Tagmeditation

Holiday cancelled? Plan a Stay-at-home Mini Weekend Retreat

Holiday cancelled? Plan a Stay-at-home Mini Weekend Retreat

If you’re one of the multitudes of people who have booked holidays this summer, you’ll be wondering if you should just cancel it now, or wait and see. But the truth is, due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, it’s unlikely we’ll be jetting off to foreign climes for holidays in 2020.

The official line from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office is that the FCO advises British nationals against all but essential international travel. There is no end date to this advice. We just don’t know when we’ll be allowed to travel again. At the moment, the furthest we can travel is to a park to exercise.

So what about our travel plans? For most of us, instead of a holiday, all we have is the headache of trying to get our money back.

But we don’t have to leave the country, or even leave the house to create a sense of sanctuary and solace. What about creating our own little at-home, mini weekend retreat? Here are some ideas for how you can plan your very own mini-retreat so that you still have something to look forward to.

Get Planning!

Have a think about what it is that you’d most look forward to on a retreat holiday. Is it the fact that you don’t have to think about all the dull domestic stuff? Is it the break from technology? Is it being pampered with treatments? Is it looking after body and soul with yoga and meditation? Or is it just lounging around with a book in the sun? Or perhaps a combination of ALL of the above.

You can also set an intention for the retreat; to reduce anxiety, to detox body and mind, to give yourself some compassion. Once you’ve decided on your aim, write it down so that you can remind yourself why you’re taking this time for yourself.

Get Organised

Once you’ve decided on the focus of your retreat you’ll need to do a bit of preparation. Spend the week before doing a bit of a spring clean – change the sheets, empty all the bins, and do a bit of a tidy. If you can get the house back to square one then you won’t be distracted by housework while on your ‘retreat’.

It’s also worth making sure you’ve got a little bit ahead with work if you can, so you’re not tempted to ‘just do a little bit’ over the weekend. Now that we’re working from home, the lines between work and home are blurred and it’s harder to switch off. To help with this, try to literally switch off – phones, PCs, iPads, etc. Put them in a drawer for a day and let the outside world recede.

Plan your Menu

Make the most of your mini-retreat by planning your meals in advance. Most retreats offer nourishing, fresh food that’s good for body and mind, such as those in line with the seasons, or an Ayurvedic diet.

You could do overnight-soaked oats for breakfast with a fresh fruit coulis, a ‘buddha bowl’ style lunch with quinoa, avocado, sprouting seeds, and anything else you fancy, and then after all that healthy food, you could buy some nice-quality ready meal, or splash out on a takeaway for dinner.

Time on your own

This might be a laughable idea if you’re the parent of young children in lockdown. You can only dream of going to the loo on your own, let alone a whole weekend of quiet solo time. But being a parent is a full-time job with no let up that can leave you feeling exhausted and on a short fuse. Could you carve out a couple of hours? Your partner could take the kids to the park, or keep them entertained elsewhere in the house while you have a long, leisurely bath, or watch a movie under a duvet, or do an online yoga class. Whatever means mini-break to you!

Immersion in nature

Now that we’re allowed out for exercise more than once a day, as well as travel to get some exercise, you could venture further afield than the nearest park and maybe even take a picnic and a thermos of tea. Take in the frothy May blossom, the fresh green of Spring, and allow Mother Nature to soothe your soul.

Do some yoga

There are more and more opportunities to do classes with some amazing teachers. Quite a few are offering weekend workshops, with two classes over one weekend. Why not tie this is to a whole weekend retreat? You could structure your day around the workshops, and in the evening go for a quiet walk to look at the sunset, or practice pranayama or meditation outside in the garden. We’re also offering an online Yoga Foundations course at the end of the month – like a mini retreat over the weekend, and it even counts toward your 200-hr yoga teacher training, should you wish to continue your journey further!

Try out Meditation

If this isn’t something you’re used to doing, then why not use your weekend retreat as a way to try it for yourself, especially if the current situation has you feeling anxious about the future. There are lots of ways to get into meditation using apps (see our article on Wellbeing during Coronavirus), but there’s also a free Monday meditation series with Ali Mortimer, founder of the ‘Heal yourself Happy’ method, sponsored by Marks & Spencers.

