How To Create A Yoga Retreat In Your Own Home
Perhaps you've already been practicing yoga at home and you're looking to go deeper, or maybe you're just eager to make yoga part of your new routine. Wherever you are in your yoga journey, if you're spending more time at home these days, consider elevating your practice with an at-home yoga retreat.
I teamed up with my yogi teammates at Three Jewels—an NYC, and now, virtual studio—to share ways to recreate a yoga retreat experience in your own home. Sure, your home won't be able to exactly mimic the experience of the beachside yoga escape you might envision when you think "yoga retreat," but you'll still be able to reap some of the benefits from your little corner of the world.
In fact, if you're sheltering-in-place, it's actually a great time to give an immersive yoga experience a try. Now, free from many of the usual distractions of the outside world, it can allow you to go deeper inside the body and mind. Additionally, the social distancing of today has an uncanny resemblance to the solitude that yogis have been carving out to enrich their work since the inception of the practice.
These suggestions below are framed around what to do leading up to and during a one-day retreat, but feel free to repeat and repurpose as you'd like. Maybe you'd like to devote three days to an at-home retreat, or maybe you'll even feel inspired to incorporate one element into your daily routine.
The day (or days) before.
Before diving into your at-home retreat, you may want to prepare a few things in advance so you can ease into your Zen experience:
The goal of a retreat is to decide that—regardless of what is going on outside, you're going to check in with what's going on inside. This means you won't just be practicing yoga, you'll be setting intentions that allow you to truly tap into your inner thoughts and creating barriers that separate you from the typical distractions of the outside world. Think of it as going on a vacation in your own mind.
Setting intentions is an important part of any retreat. Why are you going into this? What do you hope to achieve?
Tie up any loose ends.
Take care of any emails you need to send or calls you need to make. You want your mind to be able to fully relax on your retreat day, and if something is nagging at you, this will make it more difficult.
Wind down technology.
As part of this process, you're going to slow—and eventually stop—your electronic device usage. The point of a retreat is to retreat into yourself—you don't want things that are not your choice dictating what your mind should do.
Begin mentally preparing.
Start adjusting your mindset the night before. Wind down and begin thinking ahead to the head space you'd like to achieve the next day. Consider the intentions you set as you're easing into the first day.
Create a calming space.
Set up a space that feels safe for you. Maybe that means including candles, specific scents, or an array of cushions. Lean into what makes you feel most comforted and at ease. On the day of your retreat, consider sealing doors and windows to minimize sights and sounds of the outside world. That said, sunlight is encouraged.
The day of your at-home retreat.
The day has arrived! Here are a few steps to follow for your most blissful at-home yoga retreat possible.
Wake up early.
Get up around sunrise to really sync-up with the natural rhythm of the world.
Focus on your intention.
Check in with what you would like to achieve and become today. Don't get out of bed until you've had a moment to really ground yourself in that intention.
Then, meditate on that intention before you get started. You'll want to do this about four, equally spaced, times throughout the course of the day.
Start with a yoga sequence.
Immerse yourself in literature.
Consider reading a text from Buddhist and Yogic teachings during your retreat. It may allow you to go deeper into your practice and meditate on concepts.
Write things down.
Journal as you go throughout the day. What feelings are you drumming up? What would you like to focus on? What are you noticing? What is surprising to you?
Opt for healthy meals.
Most retreats have participants eat vegetarian or vegan—so consider this as you're choosing your meals for the day. Think more plant-based, whole foods and less meat or processed meals.
At the end of the day.
After your at-home yoga retreat is complete, dedicate your retreat to something. Who do you want this experience to benefit? How do you want this to reshape the world? Remember, taking the time to better yourself has a ripple effect.
From there, allow yourself to ease back into everyday life slowly. Can you give yourself a couple of hours in the evening to reacclimate? Or the morning of the next day? Be sure to celebrate what you've accomplished. Maybe cook a beautiful meal, listen to your favorite music, or take a luxurious bath.
Finally, take time to acknowledge how you feel different from when you started. This is a rare opportunity to check in with yourself, to leverage the alone time and strengthen your relationship with your own mind. This "retreat" might be difficult—it might be hard to wind down, to separate yourself from the anxieties of the outside world—but that's OK. Just because a retreat is challenging does not mean that it is not successful; in fact, oftentimes, it's quite the opposite. Let yourself feel how you feel, and treat every thought like something to be investigated. If you enter with curiosity and kindness for yourself, you can only have a rewarding experience.
Rachel Webb is the Executive Director at Three Jewels in NYC — which aims to reintegrate yoga, meditation and the philosophy of Tibetan Buddhism to achieve inner wisdom and love. She has trained simultaneously in yoga and mental health for the past decade and in Tibetan Buddhism for the past 5 years. She has completed a meditation teacher training and private yoga teacher training in 2017 and is en route to complete a 6 year Buddhist philosophy training in 2019. She is a peer coach for social workers using the Motivational Interviewing counseling technique. She has over 6 years of experience working with people diagnosed with serious mental illness assisting them in achieving wellness goals.