If the price tag attached to your average yoga retreat is enough to send your blood pressure soaring, we have good news.
You can rejuvenate your body and mind for next to nothing from the comfort of your living room by creating your very own at-home retreat.
Thankfully, you don’t need to be a yoga expert to create one, simply set aside a long weekend and follow some of our top tips.
Go To At Least One Yoga Class Every Day
Funnily enough, you can’t have an at-home yoga retreat without yoga. We’d recommend going to at least one class every day.
Try to find a session that’s close to home - a stressful commute is no way to find inner peace.
According to Cheryl MacDonald, founder of YogaBellies, practising yoga can strengthen our body’s “functions and systems”.
“It stimulates your nervous, endocrine, digestive, and circulatory systems, enhancing their functioning. Yoga is one of the most effective and time-tested natural immunity boosters that we can adopt for a healthier life,” she told The Huffington Post UK.
“Going to an actual yoga class as opposed to practising alone also allows you to socialise with like-minded yogis and enjoy a relaxing environment.”
As well as a group session, you may also enjoy completing a class at home each day and there are plenty online to try. We’d recommend checking out the channel Yoga With Adriene, which has videos for all abilities. Try the ‘Yoga for Bedtime’ session to wind down in the evening.
Create A Calm Space
You’ll never be able to fully relax with piles of washing or dirty dishes in the background, so give your home a decent tidy before your retreat begins.
If you have young children and avoiding their chaos in simply impossible, MacDonald recommends creating a special space in your house that is dedicated to yoga and relaxation.
“Even if its just a corner of the living room, you will associate this space with calm, quiet and your yoga practice,” she said.
According to Patrick Beach, global yoga ambassador at Virgin Active, who co-created the new ‘Calm by Candlelight’ class, playing with the lighting in your home can also set the mood, particularly for restorative yoga sessions.
“Practising restorative yoga in a candlelit room or a dark, quiet environment will enhance your session because it centres around the importance of creating a space where you feel 100% comfortable,” he said.
“It’s all about creating a space that is very similar to the most comfortable room in your home, ensuring it is the right temperature and it has an excellent amount of props such as pillows and blankets to set you up in the poses in a way that will let you completely relax and get the most out of your session.
“Doing so will allow you to concentrate, shut off from distraction, unwind and really be only focussed on the movements - really that’s what you’re looking for when practising restorative yoga poses.”
Numerous studies have found a link between completing exercise outdoors and experiencing an overall improvement in both physical and mental health. Add a long walk to your daily schedule, taking a route you wouldn’t normally see when going about your day-to-day business.
“Walking not only boosts stress-easing endorphins within just 10 minutes, it reduces fatigue, increases circulation and heart health, improves blood pressure, burns more fat than jogging and even reduces glaucoma and Alzheimer’s risk,” she said.
“Walking also empowers you to open your mind. As I walk I experience this wondrous realisation that all shall be well, that everything (good or bad) happens for a reason and that, either way, it’s a win-win; i.e. even if everything doesn’t work out precisely as you wish it to (and, let’s face it, life is life and bad stuff happens) you’ll still benefit in from being thrown a curveball or obstacle to navigate round.”
Nourish Your Body With Good Food
It’s important to provide your body with the right fuel on an at-home yoga retreat. Plan all your meals in advance and do a big shop the day before your break starts, so you don’t have to make any last-minute dashes to the supermarket.
According to nutritionist Charlotte Stirling-Reed, you don’t need to give your diet a drastic overhaul for your staycation.
“Ultimately you don’t want to be uncomfortable just before you do any exercise, especially exercise that’s also meant to relax, such as yoga,” she told HuffPost UK.
“I’d recommend sticking to your usual eating routine but trying to avoid having anything too heavy for 1-2 hours before you do your yoga.
“A light snack before should be fine though. Something like natural yogurt with berries and walnuts, a piece of fruit or some vegetable sticks might cut it, but make sure you’re not too hungry or too full as this can effect your relaxation and ability to perform yoga. Ensure you’re also well hydrated before you start. “
She added that it’s important to drink plenty of water after a workout, too.
“You’ll need around 6-8 glasses of fluid a day and a little more if you’re exercising a lot of if you’re in a warm environment,” she said.
“Try and snack on something healthy if you are choosing to eat after exercise. Nuts and raisins, wholegrain foods or a protein dip such as humous with red pepper are good options.”
Have A Digital Detox
To really give your mind a break, sign out of all social media and try to keep phone use to a minimum during your retreat. We’d recommend following Arianna Huffington’s top tip and leaving it outside your bedroom at night, investing in a cheap alarm clock to wake you up instead.
“Keeping away from electronic devices and the constant ‘buzz’ of being online, can help you calm your ‘monkey mind,’ a yoga term for all of the random nonsense that flies through your head on a daily basis,” MacDonald commented.
“It’s not essential, but definitely beneficial to focus on the here and now and what you are actually doing on retreat.”
For full relaxation, try to also avoid the bright lights of a laptop or television and spend evenings completing calming activities. You could read a good book, do some colouring in or play a good old-fashioned board game if there’s two of you in the house.
Get An Early Night
To fully get the most out of your mini-break, go to bed at a reasonable time so you feel fully rested each day.
“Most people probably know from their own experience that when they have a bad night’s sleep, they often feel more emotional the next day – they might find themselves more prone to crying over something they wouldn’t normally, or to snapping at someone who irritates them,” sleep expert and lecturer in psychology at the University of East London, Josie Malinowski, previously told HuffPost UK
“This common experience is backed up by scientific research – for example when people are deprived of sleep in a lab, their reactions to negative stimuli the next day increase, compared to if they were allowed to sleep.”
The NHS recommends most adults need around eight hours of sleep per night to feel rested, so get ready for some much-needed shut-eye.