Review: Cliffs of Moher Yoga Retreat
Celebrating joy on Ireland's breathtaking Atlantic coast
Celebrating joy was my mission while attending a 4-day yoga retreat at the Cliffs of Moher Yoga centre in Co Clare on Ireland's Wild Atlantic coastline. I have been lucky enough to practice yoga in some of the world’s most intoxicating locations but the stunning views from this calming shala certainly top them all. This is not said lightly I assure you, just view the photos and check out the reviews. It was nigh on impossible to close my eyes during meditation, for fear it would have disappeared once my eyes reopened!
This small collection of retreat buildings, gardens and yoga studio is situated in the wilds of West Clare, just minutes walk from the breath-taking Cliffs of Moher, the country’s most visited natural attraction, and some wonderful bathing spots. The focus of this particular retreat, hosted by yoga and mindfulness teacher Mari Kennedy, was the ancient Celtic Calendar Cycle.
We celebrated the festival of Lughnasa, one of the 8 festivals in the Celtic calendar through yoga, meditation, some internal exploration, a few tears and plenty of laughs. Lughnasa was traditionally a joyful time when the Celtic people gathered to celebrate the harvest. They honoured the God Lugh (the many gifted one) and over this long weekend our group of 18 or so explored our relationship to joy in our contemporary world.
“There are many things in our lives to celebrate and appreciate, but because we are hardwired for negativity we rarely stop to count our blessings and experience the joy,” Kennedy said. Quoting the ancient Buddhist philosophy of 10,000 joys and 10,000 sorrows, she added: “We will not have met joy until we have fully met our sorrows. We must allow ourselves to be open to both – to feel the joy and indeed feel the sorrow.” Transforming this habitual tendency through yoga, mindfulness and coaching was the aim – in other words to linger and let the good in and begin to rewire our brains.
What I continue to find so inspiring about Mari is her deeply grounded appreciation of a myriad practices – yoga, celtic wisdom, body-mind centering and the expressive arts – practices she cleverly intertwines to guide students to realise the truth of who they really are and to help them live life to its fullest. To quote neuropsychologist Rick Hanson, “to feel more joy you need to experience more joy” and in essence this is what Mari strives to achieve.
Food and accommodation was on par with the classes – the best of wholesome vegetarian meals and plenty of it – many ingredients freshly gathered from the garden. We couldn’t have asked for more and certainly didn’t go hungry (as can happen at some other retreats!)
If you are not a seasoned practitioner rest assured these retreats are doable at all levels – don’t take it from me either, as the following TripAdvisor review recently posted: “Mari Kennedy’s retreat was awesome. I was out of practice and never a serious yoga practitioner, but the classes were cleverly designed to be challenging but doable for all ability levels. I had been worried I would be out of my depth with four hours of yoga a day, as my fitness levels are only mediocre. Some people there were novices like me, others were lifetime practitioners. One and all they loved the classes and the four days.” No idea who penned it but my sentiments entirely!
Result: A joyful physical and emotional overhaul, plus some wonderful new like-minded friends!
Top Tip: Book in advance and try to get the more spacious rooms opening on to the garden AND avail of the comfiest sofa ever in the living area which during colder seasons is warmed by the big open fire…..more reason for me to return for the winter solstice!
Room for improvement? Difficult to be critical here as Michael and Michelle Moroney (the owners) really know their audience. If I have to be supercritical, the hot tub could have been set to the optimal temperature – it was boiling!
Will I return? YES YES YES
Cost: Twin Share Room: €525, 3 nights all inclusive (check website as prices can vary)
Next up at the Cliffs of Moher Celtic Calendar is the Samhain retreat from October 28th. It’s the time of the Caileach, the Goddess in the form of the hag in the Celtic wisdom tradition and marks the feminine part of the year. More information here.