‘The beauty of retreating at home is that you have the freedom to integrate the practices that resonate with you into your daily life.’
It’s one thing to go away on a retreat and have everything organised for you, but quite another to find time and space to integrate newly acquired wellbeing practices into your daily life.
That’s why we believe the best place to start creating a healthy lifestyle is in your own home, by making small changes every day and forming healthy habits that will last.
It’s very important to us that we create online retreats that suit your needs. We want to understand any problems you might face both while retreating at home and as you work towards creating a sustainable healthy lifestyle.
We recently held a secret online test retreat with a small, select group of participants. This gave us an opportunity to test the content we’ve been busy creating and ask lots of questions about everyone’s unique home and life situations.
A Winter Retreat
Our online wellbeing retreats will be aligned with the seasons, so on this occasion we created a winter retreat with the focus on deep rest and relaxation.
Winter is a time of darkness, hibernation and cold, yet there is beauty to be found in these fallow months. Night skies are glorious, and the winter sun is a great gift when it appears low on the horizon. Although Midwinter falls in December, the full scale of the season only begins to take hold in the months of January and February. Until now, the earth has held the heat of the summer and we finally feel the effect of being so very close to the coldness of space.
During these colder, darker months, it’s important to accept the slowness of the season, focus inwards and create time for self-care.
The Six Wellbeing Elements
Our winter retreat included SOL’s six wellbeing elements – yoga, food, meditation, mindfulness, pampering, and sleep – all of which complement each other and have been carefully chosen to create a holistic approach.
Creating a nurturing space in your own home can be incredibly powerful, and our retreats help you achieve this, carving out time for you to mindfully prepare your home for comfort and rest. This doesn’t mean manically cleaning your house from top to bottom, but simply creating a welcoming space where you feel relaxed and your mind is calm, so you can enjoy the various practices.
‘What I really liked about retreating at home was that I fell in love with my flat a little bit more. I don’t spend enough time there and last weekend made me realise this. I often don’t allow myself to stop and reflect. Last weekend allowed me to feel grateful for my surroundings. Also, it was good to think about ways I could incorporate daily practices of self-care’.
SOL expert Gemma David created a meditation to help participants connect with their space, themselves and the present moment. All the wellbeing practices can be enhanced and supported by being mindful, and various techniques were scheduled throughout the weekend to encourage this approach.
‘I’m really keen to integrate little moments of stillness and mindfulness into my day to help deal with stresses and unpredictability.’
SOL expert Clem Balfour created two yoga sequences for the test retreat, one for the morning, to wake up, warm up, and get the circulation flowing, and a bedtime sequence to prepare for a restful night’s sleep. Practising yoga at home is an easy, achievable way to work on your wellbeing. Moving at your own pace, in a familiar space, will leave you feeling relaxed, safe and comfortable.
‘The yoga was wonderful, I love Clem’s voice and teaching style. The bedtime routine was my absolute favourite.’
Gemma also created a series of meditations to be practiced throughout the weekend to help participants relax, unwind, focus inwards and set intentions.
‘I’ve LOVED it. Each session has felt like a warm bath. I really appreciate Gemma’s style. I particularly enjoyed her use of language (authentic, plain-speaking and not too flowery) and her tone, the perfect balance between nourishment and pragmatism in terms of recognising how we might be doing the meditation without intimidating goals.’
Before the retreat, participants received a set of beautifully printed recipe cards. Our holistic chef, Lizzie, created a winter menu to gently nourish and support the body using seasonal foods ideal for the cold winter months. Recipes were quick and easy, used simple kitchen ingredients and were adaptable to suit individual needs and tastes.
‘Most profoundly, my relationship with food has been transformed. When you slip into lowness, a joyful relationship with food is one of the casualties. A means to an end; a compulsion; a rushed, last-minute, chaotic dash around the soulless supermarket to address your growling belly with something quickly prepared and mindlessly eaten in front of a screen to avoid being still in your own company. This has been my experience in recent months. Oh! the relief at being invited to remember the joy and the sensuality; the colours and the textures; the way the slow, gentle, quiet preparation of carefully chosen nourishing ingredients is something to value in and of itself rather than just being a means to an end. That setting the table, lighting a candle, placing some flowers close by, putting the fairy lights on, using your favourite tableware and sitting with yourself and marvelling at the textures and colours, the aromas and new flavours – that these things can help you start to find your way back to yourself.’
Participants also received a pamper box containing the ingredients needed for a luxurious pamper session. SOL expert Pen McKinley-Rodgers carefully designed a special winter essential oil blend to encourage and support all the practices throughout the weekend, calming the mind for relaxation, sleep and meditation. It also provided the most divine fragrance as a backdrop for the retreat.
The SOL Winter Blend contains:
Frankincense – This oil has wonderful rejuvenating properties. It’s great for the skin while also being incredibly soothing for our nervous system, relieving anxiety and calming the mind.
Patchouli – This oil also contains regenerative properties that are particularly beneficial at this time of year when our skin can get dry and cracked from the harsh winds and indoor heating. Another relaxing aroma, it complements frankincense in instilling serenity.
Petitgrain – Coming from the orange tree, this oil is our little ray of sunshine during these darker months. With natural calming and relaxing properties, petitgrain also has an uplifting quality that is refreshing and balancing.
You can read more about our essential oils here. We are currently creating a range of essential oil blends to support each wellbeing element and every retreat will have a seasonal blend delivered as part of the pamper box.
‘I absolutely loved the pamper session last night. My husband was out, and it was a real treat to have a quiet house to myself. I can see the benefit of taking more time to relax like this and would like to try to do it once a week.’
Sleep is a very important element on our retreats, so the pamper session was followed by a bedtime ritual.
‘I can’t remember the last time I was in bed and asleep by 10 in the pm. I feel awesome. I really enjoyed the yoga this morning, it was just what I needed to have a good stretch out, also the meditation before bed was ace, so relaxing.’
We will be holding another test retreat on the 17th and 18th of March, contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to get involved.