What’s the deal with wellbeing retreats? Are these events worth the high cost? How can we recreate one at home?

Health and wellbeing retreats aren’t a new thing, but we’re certainly seeing more of these taking place, and they’re selling out fast. There are a variety of retreats available – from week-long retreats taking place in sunny climates, to weekend retreats in the English countryside. But why are these becoming so popular, and are they worth it? We speak to Maggie Paterson, co-founder of Sunsetbay Retreats in Tywyn, Wales.

Hi Maggie! Why do you think wellbeing retreats are becoming so popular?

People are looking for making some time for themselves to allow them to take a break from home life and/or work, especially if they are looking for a place to de-stress and relax for a while and work on their wellbeing.

A retreat gives guests an opportunity to be nurtured with healthy food and activities, it gives them time to switch off from daily life and have everything organised for them. It’s a place to recharge and start some healthier habits.

Retreats are popular for many reasons, they offer a place where anyone can travel alone and instantly have the company of like-minded people. They offer a space to recharge and relax, as well as opportunities to try out a whole host of healthy activities to clear the mind and move the body.

Can you explain the different types of retreats available?

There are a variety of retreats on the market, and they all have their benefits. Even a short, one-day retreat can help to make some significant changes and offer a short boost. Generally, the longer the retreat (for example, three to seven days) the deeper guests can go into discovering what they need to do to help make changes to their lifestyle.

At Sunsetbay Retreats, we find that three nights is perfect to fit into people’s busy lives, but five or more days, if you can take that time, can have a huge impact and be life-changing.

What might be involved?

It will vary depending on the length of the retreat, the location, the time of year and the intention of the retreat itself. However, common activities include scenic walks, cold water dips, wild swimming, meals of nourishing, local and seasonal food, massages, paddleboarding, sound baths, meditation, and various yoga practices.

For those of us who can’t afford the cost right now, is there a way we can create our own wellness retreat at home?

Online workshops have become massive over the past few years, and there are many available to dip into, including online retreats (a mini course of sorts, which offers yoga practices and guided meditations for a small cost)! Youtube has some wonderful practices in yoga, Yoga Nidra, meditation etc. and there are a number of great apps available for all levels, styles and duration to fit into people’s lives and budgets.

It’s also worth looking into what’s going on in your local and surrounding area. Many yoga studios and teachers will host events and retreats throughout the year, for varying prices. You can also check out events, guided meditation workshops etc. taking place locally to you on Therapy Directory.

What is Yoga Nidra?

Yoga Nidra is a form of guided meditation, commonly known as ‘yogic sleep’. Anyone can practice Yoga Nidra as it mostly takes place lying down in savasana (corpse pose) with a teacher guiding the session. The practice is focused on rest, pulling our attention inwards to find our bodies natural state of equilibrium. For more information, there is a great article written by James Reeves on ekhartyoga.com.

Maggie’s tips for creating your own at-home wellness retreat
Make a fresh juice each day using a juicer, with green apples, lemons and ginger as the base.

Plan your meals in advance; eat a fresh diet, avoiding refined foods where possible.

Aim for a two-mile walk every day.

Stretch your body once a day, either by joining a local class or following an online video.

Take five minutes to practice meditation (if you’re new to meditation, there are many apps available, or you can try the short guided meditation below).

Aim to do one different-but-stimulating activity every day that is affordable. This may include going for a swim, running or even braving a cold shower!

Practice some self-care, whatever that means for you. Settle down for the evening with a face mask, light a candle, read a new book, try a new recipe or perhaps bathe in aromatherapy oils.

Meet up with – or call – a friend to share your thoughts or simply have a good chinwag!

Get an early night, listening to soothing music or finding a Yoga Nidra practice, and getting into bed at a reasonable hour (which will allow you to achieve seven to eight hours of sleep).

Breathe deeply and laugh often!

You may be thinking that you do some or all of these activities already, so what makes it a retreat at home? Well, sometimes it’s giving yourself that time to truly dedicate yourself to the small pleasures and activities that you love to do. Why not use the above to create your own itinerary to enjoy with a group of friends together for a day or weekend?

There are so many lovely benefits to an externally organised retreat, but not everyone is able to dedicate the time or invest the money. By creating one for yourself, you can enjoy many of the benefits for a fraction of the cost.

Of course, at the end of the day, if you’re able to and want to invest in a health retreat, then you’re likely to have a really wonderful time. You’ll be surrounded by like-minded people, experiencing activities and opportunities designed to improve your mind and body.

From what I hear, you’re going to leave feeling fulfilled and with many new friends. But the benefits aren’t only available to those able to part with the time and money. You can create a similar experience at home, if you’re able to dedicate a little time for yourself – be it through daily habits or scheduling your own weekend retreat, a day or two to focus on you.

Maggie is co-founder of Sunsetbay Retreats, hosting well-being retreats throughout the year in the charming seaside town of Tywyn, Wales. For more information on their upcoming events, visit sunsetbayretreats.com or follow their Instragam, @sunsetbayretreats.

The other Maggie at Sunseybay Retreats – sound therapist Maggie Langton – explores the benefits of sound therapy on Therapy Directory. Here you can read more about the power of sound, the various instruments used and how you can try sound healing at home.

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