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How to Do an At-Home Retreat: Part II

Here we are….the equinox! If you’re in my part of the world, you may have a sense of relief (“Ah, we made it!”).

While we had an unusually warm winter here in Colorado, I know many of us didn’t leave the dark season unscathed by her candid reckonings.

I like to think of the two solstices and equinoxes as four pillars that uphold our annual cycle. Milestones to mark our growth, theses seasonal starts offer us the opportunity to pause and reflect.

The key words there being: pause and reflect.

Without these two actions, we miss out on the opportunity to garner wisdom; for wisdom only comes through digesting and integrating life’s experiences (sorry–usually the unsavory ones yield the most fruit).

As I mentioned last week, the best way that I know of to pause, reflect, and cultivate wisdom is through regular periods of retreat time. And, there’s no better time for this than at the start of a new season.

Today, in Part II of or at-home retreat series, I start to get more granular by breaking down– minute-by-minute — various ways that you could create your schedule when you do a deep dive at home.

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been immersed in preparing for our upcoming SHE Yoga & Meditation Retreat in Calistoga, CA that starts on April 2(yay!). I’m really enjoying creating a whole new, integrated curriculum that’s both a culmination my past 17 years of teaching and different from anything I’ve ever offered before.

During my preparations, I constantly tinker with the schedule in order to create daily and weekly rhythms of rest, silence, interaction, alone time, together time, and learning.

I know that creating (and, even more so, sticking to) a schedule is often the hardest aspect of solo retreating for the women I work with.

It’s easy to get distracted when we don’t have the structure that a teacher and a community provide. So, hopefully, the sample schedules I’m offering below will help you move past this hurdle and be able to create your own at-home retreat experience this season.

All of these schedules are meant to be followed in silence and unplugged from technology.

SAMPLE HALF-DAY SCHEDULED FOR A STRUCTURED RETREAT

If you’ve never done a retreat on your own, or if you’re in the mothering season of your life, a half-day retreat might be the best fit for you right now.

Here’s an example of a schedule that I follow, both in my own practice and in my teaching. (This is also roughly the schedule we’ll follow in this weekend’s at-home SHE Retreat)

10:00-10:30:

  • Arrive in awareness. Do a 4-part check in to see how you’re feeling in body, heart, mind, and SHE. Record this in your journal (10 minutes)
  • Ground, center, and declare your intention (Guided, audio visualizations for grounding practices are in The Book of SHE, and example intentions are in The Way of the Happy Woman).
  • Do morning pages. Write in your journal, using stream of consciousness, for 20-minutes, or three handwritten pages.

10:30-10:40:

  • Pranayama. Engage in some yogic breathing practices to clear out and awaken your subtle energy body.

10:40-10:55:

  • Seated meditation. Mindfulness of breathing.

10:55-11:30:

  • Yin Yoga. You can choose a sequence for the season you’re in, or to help alleviate certain conditions of body/mind that you’re working to achieve balance with. (Illustrated sequences for each season can be found in my first book, The Way of the Happy Woman)

11:30-11:45:

  • Walking meditation. You can do this indoors or outdoors.

11:45-12:30:

  • Flow yoga. Any combination of warm ups, standing postures (you can do those two outside, if you like), arm balances, inversions, finishing poses (forward folds, twists). Illustrated sequences for each season can be found in my first book, The Way of the Happy Woman)

12:30-12:45:

  • Savasana. Reclining relaxation.

12:45-1:00:

  • Seated meditation. Mindfulness of breathing (10 minutes) and Loving Kindness (5 minutes).  (Instructions for these are in my first book, The Way of the Happy Woman)

1:00:

  • Dedicate the merit of your practice and carry on with your day!

Download the pdf version of this schedule here.

SAMPLE HALF-DAY SCHEDULE FOR AN UNSTRUCTURED RETREAT

I like to think of unstructured retreats as my “Wild Woman time.” When I was grieving the loss of a relationship, for example, I went on a solo retreat and kept my time mostly unstructured, while following a daily rhythm that felt nurturing and natural for me.

8am (or whenever you feel like it): Wake up

800-8:45: Make tea, get dressed, write in your journal (indoors or outdoors)

8:30-9:00: Eat breakfast, engaging your senses  (indoors or outdoors)

9:00-10:30: Go on a hike. Stop halfway through, sit on the ground and meditate with open eyes, looking out at nature.

10:30-11:30: Personal time

11:30-12:00: Meditation

12:00-1:00: Yin yoga

Download the pdf version of this schedule here.

SAMPLE FULL DAY SCHEDULE FOR A  STRUCTURED RETREAT

(This could be stretched out over a weekend or an entire week)

7:00: Wake up, drink water, etc.