Get Creative

If you’re the kind of person that loves doing arty stuff, but it feels like you just don’t have the time at the moment, why not spend a weekend on a creative project that will give you joy. Rather than DIY, which most of us seem to be doing more of at the moment, try something that is for the sake of being creative, rather than just getting a job done. For example, you could set up a still life and try to depict it using lots of different mediums; pencil, ink, chalks, watercolour, even acrylics if you have them.

Pamper Yourself

Okay, it’s not as exciting as a Spa day, but there are plenty of ways you can pamper yourself at home. Do a head-to-toe of treatments, starting with a pedicure, getting rid of all that gnarly skin on your feet, which you’ve been ignoring, because, you know, lockdown. Exfoliate, slather yourself in healthy oils which help to rejuvenate the skin, such as coconut oil, almond oil, or extra virgin olive oil, and you could even try an Ayurvedic self-massage (called Abhyanga) for the full relaxing effect.

Poppy Pickles

How to improve your well-being during this crisis

How to improve your well-being during this crisis

In these strange times, many of us are struggling with navigating our normal lives. Everyday things have changed; shops have closed, exercise is limited, we can’t hug our parents or friends – and we can’t go to yoga classes.

As the weeks go by we have started to adapt, but every now and then the loneliness, uncertainty, and financial worries can hit home.

So here are some ways that we can look after our wellbeing during Coronavirus.

Limit your news intake

Be intentional in the way that you consume the news at the moment. If you have a news app on your phone, turn off the notifications. One news story can lead us to another, and before we know it, we’ve been pulled down into a dark spiral of fear-inducing news.

Yes, the world is dealing with a pandemic and, of course, there are things to be frightened of. But stoking our fear doesn’t help. It just increases our stress levels, which in turn reduces the strength of our immune system.

Connect with your body

As yogis, we know this. Doing a considered yoga practice when we’re stressed calms us down, brings us back from anxiety. But it’s easy to know this, sometimes less easy to do. If you’re working from home, as well as home-schooling young children, then fitting in a yoga practice will seem laughable.

But it doesn’t have to be a whole hour of practice. It can be as simple as sitting straight and tall on your chair; feeling the sitting bones and backs of the thighs on the seat of the chair, pressing the feet down, then stretching the arms up towards the ceiling.

This simple exercise will connect you to the earth, open the lungs and heart, and bring the mind into the body.

Think about others

This is a cliché, but a true one. The more we think about others, and consider how other people might be feeling, the less we focus on ourselves and how we’re coping, or not.

If you’re feeling at a loose end and it’s driving you mad, there’s plenty of ways to be useful. Check out nextdoor.com to see if you’ve got any elderly or vulnerable neighbours that need medication or shopping picked up and delivered. Or give your elderly relative a call every day to have a chat and see how they’re doing.

Get to know your family

If this situation has taught us anything, it’s that we don’t usually spend much time with our family unit. In a normal week, my husband and I have about 20 minutes a day to have a proper chat. Weekends were usually just as busy with yoga and work commitments, time away, kids’ activities, and so on.

Without all this frenetic activity, we are turning to look at each other, and now have the time and space to have proper conversations. On the daily walks there is a chance to really connect with our children and partners, with no distractions such as popping into shops or grabbing a coffee.

If you feel like you’re still more annoyed than connected to them, then try this exercise. Taking around 45 minutes, ask your partner these questions, and see how many surprises you get.

Do a daily meditation

Meditation has been proven to relieve stress and anxiety, calm the nerves, slow the heart rate, and increase feelings of contentment and well-being. If you already have a yoga practice, adding in a ten-minute meditation every day will come easier to you, as your body will be more receptive to sitting or lying still.

Why not choose a subject to meditate on? You can set an intention for your meditation, such as focusing on compassion for others, acknowledging your resilience, and being grateful for health, home, family, and friends.

If you’re not sure you’d know what to do, or might not have the motivation to do it on your own, there are plenty of apps out there, such as calm, headspace, Aura, and Smiling Mind – and we’re currently holding a free guided meditation on Friday morning, so why not join us?

Read more

We all take books on holiday, but as soon as we’re at home, we find we don’t have time to read anymore. With the uncertainty of how much longer we will be in lockdown, now is the perfect time to get back into that pile of books. Rather than buying a whole load more, check your bookshelves first. I found at least three books that I thought I’d read, but actually hadn’t – free books!

