Drop in, bliss out: a yoga retreat with a difference

A four-day forest retreat promises yoga, food, dance, creativity and a lot more, writes Kate Holmquist

To "drop in" is the new phrase for turning off technology and being one with yourself and nature. It's reminiscent of that 1960s motto "Turn on, tune in, drop out" a counterculture-era phrase popularised by Timothy Leary in 1966. Esalen retreat at Big Sur – part of the cultural backdrop in True Detective and Mad Men – espoused that hippy dreams could change the world. Nearly 60 years later, we know we can't change the world, but we can change ourselves.

Enter Ireland's 21st century New Age practitioners with opportunities to "drop in" and experience fully all the senses. There's no better example than The Yoga Salon with "Celebrate – a four day exploration of joy", which from August 6th to 9th at Shawbrook House, Shawbrook Forest, Co Longford. The retreat will be hosted by Kathy Scott, who practised and taught yoga for 15 years, and Mari Kennedy, a leadership coach whose clients include Microsoft. They will be joined by "food alchemist" and artist Fink Hallinan, and artist and DJ Glamo Frowney.

Scott cherishes the weeks away from technology when she can "drop in". Speaking from an isolated wifi-free cottage in Kinvara, Co Galway, the former full-time and now occasional PR woman says: "I like to be in the middle of the action and then to retreat. . .Shawbrook House is forested with cabins in the woods. It's near the Hill of Uisneach, where the Celtic god Lugh is from, and holds a point of energy."

The energy of a place, she adds, is “about feeling a resource springing from the land that will allow people to go a little wild – all the senses are activated.”

The nomadic Yoga Salon – which operates four retreats a year, two in Ireland, two abroad – promises to create a magical experience inspired by the Celtic festival of Lunasa, combining yoga, movement, breath-work, mindfulness, food and other creative practices to "unleash your full potential". Men and women of all ages have attended in the past and while yoga experience is ideal, beginners are welcome too.

Hallinan, “a wizard in the kitchen” creates food events for Imma, the Centre Culturel Irlandais and others. She will teach foraging, start each day with elixirs, and serve vegetarian meals, but no wine, “though maybe on the last night. You can’t do yoga hungover,” says Scott.

Frowney, a "cheerleader for change" through her Kickstart programme, will guide participants in creating talisman jewellery and head pieces incorporating found objects, feathers and items they treasure, such as a grandmother's ring.

Four night retreat is €395 in dorm/€520 in shared apartment. See theyogasalon.net