This summer has kicked off a rare opportunity for some big downtime in my life. My only goal for the summer has been to get enough rest, eat wonderful food, practice yoga and spend time enjoying life.
Unplugging from daily responsibilities for a little while has been a healthy reminder for me why retreats are so important.
Although I haven't been on a formal extended retreat for well over a year, I could spend hours discussing the value of such an adventure. Most people don't create the time and space to dive in head first to a long retreat because they require a commitment that seems intimidating to a first timer. While I recommend regular retreats for any yogi seeking deeper meaning in their life, today I want to share some ways you can simply get your feet wet.
ReTreat Yourself in Three Hours
A mini-retreat three hour retreat doesn't sound like it could be transformative, but if you do it with care and intention, the same powerful experiences that a longer retreat provides are available. The beautiful thing about the method I am sharing is that you can do this as often as you like with very little lead time or expense. You may even want to negotiate some time on your next trip to the cottage or during a quiet weekend afternoon. Hardcore yogis, teachers and seekers should routinely carve out time to do longer practice and plug into the source of inspiration. If you haven't done this before, you owe it to yourself to try it out!
Gather What You Need
- Yoga Mat
- Meditation cushion or chair
- Light snack if needed
- Questions for contemplation
ScheduleBreak up your time according to what the purpose of your retreat is. For instance if your three hour retreat is focused on restoration don't allot 2 hours for a hotvinyasa yoga practice. Instead, spend an hour doing a gentle yoga practice (including a 20 minSavasana or yoganidra practice) followed by a 45 minute meditation, a nice herbal tea and an hour of contemplation,journaling, or inspirational reading.
On longer meditation retreats it is normal for a beginner to walk in with no experience and be expected to meditate for hours at a time with very little formal instruction. However the hardest part of a DIY (Do It Yourself) retreat is that you are your own guide so it will be helpful to break things down into bite sized pieces. Here is a sample schedule:
0:00-0:25 Read an inspirational quote or passage about meditation. Meditate.
0:25-0:40 Journal or Contemplation
0:00-0:40 Gentle Yoga Practice
0:00-0:20 Tea + Journal/ Contemplation
0:45-0:60 Light Nature Walk
Tips for Creating a Powerful Retreat
- Create a quiet, clean space.
- Insist on privacy and if you are doing this with a friend agree be silent for the full experience so you can go as deeply as possible without disturbing each other.
- Turn your phone and computer off and put them away. Nothing will pull you out of the meditation experience like sneaking over to check your email, Facebook or text messages. Give yourself a full tech break (we all need it).
- Be rested before you begin. The day before eat as cleanly as possible and get good nights rest. Treat your prep the same as you would for any deep spiritual work.
- Treat this time and yourself with respect.
If you need a little extra love on your retreat. Check out the customized Do It Yourself Retreat in the Aquin Yoga Store.
Any good tips for retreats? Any questions about them? Let me know in the comments below!