It could also be a time to release your inner yoga geek and do a bit of yoga philosophy reading. There is a vast wealth of knowledge out there, which deepens your yoga practice.

Write things down

I always think the word ‘journaling’ is really smug and slightly intimidating. You don’t have to keep up a relentless daily diary to do a bit of writing – of course, if you do, well done. But we all have a spare notepad somewhere, dig it out and start a lockdown diary. It doesn’t have to be every day. It could be just one sentence. Or you could keep a yoga practice notepad, and write how you felt before and after your practice.

If you’re struggling with your emotions, you can try ‘expressive writing‘, which is a safe way to express your feelings, and see them objectively.

Try not to compare

We all do it all the time, and it’s never good for any of us. But right now there seems to be some sort of ‘who can do lockdown life the best’ competition on social media – especially Instagram. Some people seem to be baking, gardening, doing DIY jobs, homeschooling, setting up new businesses, and making floral wreaths, all at the same time.

This sets up a feeling that we’re not making the most of this time and can trigger all sorts of self-criticism. But it’s important to remember that everyone who posts on social media is only posting the edited highlights, and that they too are having days when they feel scared, stressed, or angry.

Be Kind to Yourself

It’s easy to forget to be compassionate and kind to ourselves. We are in an unprecedented time within living memory, and it will inevitably affect, shape and change all of our lives. Well-known author Matt Haig has a note to himself in his book ‘Reasons to Stay Alive‘, which includes these sentences that feel very apt:

Keep allowing yourself the human privilege of mistakes. Keep a space that is you and put a fence around it. Keep reading. Keep writing. Keep your phone at arm’s length. Keep your head when all about you are losing theirs. Keep breathing. Keep inhaling life itself.

 

 

Poppy Pickles

Self Care: Welcoming the New Year with Ayurveda

Self Care: Welcoming the New Year with Ayurveda

As the New Year approaches, many of us are drawn to reflect on the past year with the intention to create something new, something better than what we experienced the preceding year. Your soul wants to expand and your mind wants to work diligently to discover, analyze, and create a new story. In this scenario, we’re oftentimes driven by the ego-mind which gives us a sense of Self. The ego-mind is what you learned about yourself from outside sources: other people, experiences you’ve had, and the society where you grew up. And so, it’s helpful when it comes to navigating the practical matters of life that we’ve created. For example, thanks to the ego, you can identify yourself as a Mother, Father, European, Accountant, etc. And while it helps create order it also creates a sense of separation, which ultimately is devastating to humankind. You can, however, use the ego-mind as it was intended, to help you evolve. The gateway to do so begins with self-care. Self-care gives you the space to quiet the ego-mind, look within, and create more consciousness.  (more…)

Jaclyn Andrews

Yogi’s guide: Starting a Home Practice

Yogi's guide: Starting a Home Practice

Are you wanting to start something to improve your fitness? Maybe help you deal with stress or sleep better? Are you looking for something to look after your physical and mental health that only takes up a few minutes a day? Well, a home yoga practice could be just the thing for you. (more…)

Sally Schofield
For inspiration

The Cheeky Yogi – You can’t be 100% Authentic 

The Cheeky Yogi - You can’t be 100% Authentic 

Barely two months after graduating from my 200-hour teacher training course, I landed a regular teaching slot at one of the most exclusive clubs in the UK. This isn’t me bragging, but contemplating ‘how on earth did that happen?!’ How do you land a yoga job when you’re a fresh graduate (or newbie)? What is the magic formula for landing a yoga job? Sometimes it’s an audition and the employer just knows you’ll fit in. Sometimes it’s timing and the gods decide to smile on you that day (and you remember your cues!). Or maybe it’s who you know (and/or how many Instagram followers you have!!), but that discussion is for another article.

Let’s be honest, in the beginning, no matter how good your 200-hour teacher training is, you are still wading your way through mud trying to find your own voice. ‘Just be yourself’ gets bandied about as a solution, but isn’t that similar to being told to ‘act natural’ whilst bending over in a wide-legged forward fold with the entire class fixed intently on your rotund posterior. What does ‘just be yourself’ even mean? (more…)