There’s a yoga centre in Co. Clare that puts the ‘treat’ into retreat. It’s in a gorgeous, tranquil setting beyond Liscannor. It offers the Cliffs of Moher Yoga Retreat. And it’s a place that’s very hard to leave.
One of the centre’s greatest assets is its stunning studio. Stretching out in Warrior 2, watching the gently sloping hills and the crashing surf beyond – it’s a pretty special feeling. One that makes you forget entirely about those aching thighs!
There are also 2 renovated farmhouses off the main house, each with its own sitting room and fireplace. I stayed in a bright and airy bedroom, which still maintained a distinct, traditional charm.
The Cliffs of Moher Yoga Retreat is nestled into wild, sweeping beauty – and often challenged by the West’s wild, sweeping winds – yet it still manages to evoke total peace. It’s easy to see why the centre’s owners, yoga teacher Michelle and her husband Michael, fell in love with the place at first sight.
I was there for a weekend retreat and thrilled to be in such a beautiful setting.
Once we’d enjoyed a welcome afternoon tea and been properly acquainted in the studio, Michelle asked us to set an intention for the evening’s practice – to truly retreat into ourselves.
The following yin session was a perfect start to the weekend, gentle for the body and calming for the mind. As darkness fell, the studio’s atmospheric strip lighting and flickering candles made it even more of a sanctuary.
After a thoroughly relaxing class, we trooped into the kitchen – where a mouth-watering lentil casserole and an array of colourful salads awaited us. Soon stuffed to sleepiness, we retired to the comfort of the fireside next door.
This made it waaayy easier to get up for meditation at 7.30am on Saturday morning! Unlike the previous evening, we started off in darkness and finished in light. A pretty special start to the day.
Our feelings of goodwill continued over breakfast, which included bircher muesli, porridge, granola, fruit, yoghurt, eggs and homemade bread.
After we’d finished tucking in, we got a bus to the nearby cliffs and walked for an hour along their stunning length before looping back to the centre.
Morning walks at this retreat are encouraged to be undertaken in silence – and I really cherished this experience. There’s something very special about moving within a group whilst enjoying time to yourself. The silence allows you to truly appreciate the spectacular views, rather than being distracted by conversation or as Michelle put it, ‘rushing to tell each other your stories’.
Although we began in a group, eventually we thinned out until we were walking one by one, the only sound our footsteps and the occasional birdsong. Cheesy as it may sound, it was… magical. And it was my first introduction to walking meditation, something I still try to do whenever possible.
At the end of the cliffs, we regrouped at a small, cairn-filled clearing. Michelle explained that traditionally, cairns were used to show a path when no signs were available. She likes to think that people today make cairns to mark a new pathway in their lives. Ever a sucker for sentiment, I carefully added my own stone tower.
Back at the centre, we began our first class of the day at 10.30am – a vinyasa flow practice to really wake up our bodies. The intention for the class was to listen to our ‘inner critic’ and discover what it was tuned into.
I found this to be a very worthwhile exploration as so often in yoga and in life, we end up pushing ourselves too much.
We judge and criticise when we struggle instead of breathing deeply and enjoying the moment of movement. Challenging without straining, bending not breaking. So although the class was quite energetic, it still had a peaceful vibe to it that’s missing from some of the increasingly competitive classes I’ve been to in Dublin.
Lunch was very welcome two hours later and again, the kitchen staff didn’t disappoint. We had another feast of homemade soup and bread, hummus and salads – all beautiful to look at as well as to eat.
The staff at the retreat centre know the importance of a balanced diet – and they never failed to amaze/indulge us hungry yogis with healthy treats!
On Saturday afternoon we had a few hours of free time to explore Lahinch, to discover the delights of The Rock Shop (a 5-minute walk away), to have a massage from one of the centre’s visiting therapists or simply to unwind and have a nap before our evening class at 5.30pm.
The intention for this restorative class was to ask ourselves where we could let go. After tiring our bodies with the morning’s class and walk, we welcomed the chance to stretch deeply and to eliminate tension using the breath. Knowing all that lay ahead for the evening was another delicious meal and a warming fire, letting go of tension was a cinch.
Back in the kitchen, we devoured a gorgeous black-eyed pea and coconut curry with baked potatoes. Afterwards, there was a healthy – yet delicious – beetroot and cacao cake. It was going to be hard to leave these spoils!
After a soothing meditation class and another big breakfast, it was silent walk time. As we ambled down to the seashore and through the hills back to the centre, we savoured this hour in total peace.
Our final class of the weekend focused on more playful and adventurous poses – including handstands! We also got a chance to star in the centre’s promotional video.
We had our last lunch, said farewell to the bubble we’d been encased in all weekend and brought ourselves reluctantly back to reality.
I had a deeply relaxing and rejuvenating weekend at the Cliffs of Moher Retreat Centre. Thanks to Michelle, Michael and all the staff for making it so unforgettable. And for giving me permission to use these photos. 😉
If you like what I’m reading, maybe you’ll like what else I’m into:
1. Yoga – Read my review of a special retreat centre on Ireland’s west coast.
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3. Nutrition – Some handy dietary tips, whether you’ve got hair or not!
4. Travel – My thoughts on how travel can affect your health.
5. Silly Stuff – Like the bald celebrities I’ve got a crush on.