7:00-7:30:

  • Arrive in awareness. Do a 4-part check in to see how you’re feeling in body, heart, mind, and SHE. Record this in your journal (10 minutes)
  • Ground, center, and declare your intention (Guided, audio visualizations for grounding practices are in The Book of SHE, and example intentions are in The Way of the Happy Woman).
  • Do morning pages. Write in your journal, using stream of consciousness, for 20-minutes, or three handwritten pages.

7:30-7:40:

  • Pranayama. Engage in some yogic breathing practices to clear out and awaken your subtle energy body.

7:40-7:55:

  • Seated meditation. Mindfulness of breathing.

8:00-8:30: Breakfast

8:30-9:15:

  • Shower, personal time

9:15-9:45:

  • Seated meditation (15 minutes)
  • Walking meditation (15 minutes)

9:45-10:30:

  • Flow Yoga. Warm ups & standing postures

10:30-10:45:

  • Seated meditation

10:45-11:30:

  • Flow Yoga. Backbends & inversions

11:30-11:45

  • Flow Yoga. Seated forward folds & twists

11:45-12:15

  • Savasana

12:15-12:30

  • Loving kindness meditation

12:30-1:30: Lunch

1:30-2:30: Rest/nap

2:30-3:00:

  • Seated meditation (15 minutes)
  • Walking meditation (15 minutes)

3:00-4:00:

  • Yin Yoga

4:00-4:30:

  • Seated meditation (15 minutes)
  • Walking meditation (15 minutes)

4:30-5:30

  • Go for a walk in nature

5:30-6:00:

  • Seated meditation (15 minutes)
  • Walking meditation (15 minutes)

6:00-7:00: Dinner

7:00-7:30:

  • Seated meditation (15 minutes)
  • Walking meditation (15 minutes)

7:30-8:00:

  • Read/study a spiritual book of your choice or listen to an audio dharma talk

8:00-8:30:

  • Seated meditation (15 minutes)
  • Walking meditation (15 minutes)

8:30-9:00:

  • Restorative yoga. Put your legs of the wall, open them in a V, do a reclining twist, hug knees to chest

9:00-9:30:

  • Loving kindness meditation lying down until you fall asleep.

Download the pdf version of this schedule here.

SAMPLE FULL DAY SCHEDULE FOR AN UNSTRUCTURED RETREAT

(This could be stretched out over a weekend or an entire week)

8am (or whenever you feel like it): Wake up

8:00-8:45: Make tea, get dressed, write in your journal (indoors or outdoors)

8:30-9:00: Eat breakfast, engaging your senses  (indoors or outdoors)

9:00-10:30: Go on a hike. Stop halfway through, sit on the ground and meditate with open eyes, looking out at nature.

10:30-11:30: Personal time

11:30-12:00: Meditation

12:00-1:00: Lunch (indoors or outdoors)

1:00-3:00: Take a nap and read (indoors or outdoors)

3:00-4:30: Slow flow and/or yin yoga practice (illustrated, sample practices are in here)

4:30-5:00: Meditate

5:00-6:00: Listen to an audio talk, study, or do whatever you feel like

6:00-7:00: Dinner (indoors or outdoors)

7:00-8:00: Sauna, shower, personal time

8:00: Get in bed and read, journal until tired.

Download the pdf version of this schedule here.

May these schedules support you in bringing more wisdom, peace, and connection to your essential nature. Namaste!

Click here to read Part I of this article.

And: If you’re ready to hit the “pause” button on your life to reflect on the season you’ve just lived and the one you’re about to step into….look no further.

Let me come to you, along with a global circle of like-hearted women, to slow down, get quiet, and reconnect with what matters most– remembering our essential nature and our inherent interconnectedness.

From the coziness of your own home, enjoy three hours of nourishing women’s yin & flow yoga, meditations to cultivate mindfulness and open your heart, and reflections to help you digest and vision at this seasonal juncture.

You’re leave feeling calm, refreshed, and at home in your body, mind, and world. It won’t be the same without you there…and it’s all happening this weekend! 

Here’s where to join us.

INNER REFUGE:

AN AT-HOME SHE RETREAT

SATURDAY, MARCH 25

9-12 PDT/12-3 EDT/5-8 GMT

Register here now.

 

SARA AVANT STOVER

Hello, beautiful. I’m Sara: a teacher of feminine spiritual and empowerment, author, and founder of The Way of the Happy Woman. I’m also the leader of The SHE School and the SHE Yoga & Meditation Teacher Training. Here’s the truth: I don’t want to be your guru. But I am wholeheartedly devoted to guiding women back to their own, inner wisdom, through feminine spiritual practices, yoga, meditation, and a whole lotta love (and guts). This work is my truest calling and greatest joy. I’m so happy to have the chance to share it with you.

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