How to go on a yoga retreat from home

By Fodhla O'Connell-Grennell

Last year, Mental Health Reform found that over half of the people in Ireland struggled with their mental health due to COVID-19. The colder and darker months of Winter, alongside the pandemic, has been even harder on so many people. There has been unease among most Irish people as stay at home orders will continue into the early summer months at least. However, over the next coming weeks, we are here to bring you many ideas of what you can plan this year to lift your spirits; a little closer to home.

Yoga is world-renowned for its spiritual and physical properties. It is difficult to define yoga with one, definite meaning. Some people can perceive it as concentrating on your breathing or doing stretches, whereas others may see it as folding your body into complicated poses. Yoga is far more than just physical properties; it nurtures your body and soul.

To do yoga, you can be anywhere you like, the nearest park, a nearby beach or even on your living room floor. Coupled with breathing exercises and meditation, yoga can transform your mental health for the better and help you leave the darkness behind. Yoga is accessible to everybody. Its purpose is to help you build strength and awareness.

Where you choose to do yoga must be a place that brings you peace or happiness, even if it means locking yourself in the bathroom for a few minutes away from the kids. Prepare your space so that it feels right. You can sit on a cushion, stand or even use a yoga mat. It should be whatever is accessible to you in the moments that you need it. Minimise the clutter around you so that you can focus on yourself.

If you want to do as much yoga as you can over the weekend, build a semi-permanent space or keep your supplies-bag packed. To make you feel like you really are on a retreat, ditch all your unhealthy habits for one weekend. Try eating more fruit, vegetables and food which is going to make you feel more energised. You don’t necessarily need a timetable but make a checklist of what you want to accomplish over the weekend and try to do it all; whether it means doing three 20-minute yoga sessions or having a fully organised home-retreat, don’t put pressure on yourself to do more than you can.

Take appreciation of the spring brightness that we are experiencing. Make sure your blinds are open and fill the room with light or better yet go outdoors if you can. If you would prefer to work in a darker setting, set your yoga space away from the window or direct light.

Finally, you must find somewhere that your senses are heightened. Think of somewhere and supplies that you can use to satisfy your smell, sight, taste, touch and hearing. Whether the smell is of freshly cut grass or a scented candle, heightening your senses as you began to relax is important for letting the stress of everyday life go.

Once you have all of these things in place, you can make your own yoga retreat no matter where you are. Coupling yoga with meditation is a perfect way to escape mental anguish you may be feeling in this new normal. Doing yoga and meditation regularly will ensure that you are finding a balance in life between work and relaxation, and it might just make the lockdown that little bit more bearable.