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Report Gabi Gillessen Hatha yoga week 2011

(photos will be added soon to this page)

Gabi Gillessen taught a week long Hatha Yoga retreat at the Burren Yoga and Meditation Centre in July 2011.

Please note these photos were all taken in a ‘mock-class’


There was no intrusion of photos during the classes ;-)

As a result, some of these photos may not relate directly to all of Gabi’s amazing classes, and only serve to give a sample of the work that she did with each one of us.

The course participants came from different parts of the world including France, Germany, England and different parts of Ireland.

The course began on Friday evening at 7:00 PM with dinner, and finished the following Thursday at noon.

By 5:00 PM on Friday the course participants began arriving and Dave showed them to their rooms and around the centre.

Some went for a walk around the peaceful tranquil area and others put their feet up in the lounge which overlooks the Burren hills and settled in to the tranquil atmosphere and started to get to know their course companions who would be with them for the next week.

Comment for one course participant

“Thank you for making our week of Yoga fun and accessible for us all. You have inspired, challenged and supported us. This has been a very special week that I will never forget.” – Neetha from UK

Some comments from the other course participants can be seen at the end of this report.

Gabi’s description of the course

Gabi – “I arrived in the Burren at the end of a bad dose of sinus & with an impressive cough – not a great advert for the benefits of yoga! But this is my Achilles heel – I do too much, I don’t get enough rest & my body lets me know about it! But once I had met the group of 11 participants, enjoyed a delicious meal I already began to feel a whole lot better!

Meeting everybody in the lounge as they arrived and over dinner was lovely, and the tranquil feeling of the Burren Yoga and Meditation Centre and the homely warm atmosphere had everybody feeling relaxed almost immediately and there was a lot of chatting and laughter going on as we all began to get to know each other.

In the first session on Friday evening we explored the breath, chose a suitable seated position (which we would be using each morning for our meditation practice) & we discussed the eight limbs of yoga to see where meditation fits into the bigger picture of yoga practice. After a moving relaxation practice (in an effort to keep everyone awake & aware) it was time for bed!

The Friday evening session finished about 10:30 pm and we stayed silent until the meditation class the following morning at 8:00 am on Saturday.


On Saturday morning we started our first meditation session which consisted of an introduction for complete beginners and gentle guided instruction so that each person became familiar with the practice.


After the meditation session, we began the asana class with a strong standing posture practice


– developing a solid base, a rooted foundation to support our work of the rest of the week.

Each of us worked at our own level, and the group ranged from complete beginners to advanced.


In relaxation we supported the legs to allow them complete rest.


After breakfast & getting to know each other better Dave led us on a hill walk to an ancient fort at the top of Black Head at the opening of Galway bay.


As we climbed the hill we could see out over the Atlantic Ocean and the 3 Aran Islands.


Dave told us about the geology of the Burren explaining that 420 million years ago that The Burren was a shallow coral sea which was located 10 degrees South of the Equator and had moved Northwards as a result of the tectonic movement of the plates of the Earth.


The Burren Rock is amazing to walk on.

We had 11 people on the course, and it was great to chat and get to know each other and hear about other people’s lives as we walked and took in the amazing scenery.


One of the most noticeable things about The Burren is the silence…. and feeling of ‘peace and calm’.


And on our walks we had plenty of time to sit down, take in the amazing scenery and to just ‘be’.


Many parts of the Irish countryside one hears tractors or farm machinery…. Not so in the magical Burren.

As the area mainly consists of these limestone hills plunging down into the Atlantic ocean… the only farming are a few farmers who have cattle in the hills in the winter…. and they take them down to lower pastures in the summer in order to protect the amazing array of Burren wild flowers which are protected.


After our hill walk we went for lunch in a lovely cafe called Vasco which is near Fanore beach and overlooks the Atlantic ocean.

After lunch, as the sea was exceptionally calm we headed to Doolin and caught a boat trip along the Cliffs of Moher.


Wow what an impressive sight!!


To see these magnificent cliffs looking up from a boat must be the most impressive ways to see the cliffs!


