Beat a retreat
Take a little time out this winter for your mind, body and spirit, writes SANDRA O’CONNELL
THE LONG NIGHTS of winter can invite introspection – too much of which can put anyone in a grump. It’s also much easier to veg out in front of the fire than to get out and do something. All in all, it can amount to a pretty unhealthy recipe for life.
That’s why winter is the perfect time for a retreat of the mind, body or spirit – or all three. And happily, you won’t have to go abroad to do so.
Cloona Health Retreat, which is three miles outside Westport, in Co Mayo ( cloona.ie), was established in the 1960s. Today it’s the place to go if you want to de-stress, detox or even lose some fat. Programmes include a mix of guided walks, yoga, sauna and massage.
“If you are stressed out you can take time in a hotel, but that doesn’t always help the problem,” says owner Dhara Kelly. “Working on de-stressing is an art in itself, one that takes a little rigour or discipline, but which can also be enjoyable while resting your mind.”
A week’s residential programme costs €590 and, with 60 per cent of its guests returning, they must be doing something right.
Ard Nahoo ( ardnahoo.com) in Leitrim also offers a retreat programme, where you can stay in your own eco-cabin and soak up the peace and quiet. A two-night visit there includes outdoor hot tub, massage, organic food and yoga. It costs €260 per person mid-week, whether sharing or not, and €360 at weekends. While you are there, you can opt for add-ons such as a one-to-one yoga class, more food, or an infrared sauna for an additional fee.
Glendalough in Wicklow is particularly gorgeous right now and even a simple walk there will do you a power of good. For a more concentrated dose, however, check out Glendalough Hermitage ( glendaloughhermitage.ie).
“We welcome people of all faiths and none,” says Margaret Prendergast, one of three nuns who run it. Visitor numbers are up significantly. “We have seen a very definite increase in recent times. It could be that in a recession people like to get back to their spirit, their centre, their God,” she says. “Maybe they just want to get off the merry-go-round a little and take time for solitude and reflection.”