Create Your Own Sleep Retreat in 6 Easy Steps

I just completed a ten day sleep retreat. I didn’t plan it, it just happened. I didn’t realize how sleep deprived I was until I started sleeping 10-11 hours at a stretch.

Last month I struggled with insomnia. I’d wake up at 2, 3 or 4 in the morning and my busy mind would not let me fall back asleep. It was a rough couple of weeks, but it gave me a firsthand experience of what many people struggle with on a daily basis.

To share some stats about sleep disorders… according to the American Sleep Association:

  • 50-70 million Americans have a sleep disorder.
  • Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder.
  • 30% of adults suffer from short term insomnia.
  • 10% of adults struggle with chronic insomnia.

The average adult requires 7-9 hours of sleep. Approximately one third of Americans report that they get less than 7 hours of sleep during a typical 24 hour period. Sleep disorders have been linked to drowsy driving, obesity, and death (due to medical errors).

People are taking steps to address sleeping disorders. Many luxury hotels and resorts have started offering Sleep Vacation packages. In an effort to combat stress, many couples are choosing to sleep alone.

[Recommended Reading: British couples too stressed to sleep in same bed.]

The practice of Sleep Yoga also encourages practitioners to sleep separately. Sleeping alone increases relaxation and allows for a more individualized dreaming experience.

Sleeping alone is one of 6 recommended steps for creating your own Personal Yoga Sleep Retreat. If spending a couple thousand dollars on a weekend getaway doesn’t fit your budget, a DIY home sleep retreat is an affordable and effective alternative.

Step 1: Take a Stay-cation. Give yourself the gift of some quiet time at home. Clear your schedule, and resist the impulse to fill it back up again.

Step 2: Clean your bedroom. Wipe down surfaces, vacuum, wash your sheets. Sort through clutter and donate items you aren’t using anymore.

Step 3: Avoid caffeine. People have different sensitivity levels to caffeine. As a general rule, if your goal is to fall asleep by 10pm reduce your caffeine intake after 5pm.

Step 4: Minimize exposure to artificial lights (this includes screen time). Candlelight or low lights will help you wind down.

Step 5: Bathe before bed. Take a shower or (even better) a bath. Adding a cup of Epsom salts to your bath will relax your muscles and increase your ability to sleep. Put on clean sleeping clothes and relax in bed with the lights off.

Step 6: Sleep alone (if you have the option to do so). It makes a huge difference in the quality of your sleep.

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Personal Retreat Reflections

Retreat Musings

Self Teacher Study – Freedom Yoga Immersion Part II

Freedom Yoga Immersion Part II

This is the second half of my review of Erich Schiffmann’s Freedom Yoga Immersion. As inspiring as this online course was I did see a few red flags along the way. To be honest, I almost stopped watching at Day 4. But I pushed through and remembered to use what works and leave the rest. Here’s what I left behind and what I’ll take into the future…

#1: Watching Television. At one point a student asked if it was possible to practice “being online” while watching television. Schiffmann said yes, but I do not recommend watching television.

#2: The All One/One Love lectures had a heavy New Age-propaganda spin to them. I detected elements of “idiot compassion” (a phrase coined by Chogyam Trungpa) and the psychological warfare tactics described by KGB defector Yuri Bezmenov.

#3: The Milarepa Necklace. Schiffmann was seemingly unaware of the implications of wearing an image of this Tibetan yogi and sorcerer. This is not to be taken lightly. Not from anyone, not even an eccentric long-haired hippy.

#4: Food/Vegetarianism. I do not recommend attempting to replace food with love. Love is an emotion. You have to eat to survive. What you choose to eat has a direct impact on your physical and mental health.

#5: Free Will. Schiffmann believes that the best use of free will is to not use it. When it comes to spiritual practices it’s very easy to get lost in the “follow the leader” mentality. Handing over your free will to whatever you believe might be your intuitive connection to the Divine… well, that requires a high level of discernment, training and self-cultivation.

The Slow Path is Best

Learning how to engage with your intuition takes time. Traditionally, a guru and an aspirant would test one another over ten years before entering into a formal student-teacher relationship. I would suggest taking this same approach with your intuition. We’re talking about unraveling a lifetime of habituated thought patterns in order to understand who you are. And that’s just the beginning!

By all means, connect with your intuition through your body. Practice letting go in savasana (a preparation for dying). Get comfortable with feeling open, expansive and unguarded. Practice listening to your inner guidance in this relaxed state. Ask for guidance that is in alignment with your highest good. Connect with your desire to know.

Something’s going on here, … , 

Little Dharma Sessions

Coming back to what worked. I’m so grateful to have been able to take this training for free. The two parts that were most helpful were Schiffmann’s encouragement to:

  1. Write more. I so appreciated the recommendation to jot down my on-the-mat inspirations, and to continue writing articles. He called these practices “good little dharma sessions.”
  2. Do my yoga with people. This idea challenges and inspires me so much that I’m thinking about offering a class that includes a free-form practice component. To explore my own take on Freedom Yoga.

I highly recommend this course to anyone who is interested in developing their own yoga practice.

Personal Retreat Reflections

Personal Retreat ReflectionsI’m on a personal retreat right now and have been diving into my practice. I’ve wanted to take an inner-teacher sabbatical during the holidays for years. I feel blessed to have an abundance of uninterrupted practice time. It puts me back into alignment with my own rhythms. And my inclination is to find ways to share this bounty with others. So here goes…

Winter is a time for hibernation.

The life-giving source of energy that comes from the sun is in short supply. Winter is also the season when apana, the downward current of energy is most prevalent. Apana is the force of energy that governs elimination in the body (excretion, urination, menstruation). Psychologically, it’s best described as a state of introversion. In nature it’s the force that draws sap down into the tree’s roots.

The holiday season presents an interesting counterbalance, which typically requires a great deal of output – emotionally, socially, financially, and physically. These cultural pressures don’t necessarily align with the laws of nature. Being extroverted can be very challenging when we’re disconnected from our natural rhythms. And with so much emphasis on externalization it’s easy to fall into the mental trap of thinking that we are not enough.

We might try to power through the season like a marathon runner but that’s a great way to make ourselves sick. Eating foods that we don’t typically eat, drinking excess amounts of alcohol and running around in the cold can take a significant toll on our physical health. Over stimulation and stress can make us feel like we’re wearing an invisible suit of armor.

While it is possible to cultivate energy through the holidays, it’s very important that we have enough gas in our tanks. So how to do this? Here are some simple suggestions of ways to practice “refilling your cup.”

  • Stay hydrated – drink plenty of room temperature, filtered water.  Add a little fresh lemon or lime juice if you have them on hand.
  • Eat the most beautiful food.
  • Be mindful of CATS (caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, sugar).
  • Turn off your television.
  • Avoid violent movies and fear-induced media hype.
  • Go outside and spend time in nature.
  • Don’t read the news when you’re eating.
  • Go to bed when you’re tired or take a nap.
  • Slow down.
  • Meditate. Light a candle or sit by a fireplace (the ultimate television).
  • Exercise. Move in ways that your body enjoys.
  • Breathe. A lot.
  • Relax in the sunshine.
  • Play, laugh, love.
  • Drink tea.
  • Sing your songs.

What are some other ways to nourish your spirit during this time of year? Feel free to leave a comment in the box below.