The Art of Vacation

Full disclosure: this is a shameless plug for our upcoming Yoga Retreat in Costa Rica. However, the true purpose of this blog, both individually and as a whole, is always to bring you back to YOU. To step back amidst life’s chaos to honour what is important to YOU, either by reminding you about or inspiring you towards a regular yoga and self-care practice. And so if this is my purpose, shown to you in numerous ways to create balance in your life, then we must also talk about your dedicated time out – your holidays!

Photo by Chen Mizrach on Unsplash

First of all, what do you need a vacation from?

Are you working full time maybe in fitness/yoga, taxing your body everyday? maybe a couple side hustles with added long hours and constant emails all day long. Or, are you working the same 8-hour job day after day with little changes, a long and boring commute with most evenings spent in front of the TV? Do you see how both of these individuals will need something different in their off hours?

The person who doesn’t stop, essentially needs to stop. The other person needs to get up and go with a little adventure. The challenge is when a) both of these people are vacationing together and b) like attracts like. I think ultimately what I’m trying to say is an all inclusive resort with excess food and alcohol is not going to be the answer for everyone, nor is the big backpacking adventure. Most of us don’t have the luxury of a 3-6 week holiday all at once  (especially if you live in North America) where we can combine everything and truly hit the reset button. So, if you only have one week – what do you do? My best advice is the opposite of what you do at home.

If you are over-stimulated on a regular basis you need to rest. In fact you have to rest! Find a space where you can settle in either with a book by the fire in a cozy cabin or a lounge chair by the beach (I’ll leave the temperature up to you). Listen to music, stare at the sky, turn off your phone, and literally do nothing as much as you can. This is a great time to finally commit to your meditation practice. At the same time, roll out your mat everyday and do a practice or run, walk whatever workout your body is craving (one hour is perfect), as we both know too much stillness won’t work either.

If you are under-stimulated it’s time for a little inspiration. Though you are most likely attracted to the holiday outline above – and you should have some of that, it needs to be slightly limited. Instead, get out into nature and move! A ski vacation? snorkelling or diving, hiking or long walks. Spend time moving and no stay-cations for you! where as someone over stimulated could probably use a few days on their own couch, you need to get out and break the monotony. Try new foods or cultural experiences, surround yourself with people but then make sure you have a quiet space to come back to at the end of the day to recharge.

Ultimately, this year let’s not say: “I need a vacation from my vacation” Let’s also TAKE a vacation. Even just a day trip a couple hours away on your own or with your BFFs or spending the day at the art gallery or museum in town will work wonders for your overall outlook and vitality. Please, take time to do something a little different, to reset and recharge so you can be your best YOU.

How to Mentally Prepare for a Wellness Retreat

At Sangha Wellness Retreats, one of our mottos is to “enjoy a vacation you don’t need a vacation from.” Essentially, we want to make sure we come home feeling rested and relaxed. Unlike some all-inclusive holidays that seem to require a 30-day liver detox or an adventure holiday that is so jam packed we forgot the “holiday” part of it. Why is it that we often know far in advance that we are going away, yet we still rush around like maniacs trying to get everything and more done so we can relax when we are away? The irony is, we amp ourselves up so much that we can’t actually make that happen.

When we have a lot on the go, our stress response keeps us elevated or in fight/flight mode. We are alert, moving fast, checking things off and barely pausing to take a breath. This is how most of us spend our entire day – we have a lot to do! To keep up with our self, and to be ready for action, we stay in this mode long past when we need it, just in case. This is also why we struggle with falling asleep or staying asleep during these busier times. This is also why it takes us a few days once it all stops to actually relax. We end up our precious vacation time amped up and unhappy or worse, coming down only to have our immune system go on vacation, and spending our holiday sick.

Here are a few tips that you can use to help mentally prepare for your retreat:

  1. Plan your busy “I have to get everything done week”, the week before you actually leave. This gives you that last week to come down (I am being a realist – we all stress out before we leave to go away) this gives you time for those last few things you forgot about and a chance to eat and sleep well before you leave.
  1. Is there anything that is making you nervous or worried either on the trip or what you are leaving behind? If it is on the trip, get in touch with your retreat guide for extra re-assurance on anything you are concerned about – that’s exactly what we are here for! Also, if we know we can better support you and help watch for any triggers.  If it is for things at home, have those additional conversations or write certain instructions down to give you peace of mind. Try to pinpoint exactly what is causing the worry and build a mantra around it. Example: My kids/cats are fine!
  1. Keep up your regular yoga and meditation practice. Despite the fact that you will be doing a LOT of it while you are away, keeping up with your practice before you go will help you maintain your stress and anxiety levels. Helping to ground you and keep you present. Exactly the reason you started a regular practice in the first place.
  1. Let it go! You will probably forget to pack something you might not cross off all the things on your to do list before you leave. It’s okay! Someone will be able to loan you an extra sweater, you’ll be able to buy a toothbrush at the airport gift shop. You won’t remember everything, it’s all good.

I know that sometimes in the last few days before we leave, we get wrapped up in all the organizing that we forget about how exciting and awesome it is to actually go! Focus on that!! Before we know it we’ll be back home in the middle of it all once again.