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‘Sanctuary Saturdays’ Might Be the Self-Care Practice You Need

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Last year, I had the pleasure of meeting Ashley, an amazing human being and yoga teacher. We talked a lot about yoga, life and my goals. I realized by talking to her how isolated I was as a yoga teacher because there are so few yoga teachers online. As a result, it’s very difficult to find someone who can relate to the challenges I face on a daily basis as a yoga teacher. It is also very easy to try to do everything yourself and experience burnout.

I told her about my Saturday routine and she named it “Sanctuary Saturdays.” On Saturdays, I unplug and try to do as little as possible. Sometimes I rest all day. Sometimes, I engage in radical self-care. A few months later, she told me how she was trying out my idea of Sanctuary Saturdays. She said that since she began indulging in this routine, she had so much more energy and felt more grounded and connected.

You too can reap the benefits of Sanctuary Saturdays because today, I will tell you how.

First of all, it does not have to be on Saturdays. It can be any day you like, but it has to be a day where you have no obligations — absolutely nowhere to be and nothing that has to get done. A day where you can totally unplug from the world. You may not be able to start with an entire day but you should start with at least three hours — maybe an afternoon and a morning. If possible, try to make it the same day every week. Luckily for me, I don’t work on Saturdays, so every Saturday is my “do nothing” day. If you cannot have the same day every week, try to have a sanctuary day at least every five to eight days.

Once you’ve chosen your day, afternoon or morning, you will need to retreat and disconnect from the world. Ideally, you will find a quiet spot where no one will disturb you; mine is my bed, but you may choose a park or beach. Then, you will want to turn your devices off or put them on silent. I usually place my phone on silent — that way, I am not jarred from my quiet moments and I don’t feel the need to rush to answer texts and emails. Most importantly, I do not check Facebook or respond to emails. Ideally, I don’t check any social media or answer my phone but sometimes it’s unavoidable. If anything comes up that seems pressing, I ask myself if I can do it tomorrow without the world falling apart and I find the answer is usually yes. Sometimes, it seems like the world will fall apart if we don’t respond to every text and email as quickly as possible, but as you start disconnecting you will find nothing will happen if you do not respond right away.

Once you retreat and disconnect, you will need to figure out what to do or not do. Try to develop a little ritual. You can do as little or as much as you like as long as it’s all about you. You can choose to stay in bed and watch Netflix. You can take time for personal yoga practice. Maybe go to class or practice alone at home or in nature. You may go for a long walk or hike, or sit on the beach listening to the waves. You may read a book while you quietly sip your coffee. You may make yourself a nice breakfast or take yourself out to lunch. You may go to the spa or have a spa day at home. The options are limitless. You can do anything to show love for your self and allow your body and mind to relax and recharge.

I have a secret… shhhh. My sanctuary day actually starts on Friday. On Friday afternoon, I do laundry and have a spa afternoon. I try to tidy up the house and reward myself with pampering. When I could afford it, I did reflexology every other Friday. It was amazing. Now, I use my homemade body scrub, have mani-pedi and engage in some hair removal. By the end of this hours-long ritual, I look shiny and new and we’re probably out of hot water. After this, I may crawl into bed, catch up on shows or prepare for some adult time. Adult time is important for me because I usually work during most people’s time off, so I rarely have time to socialize with adults. Then, on Saturday, the self-love continues. I usually make a nice breakfast and cook a nice lunch very early in the morning. Then, I will either crawl back into bed or venture out. I may go to the beach to relax or go to church. I don’t do either very often because I’m usually wiped out on Saturdays.

The goal of this exercise is to nourish my body, mind and create optimal conditions for rest and rejuvenation. Yoga offers us many practices that can assist with rest, relaxation, self-healing and rejuvenation. These include breathing practices and yoga nidra. Yoga nidra, also known as “psychic sleep,” is a deep relaxation practice from the Indian yoga tradition. It uses breathing visualization and focused concentration to tap into the body’s enormous potential for self-healing. Try yoga nidra by following this video on my YouTube channel.

When you’re ready to return to the busy world, try to do so slowly. I usually start by combing my hair for the week, then packing my bag for my early start on Sunday. I will then check my phone but not Facebook. I find Facebook sucks me in and ruins my Saturday bliss. I may go outside if I spent the day inside or do a little yoga if I spent the day in bed. Then, I find I am ready to face the week and whatever it may bring head on.

To sum up, here’s what you need to build your perfect weekly mini retreat to help you rest and recharge.

Choose a day or part of a day.
Retreat and disconnect.
Show yourself some love.
Do nothing.
Engage in a self-love ritual, like having a spa day, pampering or treatment like acupuncture or Reiki.
Spend time in nature.
Nourish your body, mind and soul.

I hope you find Sanctuary Saturdays as blissful as I do. If it doesn’t quite work on the first try, give it a few tries. As you get used to it, you will find your body craves this rest and that after taking a day off, you will return to optimal operating condition. Think of it as an extended savasana. Try it out and let me know how it goes.

Getty Images photo via David-Prado

Originally published: February 9, 2019
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