Many of us would agree that life is more stressful now than ever before – and this is not just a subjective judgment. A team of researchers at Penn State found that study participants reported significantly more daily stress and lowered wellbeing in recent decades as compared to the 1990s.
These higher levels of stress can affect your body, your thoughts, feelings, and behavior. Stress that’s left unchecked can contribute to many health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.
Taking time for self-care and relaxation can go a long way toward negating the effects of daily stress. Who says you have to head off to Bora Bora on a weeklong yoga retreat to recharge and reconnect with yourself? A home yoga routine can provide nearly all the benefits of a destination retreat, without the cost and headache of travel. In fact, creating a yoga retreat at home is a novel way to revitalize your body, renew your mind, and refresh your spirit.
You can create an at-home retreat that feels like a mini-vacation. The key is to take some time that is dedicated to being indulgent. A single day or even a long weekend dedicated to yourself and your practice can feed your soul.
Here are the 12 steps to create your own stress-relieving yoga and wellness retreat at home.
Set the date
Look at your calendar and choose a day or a weekend that you can reserve for yourself. Make arrangements for friends and family members to give you the time and space you need.
Set up your retreat space
Clutter steals your attention, energy, and time. Before you can transform your home into a personal retreat setting, you will need to tidy up. Wash laundry, pay bills, put some clean sheets on the bed, and water the houseplants. Sprucing up your space liberates energy and frees your attention for more meaningful projects.
You may want to prepare items like calming music, essential oils, candles, and crystals to set up your retreat space.
Plan your nourishment
Plan out how you will nourish your body during your retreat. If you love to cook, then feel free to cook your own food, taking time to research recipes and gather ingredients in advance. If cooking stresses you out, money spent at the local juice bar or on healthy takeout will be well worth the investment.
Some recipes you could consider, include:
- Green Juice
- Carrot Soup
- Kitchari (an Ayurvedic split pea and rice dish)
- Sprouted bread
- Acai smoothie bowl
- Bliss balls
- Fresh fruit
- Cauliflower curry
- Lemon water and herbal teas for hydration
Create your practice
Choose two yoga sessions to do during your retreat day, aiming for an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon. If you have an active and invigorating practice in the morning, then you can be more meditative and introspective in the afternoon, working on alignment and restoration. You don’t need to be a yoga expert – simply hop online and bookmark a couple of free yoga videos with instructors you enjoy.
On the day before your retreat, or in the morning when you wake up, take some time to reflect on your intentions for the time you’ve set aside for yourself. An intention is a guiding principle for how you want to be, live, and show up in the world—during meditation, yoga, or any area of your life.
Ask yourself, what matters most to you? Your answer could form a powerful intention, for which you can align your thoughts for your meditation—and the intention doesn’t need to stop when the meditation ends. It can then guide your actions as you move through your day.
Ditch the devices
During your retreat, switch off your phone and resist checking your email. Give yourself this little bit of time to disconnect from the distractions and demands of the digital world. Research shows the health benefits of unplugging: It lowers blood pressure, heart rate, cortisol, and helps you sleep better.
Now you can plan what you would like to do for the rest of your retreat. In between your yoga sessions, you could choose to read, meditate, draw, write, take naps, or do other restorative activities.
Here are some ideas to maximize the enjoyment and benefits of your retreat.
Clear your mind
Aim to include a couple of meditation sessions during your retreat day. Whether you take five minutes to simply close your eyes and breathe deeply, or set yourself up for a nice long meditation session, take time to simply breathe, be still, and go inward. Again, you don’t need to be an expert – check out meditations on Youtube or with a free app like Headspace or Insight Timer.
Enjoy fresh air
During your retreat, make time to get outside and take your shoes off. Walk with your bare feet in some grass and lean against a tree and breathe deeply. Lie down and look at the sky. Connect to the idea that your stress and tension are being absorbed by the earth.
Try going to your local woods or forest to hang out and ‘bathe’ in nature. ‘Forest bathing’ or ‘shinrin yoku’, as it is known in Japan where the practice originates, has been proven to reduce stress hormone production, improve feelings of happiness, and enhance creativity. It can also help lower the heart rate and blood pressure while boosting the immune system and accelerating recovery from illness.
Reflection & journaling
Be sure to make space for connection and reflection in between the more active and focused parts of your retreat. Journaling is a method of processing the deeper aspects of your nature. Through journaling, you may uncover parts of your past that need to be healed, present thoughts and emotions you’ve been harboring, and intentions for your future that need to be voiced. Commit to journaling for at least 15 minutes during your retreat day. Allow yourself to write freely, without worrying about content, grammar, or penmanship. You may be surprised at what you discover.
Why not show your hard-working body some love and try an at-home spa treatment. You can pamper yourself with ingredients found in the kitchen cabinet, such as a honey face mask, a sea salt scrub, or an avocado hair treatment.
Give yourself space to rest
While there are many wonderful things you can do on your retreat day, make sure you don’t pack the day too full. It’s supposed to be restorative, not stressful! Leave at least a couple hours of the day unplanned, so you can rest and unwind. Sit in the sunshine, take a bath, or just have a nap. You’re allowed to simply rest!
Plan your next retreat
After you’re finished your retreat day, you should feel rejuvenated, restored, and renewed. Take some time to reflect on what went well, what you enjoyed, and what you might change for next time.
Why not set a date for your next retreat? This will help you create the space in your busy schedule to take some time out and create a fresh outlook. You could also think about how you would like to bring a small part of your retreat practices into your daily morning or evening routine, to get a little taste of peace a little more often.