The original article was posted on YogaJournal. Read the article here.
As a physician working in a hospital, I’m generally on the schedule for seven days straight, then have seven days off. On my “hospital week,” I work 12- to 14-hour days, facing constant demands and high-stakes decisions. When I get home, I have just enough energy left to stare at the wall. And although a week off sounds like a luxury, those days are filled with catching up on errands, working on projects, and other acts of “adulting.”
I love what I do, but working long shifts for consecutive days can leave me feeling exhausted, stressed, and drained. And that can lead to decision fatigue, which can make even the smallest choices a struggle.
I was concerned about burnout and I realized something had to change—namely, how I took care of myself. Recognizing the need to take time to recharge, but not knowing specifically how to fill my cup, I turned to what I know best—yoga. I had read some recent research about a resilience-building yoga retreat for professionals that improved their sense of mindfulness, resilience, empowerment, and self-compassion. I needed a retreat.
Though I host yoga retreats twice a year, I don’t often make time to attend as a guest. I searched for a getaway that would fit my schedule and budget, but I came up short, so I decided to create my own personal yoga retreat at home. I’ve dubbed this my “stay-treat” and I’ve found it so rejuvenating that now they are a regular practice.
Finding the Time
It’s challenging to carve out a significant chunk of time solely for myself. The nagging voice of self-doubt occasionally creeps in, questioning my right to take a break when my to-do list seems never-ending. But by investing in myself in this way, I am able to show up more fully in all aspects of my life.
I block off an entire day for my stay-at-home sessions. I find that mapping out my day in advance and adhering to the structured schedule—just as you would at a yoga retreat—enables me to avoid overthinking the process and instead focus entirely on my breath, movement, and connection to my heart. By doing so, I am able to quiet my mind and recharge my mental batteries, allowing me to return to work with renewed focus and energy.
I’ve started booking a stay-treat day on my calendar whenever my schedule permits, and the results have been nothing short of transformative. I finish my personal retreat days with a renewed sense of vigor and clarity. Not only do I feel more centered and present for both myself and my patients, but I also find myself writing with greater creative fervor.
The most important thing about my stay-treats is that they have changed my relationship with yoga. My practice is no longer about trying to get something out of the experience, such as a workout, a stretch, or relaxation. Yoga became about cultivating a deeper relationship with myself; getting to know who I am and meeting her with clarity, generosity and open-heartedness.
Recipe for Your Personal Yoga Retreat
I encourage you to try creating your own solo yoga retreat at home. It can be a great way to focus on your practice, recharge your energy, and take time for yourself. Below is a sample schedule from one of my stay-treat days that you can follow, with links to practices that you might include. Of course you can revise it to fit your own needs. May it bring you peace and joy.
7:00 am: Wake up, drink warm water with lemon, and practice pranayama (breathing exercises)
7:30 am: Meditation
8:00 am: Yoga practice with gentle stretching, Sun Salutations, and standing poses
9:00 am: Enjoy a light breakfast, such as a smoothie, fresh fruit, or a bowl of oatmeal
10:00 am: Spend some time in silent meditation or journaling
11:00 am: Take a break and enjoy a healthy snack
11:30 am: Practice yoga, focusing on balance poses and twists
12:30 pm: Spend time in silence, maybe practice pranayama, self-massage, or dry-brushing.
1:00 pm: Have a nourishing lunch with a balanced mix of proteins, complex carbs, and healthy fats
2:00 pm: Take a nap or read a book
4:00 pm: Practice some gentle yoga poses to release tension and stress
5:30 pm: Take a walk outside, breathe fresh air and connect with nature
6:30 pm: Enjoy a light dinner such as soup, salad, or steamed veggies
7:30 pm: Spend some time in deep relaxation with Yoga Nidra or guided meditation
8:30 pm: Wind down with a warm bath or shower before bed
Remember, this is just a sample schedule and can be adapted to fit your personal needs and preferences. Enjoy your stay-at-home yoga retreat!