I’ve never been on a retreat, but I’d imagine I’d be quite good at it. Not just because your typical retreat looks a bit like every holiday I’ve ever dreamed of going on, but because I (like millions of us) have become hooked on the idea of self-improvement. This is the era of self-love and we’re no longer settling for anything that doesn’t make us feel kinda bloody amazing, okay?! That goes for everything from the jeans that make our bums look awesome to the avo on toast that makes us sorta glowy from the inside.
I’d never heard of The Retreat Collection either, but it turns out that this is where we should be looking for holiday inspiration. With yoga retreats to Ibiza, Mykonos and Morocco these breaks are all about sunrise yoga, outdoor movie nights, massages, meditation sessions and healthy dining. Sign me up for all three! 5 days will set you back an average of £900 so whilst we may not all be hopping on the next flight outta here, I caught up with the founder of The Retreat Collection, Natasha, who gave up some fascinating expert tips to help us all unwind before bedtime.
1. Switch Off!
Completely switch off. I don’t just mean mentally, I mean switch off the phone, the computer and the TV; I know sometimes it’s nice to ‘switch off’ the brain watching some mindless TV, but it feels even better to turn it all off altogether. Instead how about trying one or more of the following….
2. Evening Yoga
Just a few simple stretches and yoga poses can make a massive change to your nervous system, preparing you for a restful night’s sleep. Try some of these and hold the poses for a few minutes at least, close the eyes, focus on a long steady breath and just relax.
Pigeon Pose. Lower the head to rest the forehead on the floor, back of the hands or on a brick.
Upavista Konasana. Seated Wide Legged Forward Fold. This can also be done in a restorative way with lots of pillows to rest on in front of you.
Supta Baddha Konasana. Reclined Cobbler Pose. This works well with a bolster or lots of pillows to lay on. If you were to only do one pose before sleep, I would suggest this one.
Viparita Karani. Legs up the wall. A bolster or cushion can also be used here under the hips.
Savasana. Corpse Pose. Finishing a practice with this can lead you straight into your sleep so be ready for bed with your pyjamas already on.
3. Listen to Music
Something calming… maybe trying out a little classical music. Classical music has actually been proved to encourage the production of serotonin in the brain, helping ease tension and increase our sense of joy and pleasure.
4. Have a Bath
Creating a bedtime ritual can do wonders for preparing the mind for rest. I recommend having a bath and creating your own mini home retreat with candles and low lighting. Add some lavender essential oils to promote relaxation of the mind and body, and Epsom bath salts to help restoration. When you finish get straight into bed… it won’t be long before you’re snozzzzzzing away!
5. Read a Book
Reading it a wonderful way of ending your day without over stimulation the brain before sleep. Have a book by your bedside that is purely for nighttime reading. I usually opt for light and easy reading rather than something academic or to do with work or studying.
Know that you can pick one of the above, or try them all out. I find that a nice combination of them all can make for a lovely evening ritual, preparing you for a peaceful sleep. Once you’ve done this a few times the body starts to recognise this ritual and it become easier to unwind each time and you’ll soon be drifting off into the perfect sleep.
I hope you find these expert tips helpful! I’d love to hear from you if you have trouble falling asleep or relaxing before bed. Do you find it hard to switch off your mobile? Are you guilty of just slobbing in front of the TV after a long day? (I know I am!)