Home Retreat complete with Cat

Ahhh a home retreat – doesn’t that sound like a little slice of heaven.  Is it possible in our busy everyday lives, to carve out some time for a retreat or even create a space?  I say “why not?”.  Your family and friends will be so much better off.  Check out some of these easy to follow tips from Yoga Journal on setting up a hOMe retreat (November 2009).

Setting It Up

  1. Find a time when you have the house to yourself
  2. Turn off TV, computer, cell phone
  3. Let others know that you are not available
  4. Put aside any to-do lists
  5. Design a schedule for waking and going to bed, yoga and other retreat activities

What Do I Do on a hOMe retreat?

  1. Yoga
  2. Meditate
  3. Read inspirational books, articles
  4. Walk, exercise
  5. Creative activities like art, cooking, singing, dancing
  6. Journal

This time with yourself may surprise you as strong emotions that stay tucked away may surface once you slow down and give yourself space.  Ultimately, it is a reconnection with yourself.  Finally, give yourself the time to return to your normal life.

The Poses
Mountain Brook & Heart Opener

Props: 2-3 blankets, neck roll, two bolsters
Benefits: counteracts the slumped position of our posture from sitting, computer use, driving, everyday activities. Opens the chest to help breathe easier. Improves digestion, reduces fatigue and can lift your mood.

Just like a babbling brook with boulders (soft ones!), imagine your body like the soft rushing waters laying over those boulders, smooth, flowing.  It will allow the natural curves of the body to be held up gently and the breath to flow.

On your mat, place one bolster where your knees will be and another where your lower legs can rest, one blanket rolled up where the bra line is (base of scapula), and a neck roll for the cervical spine.  Shoulders rest on the floor, arms to side with palms facing up or come into Goddess arms.  If ankles need support, use rolled-up blanket or dish towel.  Eye pillows can lightly rest on eyes or even be used on forehead (useful for headaches) or even on shoulders (wherever you need to release tension). To begin with stay in pose for 10 minutes working up to 20 minutes.  Great to use in savasana. Feel the heart open, the strain from holding yourself up all day evaporate.
Variations: Feeling cranky in the lumbar spine? Place blanket to fill the curves.  Want to feel more grounded while still opening the heart? Place rolled up blanket against wall and soles of feet touching blanket.  Need to feel cuddled? Swaddle your head in a blanket cradle.

Heart Opener Version – same set up as above but add two blanket rolls to upper back from shoulder blades down to below bra line for a deeper chest opener.  The hips may be slightly buoyant as they feel lifted off of the floor.  A pillow may be needed for the head to keep the neck aligned as well.  We added goddess arms on blocks for a shoulder opener.

Supported Forward Fold with Chair

 chair, 2-3 blankets 

Benefits: opens the hips and groin facilitating blood and energy flow to the urinary tract, digestive and reproductive organs. Relaxes the back and releases tension in the neck.

Place a double-fold blanket on floor, sit on edge of blanket and sit in Sukhasana (Easy pose).  Inhale and lengthen upper body towards chair facing you. Lay arms on seat of chair and allow head to rest on arms as a pillow.  Stay for 5-10 minutes.  Ensure that low back has enough support.  If you need more, add another blanket to sit on.  Option to extend legs in straddle with blanket rolls under knees.

Legs Up on the Chair

Props: chair, 2-3 blankets, neck roll, eye pillow
Extras: Sandbag, Webkinz stuffed animals
Benefits: relaxes the muscles of the lower back, legs, refreshes the legs, relaxes the muscles and organs of the abdomen.  Blanket on belly or legs.

Place a blanket on chair so you don’t feel the hard surface.  If you need to elevate the body, you can place a triple fold blanket in front of chair, then place your hips on blanket to one side, swing the legs up onto the seat of the chair as you lower your upper body onto the mat or floor.  Use a neck roll to support cervical spine. Place a blanket or sandbag on legs to ground you in the pose. Arms release to the sides with palms turned up.  Use an eye pillow to shut out any light for ultimate relaxation. An eye pillow or some type of weighted object (I’ve used stuffed animals) can be placed in open palms to move and free up energy.  Stay for up to 10 minutes.  Your beginning practice may consist of only 5 minutes.  Feel the legs drain, the stress melt away.