Serenity in the sunshine


YOU SIT UP a little straighter after a conversation with yoga teacher Sinead O'Connor, and you also find yourself feeling a little more composed. As a former contemporary dancer, O'Connor's aim is to help people discover their balance, and some serenity, too.

And if just chatting over a cup of tea has such a good effect, a week spent in her company in a glorious modernist villa on the island of Ibiza sounds like the best tonic you could possibly have. O'Connor's take on the idea of the Yoga Retreat Holiday is refreshing. "It's not boot camp," she says. "Not all brown rice and rustic self-denial?" I ask. "Not at all," she says with a laugh.

The venue for the week is pretty spectacular: twin villas, set in a pine forest, up a mountain. They are on Ibiza's quiet and chic northern side, with views to the sea. The villas are the work of Irishman John Meagher of architecture firm de Blacam and Meagher, who has done what he describes as "a fair bit of work" on the island, commissions coming from friends and by word of mouth. He is a regular visitor to Ibiza (he has a studio there, though the firm's base is in Dublin), and he describes working on a sunshine paradise island as being a world away from what architects face here. And these villas presented a very different set of challenges to, for example, the house the firm designed for Jim Sheridan on Dalkey Sound.

"Working on Ibiza is good fun," he says. You don't have to worry about damp-courses, just getting some shade, and air moving through." These villas are "very green, low energy spaces, with simple gardens planted with indigenous plants."

It all sounds very idyllic. And was the modernist, minimalist design his own choice? "It was the brief, but that's what I would have done anyway."

O'Connor discovered the villas on a recce trip to Ibiza, and realised they would be perfect for her yoga holidays. "There's a Zen feel to them," she says. Guests will chill out, with yoga in the mornings and evenings, and the rest of the time free to relax, and explore the delights of the island. Groups are small (about 16 people), and the week-long experience is all about letting mind and body remember what it's like to relax, to feel good, to be balanced.

In addition to organising yoga retreat holidays, O'Connor also takes private clients and works with companies such as Dell, Arup and Citibank, de-stressing the executives through yoga, and takes classes in Ranelagh and Dublin city centre. She specialises in Vinyasa yoga, which is all about flowing movements. But, she says, "don't forget, it's fun too. Definitely fun."

The Hush Yoga Ibiza Retreat takes place from May 23rd to 30th. For more information and bookings see, or e-mail