How to Create a DIY Yoga Retreat When You Can’t Travel
By Mackenzie Berg
You know that feeling you get after finishing a yoga session—that inner peace, renewed focus and refreshed sense of vitality? Imagine how this would impact your body, mind and wellness if you were able to spend several days or more focused solely on yoga, clean eating and overall wellness.
While nothing can compete with getting away from it all on a ‘destination yoga retreat’, most of us probably have to save up and plan for them far in advance. The cost can add up quickly depending on how far you might have to travel and taking the time off work can be tough. If you have a partner and kids, taking solo time is even harder.
However, the benefits of a retreat don’t have to be something we only dream about for months or even years. These are not experiences we should have to yearn for, save pennies for or suffer for! And thankfully, we don’t have to.
When it’s not possible to fly away to a palm tree perfect paradise complete with a personal chef, there are still plenty of easy, affordable ways to create a yoga retreat in your own home. Here’s what to consider when planning your own yoga staycation:
Time Travel takes us away from the distractions and urgencies of daily life, so staying at home can make it a bit harder to give ourselves the permission to truly be on retreat. Whether you have just a few hours, a few days or a whole week or more, determine a set length of time and really commit to ‘booking’ this time for yourself. Then, let the people in your life know when you plan to be out of reach and prepare your out-of-office messages for work just like you would for a trip.
Digital Disconnect At the start of your retreat, turn off your phone, computer, television, radio and any other device that normally keeps you tied in to information and obligations. Make this time completely your own for the length that you’ve determined to ensure that you get the maximum benefit of relaxation and focus.
Goals Determine what you want to achieve from your retreat. Are there new poses or is there a particular style of yoga that you want to focus on? This is a great time to try out new forms. Map out different studios and classes for each day and find a groove that you really connect with. If you’ve wanted to try a new discipline for a long time, let this be a chance to shake up your normal practice, with the space to fully immerse in the responses you will feel in your body and mind.
For decompression and rejuvenation from your busy life, schedule in time for meditation. Guided meditation podcasts are an abundant and wonderful resource—look on iTunes or around the Internet for the free downloadable episodes with the highest ratings.
Location Having a yoga vacation at home doesn’t mean you can’t go anywhere. Search popular coupon sites such as Groupon or Living Social to find restaurants, spa treatments, yoga classes and other ways to take yourself out during your retreat. Schedule at least one massage or facial and let someone else work out those knots. In your own spaces, surround yourself with books, blankets and cushions, fresh flowers and scented candles. Go on walks or ride your bike outdoors in the early morning or late evening when the rest of the world is also going at a slower pace, and take time to really observe your local environment, engaging all five senses.
Eat Create a vegetarian menu of organic, cleansing foods to nourish you while encouraging detoxification in the body. Or treat yourself with visits to a favorite or new dining spot in town, so you don’t have to cook or do the dishes. As much as possible, cut out sugar, caffeine, alcohol and processed foods. Green juices and smoothies are a wonderful way to start the morning or to recharge after a yoga session. Try making kitchari, a powerfully cleansing meal for yogis.
Tip: If you like, take your food outdoors: sip tea or kombucha next to a backyard chimenea or among a scattering of candles on the porch or balcony.
Reflect and Recharge Consider daily journaling, either in the morning or at the close of your day, or both. Focus on setting intentions when you wake up, and then being as present and mindful as possible with each portion of your retreat. In the evenings, process what thoughts or lessons took hold of you that day.
Tip: Don’t forget that one thing most of us never get enough of: sleep! Try some relaxation poses to ease you into restful slumber.
As anyone who has been through a yoga retreat will tell you, the benefits are numerous and often life-shifting. With a little planning and the same dedication you would give to one that you travel to, a DIY retreat can leave you with new perspectives, renewed spirits, a detoxed body and cleaner eating habits, and above all a far happier wallet.