PLAN YOUR OWN RETREAT
Save money and revive mind, body and spirit on a healthy DIY getaway
It’s the first week of spring. The perfect time to think about going somewhere warm on retreat to pull yourself out of a slump. A retreat is a chance to reset bad habits, evaluate where you are at in life, get your diet and fitness under control and revive your mind, body and spirit.
Retreats are big business, but it’s hard to find anything that costs less than $1500 a week. Most good ones cost about $2500 – and that doesn’t include airfares. With some planning, you can have a similar experience for a lot less money by creating your own retreat. You can do it alone, or get your partner or a group of pals involved.
You’ll need to source comfortable, quiet accommodation that is close to a good yoga studio and health food cafe, and have a nearby day spa. Set some goals, download a meditation app, and most importantly – devise a routine that you can stick to.
What do you want to get out of your retreat? Is it a chance to unwind? To break bad habits? Do you need to reset, or look inward and evaluate where you’re at in life? A structured retreat will help you go inward – but just as these retreats have a timetable for participants each day, you should create one for yourself when you build your own retreat.
Planning is key. A full week is an ideal time to go on retreat, two weeks is even better if you want to really shift entrenched habits, or grapple with big life changes. Maybe you want to get some order in your life. Or reflect on where you are at? Or detox from an unhealthy and boozy winter – or from your devices. Or you’re recovering from a loss or break-up. Maybe all you want to do is relax and unwind.
Before you go, buy a journal and write down what you want to achieve on your retreat. It might be any of these things or a combination:
Time away from the internet and social media.
Give your body a rest – a chance to reset an unhealthy diet or lifestyle choice (you might decide not to drink alcohol or caffeine on your retreat, or have a break from meat or sugar).
Cultivate good habits, such as daily yoga or meditation.
A break from work.
Reset your body clock to early nights and early mornings.
Bring your journal with you. Before you set off, write down your goals for the retreat, and while on retreat set aside time each day to record any shifts in your inner life and wellbeing. The diary can be a good reference point for when you return, and allow you to reflect on your thought processes and progress.
One of the first questions you should ask when planning a retreat is where to go. I recommend either Ubud or Canggu, in Bali. The flights from Australia are cheap and plentiful and you won’t spend valuable retreat time recovering from jet lag. Plus, Bali has long been accustomed to guests of the spiritual seeker variety. There’s been – in Canggu and Ubud – a mini boom in vegan cafes and fancy yoga studios, with high-quality teachers from around the world giving classes.
There are also some excellent accommodation options, including reasonably priced Airbnbs in Canggu and Ubud that are close to the main yoga studios.
And at about $10 for a rigorous or relaxing hour-long massage, you can afford to have one every day of the week for the same price as a single one-hour massage in Australia.
Bali also has a long and rich tradition of healers who are consulted on everything from health complaints to emotional problems. Ask around for recommendations about healers when you arrive – a yoga studio, expats, or even a quick search on TripAdvisor should yield some tips.
In the planning stage, you should also decide what restrictions, if any, you’re going to put on what you eat and drink. Will you have a week with no alcohol? Or try veganism or kick the coffee habit? Don’t be too ambitious. Use the time on your retreat to cut back to one a day or one every few days.
FIX A ROUTINE
Once you know what you want to achieve from your retreat, and where you want to go, and the parameters you’ve set around food and drink, set a routine. No deviations, no cheeky sleep-ins.
The routine should go something like this:
Wake up early – try 6am. Meditate for 20 minutes using the Headspace or other apps that you can download on your phone.
Have a juice or small snack. Head to an early morning yoga class (7am-9am).
Feast on a big, healthy breakfast . Spend the morning writing in your journal, going for a bike ride in the backstreets, exploring nearby rice paddies, or trying a surfing lesson or a cooking class.
Lunch somewhere healthy. Quiet afternoon – read, snooze, massage.
Yin yoga class for an hour (5-6pm). Light dinner. Early night – lights out 8pm.
Try a week of this and you’ll feel amazing. One day each week should be spent in silence with minimal human contact. This, usually on day four of your retreat, allows you to reach a little deeper and develop insights.
And one day a week of your retreat should be for relaxation. Go to a fun yoga class or take the day off – mix it up a little. At Yoga Barn in Ubud on Sunday, there’s Ecstatic Dance and in Canggu, there are great Sunday restorative classes. After, go and see some live music, have a spritz, meet some new people.
Go to a restaurant that serves yummy local food that isn’t the regular health food place.
You don’t want to undo all the good work of the last week, but your Sunday fun-day can be a good chance to experience the pleasure of your destination.
SET A ROUTINE. NO DEVIATIONS, NO CHEEKY SLEEP-INS
Start the day with some meditation to clear the mind; and nourish the body with healthy options such as those at Betelnut Cafe in Canggu, Bali.