8 Simple Steps to Your Own At Home Retreat

My home retreat included plenty of mat-time fun. I love Elena Bower’s Art of Attention yoga workbook. It’s truly beautiful and a wonderful companion for a deeper dive into your personal practice.

If you’ve ever been on a retreat, or even a good holiday, you’ll know that awesome feeling of jumping off the treadmill of the daily grind and diving into legitimate me-time.  Time to decompress, relax, and remember what’s important.

We all need regular time-outs but most of us don’t have the time or money for frequent holidays or retreats. Have no fear, yoga teaches us we have everything we need right here, always.

We can honour the power of the inward pull within the existing structure of our lives and from our very own home!

I found myself with a weekend home alone recently so I decided to supercharge that time with intention and turn the weekend into a home retreat.

If you’re interested in setting up your own home retreat, here are eight simple steps:

  • Set an intention

As always, when we’re setting out to do something we need to get super clear on why. What’s the intention? How will you most benefit from a retreat? What’s missing in your life that you’d like to invite in? What would really nourish and nurture you? What do you need right now? What energy would you like to call in? What old, unhealthy patterns would you like to release for good?

A large portion of my retreat was devoted to binge-reading the yoga sutras. What a joy to have an extended period of time without interruptions to really dive in!

There’s a spectrum from suffering to bliss and we get to choose where we sit on that spectrum. Are we orienting to life from a point of stress on that spectrum or a point of ease? We get to chose!! How awesome is that?! If your current orientation to life isn’t bringing you joy then a time-out to reassess might be just the ticket. Create some space in your life so you can get back in the drivers seat and shift gears.

With that in mind, the intention behind my home retreat was to create a space to drop into ease and to enjoy life. To simplify everything for a weekend: to do less and enjoy more.

  • Commit

Decide how long you want your retreat to be. You might have just a few hours, a morning or an evening, a whole day or weekend. When you’re clear on how long you want and need, schedule it into the diary and safeguard that time with your life!  You wouldn’t cancel or mess about on a date with a good friend (I hope) and radical self-care starts by treating yourself as you would your best friend.  There’s that choice point again, what kind of friend are we going to be to ourselves? We get to choose!

emptycupIf you’re worried about taking time out for yourself because you think it’s selfish or you have too much to do, remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup.  Self-care isn’t an indulgence, it’s a necessity. When we take time out for self-care we fill our cup, which means we step back into our lives with more to offer those around us and more energy and clarity to do the things that really matter. You’ve got to put your own oxygen mask on first, right?

  • diaryandflowersDesign a schedule

Here’s the fun bit, you get to design your own retreat schedule. The beauty of an at-home-retreat is that you can do whatever you want. You can paint, draw, write, read, nap, do yoga, meditate, journal, take long baths, bake…anything and any combination of things you want. You’re the boss. Which means you can combine things that wouldn’t normally appear together in a standard retreat. Pizza and in-depth study of the yoga sutras anyone? Just me then. What makes your heart sing?

Create a container

The space where you plan to retreat (your home in this instance)  and your intention for this time are the container for your experience. The stronger the container the deeper you’ll be able to dive into the experience. With that it mind…

  • Write out your commitments

What do you need to do (or not do!) during this retreat time? What are your ground rules, or commitments? Write it down.

I commit to keeping my laptop switched off

I commit to keeping my phone off

I commit to not going on social media

I commit to doing only one thing at a time

I commit to enjoying each moment

  • Make your space sacred

ganeshMake the space for your retreat sacred through intentional clearing the day before. Retreat time is not the time to tidy the house or do chores so make sure everything is in place and looking gorgeous ahead of the retreat.

You can even set up an altar as a centre point, with flowers, candles and your commitments and intentions written down on a piece of paper.  All this serves as a reminder that you’re doing something special and worthy.

  • Unplug

What’s so refreshing about many retreats is that they force us to unplug. We can recreate this ritual container by doing the same thing at home; put the phone down, move away from the screen, turn off the electronics, unplug the wifi. Watch time slow down and space open up almost instantly.

Seriously, let go of all distractions. Do a total media detox. If reading is on your schedule then make sure it’s intentional, forget newspapers or magazines, read something inspirational, something that speaks to your intention for the retreat. Remember, this is time out from the humdrum, make it special.

  • Get everything you need in place
Pizza-making was one of the fun activities on my schedule. I love making healthy, vegan pizza. This one has super healthy spinach pesto with cashew cheese AND the base is made from cauliflower – total NOM NOM – and I don’t even like cauliflower all that much.

You don’t want to be running around shopping for stuff while on retreat so get all the yummy food you’ll need ahead of time. If you don’t like cooking you might even batch prepare everything before the retreat. If you love cooking then making a special or elaborate meal might be one of your retreat activities. In either case, decide what’s on the menu and get those ingredients in.

  • Journal

Take a moment right before you start your retreat to write down anything that’s bothering you or playing on your mind. Turn that page over and put all that stuff on ice for the retreat period. It ain’t going anywhere and it can wait.

My take home from the retreat: Ease creates simplicity – Stress creates complexity – Choose Ease

Keep your journal or notepad handy throughout the retreat. When we press ‘pause’ on all the doing we create a space to simply be. When this happens, we often find that all sorts of interesting things come to the surface.  Make a note of any insights or ‘aha’ moments. Any lessons learned or things you want to take action on when you’re back in the “real world”.

Review everything at the end of the retreat. Perhaps the things you were worried about at the start don’t seem so big anymore? When we take time out to clear out and expand our inner and outer space we create a big, spacey, container for our day-to-day lives. Our challenges and problems don’t seem so big against this broader backdrop.

However much time you have to devote to the art of retreat, or whatever format your personal retreat takes, I hope you replenish your cup and have mega fun all at once! 

Let me know what other ideas you have for home retreats and how yours goes!

live streaming film Moonlight 2016

Author: Sam Vale Noya

Yoga instructor currently living and teaching in Reading, UK.