The boat trip is great fun and


the feeling of being out on the sea in one of the most beautiful parts of Ireland is exhilarating.




After our boat trip we headed back to the Burren Yoga Centre and the smells of the amazing vegetarian food greeted our nostrils as we walked through the door ;-)


The chat and the laughter in the kitchen after another scrumptious meal had to be experienced to get that lovely feeling.


After dinner we partook in the usual karma yoga clean up and took some time out before our evening yoga class.


About 9:00 pm we settled ourselves into a restorative Baddha Konasana & some more explorative breath work.


When the class was over, we chatted over a cup of tea & then luxuriously curled up in bed with a good book – recuperation setting in, in earnest!

Wow….. this was only the first day!

It’s amazing what one can fit in during one day at the Burren Yoga and Meditation Centre.

Sunday morning after meditation we woke up both hemispheres of the brain through some intense & restorative twists.


Moving with the breath, holding postures & also allowing ourselves to be completely supported, we looked at what lies behind & in front of us, to our left & to our right.


To-day Dave took us for a walk along the beach


& some of us even braved the water!!


Then feeling refreshed and very much alive, we went for lunch in this amazing place “The Tea Rooms” in Ballyvaughan”.

Dave knows all the best places to eat in the area, and has very good connections with the owners of local eateries, and as he told us…. “they reserve the best tables for us, and give us great service… as well as the amazing food ;-)

After a delicious lunch we went for another walk on this piece of land that sticks out into Ballyvaughan bay. Not another soul to be seen ;-)


In our first afternoon session we worked on the strength & flexibility of the shoulders & arms to prepare us for inversions & before anyone even had time to think about it we were upside down in Sirsasana (headstand) & Sarvangasana (shoulderstand).





And after a short time for relaxation



after the class we sat down to another amazing vegetarian feast in a very warm atmosphere of feeling great….. chatting to new friends…. and almost forgetting what day it is.

After dinner, clean up & some fresh air we allowed the breath to led us into deep relaxation.

On Monday morning we lifted our hearts & our energies in an open hearted backbend practice, working all the way to Urdhva Danurasana (backbend).

These photos were from a more advanced course

There was a choice of relaxation positions – either keeping the chest supported to keep our hearts lifted or keeping the calves supported to release tension from the lower back.

Judging by the smiles everyone felt rather uplifted.

This was a free day for everyone & we had a variety of ways in which to indulge in it.

Some of the group went sailing with Dave in Kinvara,


many of us enjoyed a deep tissue massage

& others even went to explore the Ailwee Caves & bird park.

When we all came back together in the evening we had another sumptuous feast and shared what we had seen and the places we had visited in the afternoon.

In the evening session we explored three phase breathing in a few interesting ways that connected everyone to their breaths a little more subtly.

Tuesday morning was spent exploring forward bending postures – how we look in on ourselves.


We prepared the legs with strong stretches & internalized our relaxation practice with eye covers.


After breakfast we prepared as usual to head out on the new adventure that Dave had planned for us.

After the morning’s class, a feeling of ‘Calm tranquility’ had overcome us & it was in this mood that we entered the ‘secret forest’


& took some quiet time on the top of the hill –


we sat in silence grateful for the experience & our beautiful surroundings.


When we came back down from the hill, we came back to the seashore


we walked along the ‘Flaggy Shore’


strolling along taking our time to stop and look at the fossils in the rocks, listen to the sea, and just chill out in this unspoilt Nature all around us.


All the time appreciating this magical place and feeling our own Nature within.

Then Dave took us for lunch at the amazing Linnane’s Lobster bar. Dave assured us that there was lovely vegetarian soup and always a great vegetarian dish of the day, as well as a huge selection of baked crab, sea food chowder, smoked salmon, clam soup, mussels cooked in different ways, a full seafood platter or many other selections.


Dave gave us a tip that the coffee at this restaurant was not the best, so advised that we either try the best coffee in the area at Burren Beo in Kinvara, or that we return to the centre put the feet up and enjoy a herbal tea, real tea or even percolated coffee.

