How to Set Up Your Own At-Home Yoga Retreat
The weekend is finally here…but you’re stressed and tired from a grueling work week! Why not make the most of your weekend to rest and recharge in one of the most invigorating, centering ways possible? Yoga Journal had a great idea: treat yourself to a yoga retreat. The best part is, you don’t even need to go anywhere or pay anyone!
Your Own At-Home Yoga Retreat, Simplified:
Wipe Your Calendar:
If you can, you can allocate 3-4 days for the best effects of a bonafide yoga retreat. But for most of us, vacation time on a whim isn’t plausible, so a weekend will do if you make the most of it! Make sure you rearrange or cancel any commitments so you aren’t interrupted from your Zen at all; make it the same as if you were going on vacation, and make yourself unavailable to the outside world.
Practice Both AM & PM:
Now that your calendar is clear and your routine is reset, you have all day to do your favorite thing: practice yoga. Take advantage of it! You can either buy a class card or pass from a local studio, or you can easily practice at home to really capture the retreat ambiance. You can stream classes straight into your living room, or follow your usual, self-led practice. You’ll really start to feel the effects of a twice-a-day practice versus only once, or a handful of times during the week. It allows you the inner connection you usually get during a yoga session, only it takes you deeper. Kino MacGregor, founder of Miami Life Center, suggests, “If you have one really active practice in the morning, then you can be more meditative and introspective in the afternoon, working on alignment and therapeutics. It creates a holistic program.”
Find a Friend:
Looking to spend some extra quality time with a best friend? Need to make up your Valentine’s Day disaster to your significant other? This is the perfect time to bond for a weekend of health and wholeness. You get to spend time together getting set up for the retreat, grabbing snacks, drinks, and meals, and whatever yoga accessories you may want. And then you get to spend an entire weekend together, totally at peace and tuned away from any conflict.
Cut the Cords:
It’s time to imagine you’re on an island somewhere far, far away. Of course you don’t have cell reception or WiFi! Turn off your cellphone and stash your laptop somewhere where you won’t be tempted to grab it. This is the perfect weekend to try a tech detox, and you’ll be amazed at the mental results after you’re done! It even has some health benefits, according to Levi Felix, co-founder of The Digital Detox, “It lowers blood pressure, lowers heart rate, lowers cortisol, and helps us sleep better.” Perfect for a retreat.
When you’re not on the yoga mat, be sure to turn your gaze inward. You can get in some great meditation sessions in (even if you’re new to it!) when you’re not being bugged by the outside world 24/7! Be sure to journal what’s going on internally, as well. Now that you’ve unplugged, you have time to return to your favorite hobbies, as well, such as reading, writing, or drawing. Do whatever restores you.
You’ve gone to the hard work of setting up this retreat, so make sure you enjoy it. Indulge in healthy treats that will help your yoga practice, like honey and whole Greek yogurt, fresh fruit, or your favorite (non-routine; this is vacation, remember?) smoothie. And what would a relaxation weekend be without a little spa action? Make your own, all-natural facials. Take a long bath with natural oils, candles, and tranquil music. If you have a friend over, trade massages (it’s okay if you only know how to do feet!). If you don’t mind leaving the house, you can always stop by the professional spas on the way home from your yoga class, as well.
Get Some Shut-Eye…Seriously:
As much as meditation can recharge you, there isn’t much better for refreshing and healing your body than a good night’s sleep. So tuck into bed early, but don’t be a bedbug. If you can manage it, try to rise and sleep with the sun to reset your circadian rhythm.
A Daily Hygiene Routine for Yogis
Ayurveda is the 5,000 year old sister science of yoga; it translates to “knowledge of life” in Sanskrit. Rooted in the elements of the earth and cosmos, Ayurvedic classifications or doshas include vata, kapha and pitta. The Ayurvedic practice of dinacharya, or “law of nature,” consists of daily self-care routines that promote balance in body, mind and spirit. Join sages and yogis around the world and add the practices below to your daily hygiene routine.
Wake Before the Sun
Morning is a time of quiet connection. Once the sun is in the sky, the clock of Ayurveda signals it is time to move and be productive. Waking early to begin the day offers a chance to connect energetically with self, rather than your inbox, first thing in the morning.
The morning boasts fresh energy and serenity, so it serves as an important time for meditation. Find a few quiet moments to breathe and work your way to a longer meditation over time. Return to mindfulness through meditation at the end of the day, which supports more restful sleep.
Swoosh oil, such as sunflower, coconut or sesame, around your gums and teeth for a few minutes each day. Oil pulling is effective in removing toxins and parasites, which reside in the nooks and crannies between teeth and in the gums. Work your way from 1-2 minutes to 15-20 minutes. Spit the oil in the trash when you are done and rinse your mouth with water.
Known as Abhyanga in Ayurveda, self-massaging is often practiced in the morning and/or evening. It calms the nervous system, improves immunity, softens skin, and tones muscle. Use warm oil, such as coconut or sesame (depending on your dosha). Start at your scalp and extremities, then work your way towards your heart. Follow your massage with a warm bath or shower.
Now commonly found in drugstores, tongue scraping is an ancient Ayurvedic technique. Try this practice in the morning: during your sleep, toxins and other organisms your body cannot process accumulate on your tongue.
This Ayurvedic technique requires silk gloves or a dry skin brush. Start with your extremities and brush toward your heart, with the exception of brushing down the back and spine. This practice drains the lymphatic system and stimulates movement of energy. Take a warm shower or practice self-massage afterwards.
Morning and evening meals should be light in comparison to your lunch. Afternoon is usually the best time of day for your heaviest meal. Agni, or digestive energy, is usually in full force in the afternoon. Avoid eating heavy meals before bed, as this will disrupt your sleep.
Head to Bed Early
Begin your evening ritual around 8:30pm to ensure a restful transition to bedtime. Unwinding with a book or a bath and avoiding screen time are important aspects of good bedtime hygiene. This routine may prevent late-night snacking. Around 10pm, pitta energy kicks back in which may spark a “second wind” and inhibit true rest.