I’ve always wanted to go on a destination yoga retreat, but have yet to make it a dream come true. They are often really expensive, and the dates are restrictive, and I’ve just now started to convince Nate that it’s the best idea ever.
But this year, although we didn’t go on a yoga retreat per se, with a little creativity and preparation, I turned our seven day all inclusive Mexican holiday into a physical and spiritual getaway. Here’s how:
- Set An Intention
- Choose The Resort Carefully
When designing your own retreat, you have the luxury of tailoring everything you do to fit your needs.
So what are your needs? Are you looking to amp up a daily yoga practice? Start a daily meditation practice? Detoxify and lose 5 pounds? Unplug From your computer?
For the best results, begin by deciding exactly what you want from your retreat.
For my Spring 2016 “retreat” my intention was to refill my cup. After a crazy winter season which involved over 50 medical appointments, living away from home, raising a new puppy, eating vegan, working full time, and generally engaging in a lot of worrying about the health and wellness of those around me, I was feeling spent. Creatively dried up. Emotionally exhausted. Physically, I was feeling simultaneously tired and pent up. This time away, was meant to give me a chance to recharge – mentally, emotionally, physically, and creatively.
We had already booked our trip when I had this bright idea, so I was locked in. Luckily for me, my hubby has champagne tastes and we’ve gotten pretty good at these vacations over the years, so we had the perfect place.
If you’re doing a DIY yoga retreat, I would recommend choosing your destination country and resort carefully.
Things to consider:
- Size – small boutique hotel or mega monolith?
- Adults only? Or family friendly?
- Gym, classes, and activities – what’s available?
- Food – Are there lots of fresh, healthy options? Is there room service? This one is so so important.
- Ocean & beach – are you near/on it? Can you swim at this beach? What’s the water like? How crowded will the beach area be?
Our resort was a brand new 400 room, resort outside of the hustle and bustle of Cancun. It was family friendly (not something we’d do again) but we were stationed for the most part in an Adults only area. The beach was long and secluded and quiet with zero entrepreneurial Mexicans looking to sell us trinkets. The water was calm, but still wavy enough to be able to hear the waves. It wasn’t crystal clear water, nor was it teaming with life. The beach was cleaned every morning and flat and easy to run on.
We were upgraded to a suite that had a deck and outdoor shower – key yoga amenities that I wasn’t expecting!
Once you have your intention and home base chosen, I’d recommend setting a schedule. Look at yoga retreat itineraries and see how the pros schedule their getaways. Typically you see 2 yoga classes, augmented by water-based activities, hiking, biking, arts or crafts, and personal development opportunities – balanced carefully with free time.
For our schedule, (almost) everyday we:
- Wake up early
- Meditation or yoga
- Free time – lunch, swimming, reading, exploring, activities in the pool, sleeping Writing
In addition, every day I did something just for me: massage, water therapy, bubble bath, hair treatment, or ate an especially indulgent dessert.
Having a schedule helped to keep the days from slipping by unremarkably. I was careful not to overschedule though, as a key part of this trip was R&R.
I think the most “recharging” aspect of the whole trip was the amount of time we spent outside. If we weren’t sleeping, we were outside. We ate outside, showered outside, swam and ran and sun tanned outside. Contrasted with the hibernating-through-winter, chained-to-a-desk-all-day reality of our real life in Canada, the fresh air just lit me up.
I have a super thin & light Manduka mat that I take with me on trips like this. The mats they have in the gyms at these resorts are, I’ve found, either brand new and slippery and stinking of plastic PVC or they’re ratty and stinky and not somewhere you want to hang out in child’s pose.
I know lots of people who do yoga directly on sand or on beach towels, which I think is awesome too. But having a mat keeps you clean and dry, protects your knees and hands from rocky sand, and opens up the possibilities to to do yoga anywhere and everywhere. It’s more inviting to do a slower, more supported practice too, if you have a clean, safe place to lie on.
If you’ve chosen the right resort, you’ll hopefully have access to an abundance of juices, smoothies, salads, fresh fruits and vegetables.
You’ll also likely have every sweet and treat and sugar-filled drink vying for your attention. And heck, you are on vacation! So indulge but also honour your intention.
If you’re looking to detox, eat clean, fresh, and healthy, look to load up on fresh cut fruit, hearty breakfast oatmeal with flax and chia and topped with nuts and fruits. Knock back lots of green juices and smoothies (just be sure they’re real and not mixed with concentrates, yogurts, and sugars).
Look for salad bars, vegetable side dishes and made to order stir frys or pastas that you can bulk up with fresh veg. Get your hands on local foods which depending on where you are, may be teaming with beans, avocado, citrus, herbs, and fresh seafood, and are less likely to be hiding heavy creams and hidden sugars or animal products.
Also – consider bringing along a shaker cup and green supplements or protein powders to augment the nutrients you’re getting at meals.
Being away from work and facebook and all that was part of the plan, but we weren’t digitally detoxing. Instead, I used our technology to help amp this trip up to “retreat status”. We used Headspace to meditate, the Rich Roll Podcast app to download and listen to podcasts at the beach, Texture to read magazines, Audible to listen to books, YogaGlo for when I wanted a guided yoga class, and a wireless keyboard and iPad to write, write, write.
These apps, this technology enabled me to be creative, in the world and of the world, from my sunny little beach towel. They meant I could be both mindful and multitasking in the span of a few hours. They meant that to be out on the beach on a lounger, didn’t have to mean vegging out and being “lazy”.
In my opinion, there is nothing more healing and human than unshackling onself from daily responsibilities, and getting out of dodge for a week (or 4!). Using that away time as a chance to meaningfully reconnect with your heart and mind and spirit is multitasking at its best! Now that I’ve got this All-inclusive-as-yoga-retreat idea in my mind, a whole world of amazing adventures are swirling around in my mind. Ones that are both relatively affordable and that I can convince others to join me for!