basic but clean and comfortable, with the rainforest just beyond your door. The heart of the centre is the large common area above, which has a wraparound wooden verandah and a sacred temple space in the centre where yoga and meditation classes are held. Overlooking lush tropical vegetation, the verandah has two separate lounge areas, an egg-shaped hanging swing seat, and a couple of wide, extremely comfortable hammocks that cocoon and take you inward. A private little nook exists for everybody.
Dining is also on the verandah, and guests enjoy a communal breakfast at a long, low table designed to promote social interaction and friendly conversation. I’m delightfully surprised at the interesting people I meet, enjoying their stories and fascinated by their individual journeys. Prema Shanti is a space for personal introspection and I use this interaction as a mirror for self-reflection.
After breakfast the day is your own to indulge in reflection and relaxation, or to explore the many natural wonders that border the retreat.
Being nestled in the rainforest means there’s an abundance of stunning nature walks nearby, with eco-systems that alternate between dense jungle forests, ferny palm groves, and swampy mangrove wetlands.
The highlight of our stay was experiencing the swimming holes known as the Blue Pool and the Green Pool. These swimming holes are sacred to the Aboriginal people and according to legend this is where the Rainbow Serpent rested whilst creating the Australian landscape, leaving traces of his bright colours behind. Scientifically, the vibrant blue and green colour of the waters is attributed to elevated levels of minerals that have leeched out of the mountains upstream. This is said to give the pools healing properties, with locals dubbing them ‘the fountain of youth’.
The energy here is tangible. It’s a place where people go to wash away their stresses and allow their spiritual centre to emerge. Guests at Prema Shanti are advised to bathe in the pools as soon as they arrive, Janardhan likening it to a Baptism, and many regret not having discovered them until the end of their stay. My partner was captivated by this revered place and visited it daily.
The Green Pool is accessible to all, but the Blue Pool has a local Aboriginal custom of being a female only swimming hole. This stems from stories of Aboriginal women having used this spot to bathe for millennia. Some stories say that any man who swims there will become infertile, whilst others say that men need only ask permission of the spirits before entering.
I spent a blissful morning gliding through soft, clear iridescent blue waters, surrounded by dense green undergrowth interspersed with palms and tree ferns. Jungle vines dangled over the riverbank, and long pieces of artistically shaped driftwood provided a resting island in the middle of the deep blue pool. At one with this magical environment I became a creature of the rainforest. If you’re lucky enough to be there by yourself you will feel like Adam or Eve in the Garden of Eden.
If it’s exotic wildlife you’re after, Prema Shanti is located in a cassowary hot spot. This majestic king of the rainforest is the world’s third largest bird after the ostrich and emu, and to my absolute delight we came across a cassowary and his chick casually strolling down the middle of the road. It was like being in Jurassic Park as these prehistoric looking creatures calmly did their dinosaur strut, completely un-phased by passing traffic and tourists excitedly snapping pictures out of car windows.
Other off-site nature-based activities include snorkelling the pristine reef, or a long walk down a palm fringed beach.
These sublime experiences will root you in the present moment.
If it’s a less threatening style of wildlife you seek, back at the resort you may be lucky enough to spot the adorable musk rat, Australia’s smallest kangaroo. And there’s a wide variety of tropical rainforest birdlife to catch your eye as you gently sway on the verandah hammock; their lilting songs become nature’s lullaby as they send you drifting off to sleep.
Evenings at the retreat start with a yoga class run by Mara, our other host. These small, customised classes allow for specific, individualised attention and leave you feeling centred and energised. Afterwards, Janardhan and Mara join us for a communal dinner where we all enjoy generous servings of delicious, nutritious home-made food and chat about the day’s events, with discussions often leading to issues of a deeper nature.
There is no television, mobile or internet connection at the resort which deepens the feeling of peaceful seclusion in nature. Noble silence begins at 9.30pm which allows the mind time free from external distractions. I find these times to be the most insightful and creative. Silence truly is golden.
The retreat is offered as a package which includes accommodation, daily yoga and meditation, and morning and evening meals.
The unique advantage of this retreat is that it can be used in different ways depending on what your goals are. Prema Shanti provides everything you need to create a soulful space where you can reflect and be drawn to deeper interpretations of your world. Due to its location, it also provides the perfect base to explore and experience the awe inspiring natural wonders that exist in the Daintree and Cape Tribulation region. You get to create your own off-site/on-site, nature/nurture experience.
What is your soul calling for?
Copyright July 2012