Ahhhh this is the life ;-)

In our afternoon practice we turned ourselves upside down again all managing Adho Mukha Vrksasana (arm balance) & a longer practice of Sarvangasana (shoulderstand) with some variations.

And then a little time to put the feet up and wonder what would be served up for dinner today ;-)


In our evening practice, after another fantastic meal, we explored different variations of Viparita Karani which definitely prepared us for bed.


What day is it?

On Wednesday morning’s practice we put all the work we had covered so far together & enjoyed a complete practice, working our way through standing, twisting, back bending, forward bending & inverted postures.

Working in this way we not only felt complete in ourselves but complete as a group & personally my dose of sinus had completely disappeared!

Our final outing took us to Saint Colman’s cave


which is nestled in an idyllic forest covered in ferns & moss.


Colman had meditated here for 7 years back in the Eight Century, and it was amazing to see this beautiful location and wonder how he managed to survive for so long in such a remote place.


Maybe we will see you on Gabi’s retreat here next year? ;-)




What a beautiful flower garden & what fabulous smells!


And then on to lunch at Cassidy’s pub. We enjoyed a great lunch together & took our time over the meal and afterward to chat and enjoy the company of our new friends whom we have gotten to know pretty well over the past week.

And once again we returned to Burren Yoga to be greeted with more tasty smells reminding us that dinner was being looked after,


and we enjoyed the evening chatting and just hanging out, before finishing Wednesday


with a lovely restful practice in the yoga room.


On Thursday morning, no-one could quite believe how quickly the week had passed & to send everyone home in a quiet, restful mood we finished our practice with a complete supported practice.


Those of us who didn’t need to rush away lingered over breakfast, resisting returning to our hectic lives & willing the quiet peacefulness to remain with us.

It was definitely a wonderful week.

I met such interesting, wonderful people from so many different countries.

Dave’s enthusiasm of the Burren was pretty infectious & there’s no way we would have seen the places we did without his knowledge of the area.

Everyone’s needs were met with a great balance of activity & rest & how spoilt we were with fresh, delicious food!


I would highly recommend workshops in the Burren whether you’re a seasoned practitioner or a yoga novice – there certain is something for everyone in this exquisite place.”

Om Shanti Gabi

Comments from the course participants

“Thank you for making our week of Yoga fun and accessible for us all. You have inspired, challenged and supported us. This has been a very special week that I will never forget.” – Neetha from UK

“Thank you for making our week so special – I have learnt a lot and hope to keep it up when I get home.” Colette from Armagh

“Thanks for a really informative week, a great time in your company and a great help on my journey in yoga. I have learnt a lot from you & hope to meet up with you again in the future.” – Barry from Armagh

“What can I say – you managed to get my ‘older’ body into positions I thought I was past doing (some of them brought back happy memories!). Well done, your being calm, supportive & fun and I have really enjoyed the challenges you threw out. You are wonderful.” Sue from UK

“I’ve very much enjoyed the gentle & subtle way in which you led us towards strong and demanding postures. It’s amazing to realise we are doing a headstand without even finding it hard! And the meditation / relaxation have been a great discovery for me. I can now go back home with enough input as to meditate on my own. I will keep you & the group in my mind & in my heart.” – Fransoise from Belgium

“I feel more in touch with my body & soul than I have in a long time! Although I have been doing yoga at home, it has been a very different experience here & you’ve managed to coax my body to bend & stretch beyond my expectations! My mojo has returned & I hope to keep up some of the moves & meditation, relaxation plus breathing properly, as part of my new Gabi / Burren routine. I will visualise you when I do yoga alone & look forward to that Gabi CD. Hope we meet again someday – the craic has been brilliant.” – Dee from UK

“I very much enjoyed your classes & your profound way of teaching. All the stretches & postures helped me to get rid of my headaches & back pains. Thank you so much!! I found that using the props was extremely helpful & new to me. I very much appreciated the way you looked after everyone & made us work hard at the same time. It’s a shame that we only had two afternoon classes because I would have enjoyed doing a bit of theory too. Maybe next time? You’ve been a brilliant teacher & have an amazing personality. Thanks again & I’m looking forward to seeing you again.” – Cristina from Germany

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