Report Michael Ryan July Hatha yoga retreat
Michael Ryan’s report for the Burren Yoga and Meditation Centre 29th July – 4th August
Michael – “Arriving on Friday afternoon at the Burren Yoga and Meditation Centre, I meet Dave (the Owner) and Walt, a guest from Chicago, both with big smiles and instantly I was reminded why I do what I do.
The feeling when one arrives at the Burren Yoga and Meditation Centre is one of peace and calm, but there is also a warmth and friendliness about the centre and one feels at home right away.
I met the rest of the group over dinner and already they were getting on like a house on fire (which is a good thing).
That first evening I met with everyone individually to discuss any issues or concerns they may have had. This is great for me as I begin the process of understanding the unique bodies and beings that have arrived and moving toward tailoring the practice of the week to support their needs.
We then moved into an orientation chat with Dave about the centre and also making everyone aware that we all come to the Burren Yoga and Meditation Centre for different reasons. Dave reminded us that some people come here for a holiday, while some others come here to escape from stressful life situations, and he reminded us to interact with each other with sensitivity and to be mindful of this.
One thing we all have in common is that we are here to partake in the quality yoga and meditation classes, enjoy amazing vegetarian food by Paddi the chef and to enjoy the organized outdoor outings each day. And to have some great fun and enjoyment along the way.
We finished the evening with some gentle movement and meditation.
We begin the mornings in silence as an opportunity to be with oneself at the beginning of the day. Everyone arrived into the yoga room by 8am and we sat in meditation for 10 – 15 minutes.
Then we begin to move, slowly and steadily at first. The movement will always be connected to a theme and on this day we talked about ‘being open’, feeling and developing sensitivity and how these traits support us making wiser choices in our lives and ultimately living lives that feel more balanced and harmonious.
After a hearty breakfast we assembled for an adventure into one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world.
On this day we went for a hill walk up Black Head which is at the opening of Galway bay. Most of the group climbed to the top to see the ancient ruined fort that is over 1,000 years old, while a few people chose to have a nice easy walk beside the Atlantic ocean and enjoying the feeling of being ‘by the sea’.
The hill walk took about 45 minutes and the views over the Atlantic and the Aran Islands was spectacular. There are many different wild flowers and the Burren rock has to be seen to be believed. Dave told us that it used to be the ‘bed of the sea’ about 420 million years ago.
After our hill climb feeling energized but pleasantly tired, we headed off to a lovely little café Vasco which overlooks the Atlantic. Everyone enjoyed the food and there was a lovely atmosphere as we chatted about our day so far, and got to know each other.
After lunch, we went on a boat trip to see the Cliffs of Moher, from the sea, it was quite an spectacular way to do it.
After the boat trip, we headed back to the centre, admiring the beauty of the Burren on the way and enjoying some good chat in the car.
When we arrived back at the Burren Yoga and Meditation Centre, we were met by delicious smells of cooking.
After another delicious meal we met up in the yoga room to sit and meditate. I find as the week progresses it gets easier to sit and move into a deeper place within. To connect with a place that feels stiller.
In silence we met and sat in meditation. Some had never meditated before but recognizing that it is simply an adventure; the practice of learning to be in the moment, really opened to it.
We sat for 15 minutes and then slowly moved into our yoga practice, focusing on turning inside to create a movement that is an expression of our hearts desire; to play with finding the connection between our inner reality and our outer manifestation; to be with the breath and to be present.
This morning’s practice was slightly more challenging than yesterdays and the guys shone through.
After breakfast, Dave arranged for us to go on a guided walk near Mulloughmore mountain with a park ranger. It was one of the most beautiful and informative walks I have had in the Burren, and it was wonderful to hear about the flowers and plant life as well as the rocks and how they were formed.
We went for another great lunch in a spectacular location which overlooks one of the valleys in The Burren, looking out onto one of the biggest Torloughs (disappearing lake) in Europe. After lunch we had some time to rest and then had an afternoon yoga session focusing on opening the hips and lower back; a grounding practice which supported ease in sitting in meditation.
Following the afternoon yoga class, we had another very tasty dinner and the laughter and chat in the kitchen had to be experienced to be believed 😉
We had out usual meditation session in the evening and then it was reasonably early to bed.
We began as usual with sitting in silence watching our breath for 15 minutes again. Our yoga practice was again a little more challenging as everyone is beginning to open up more and more.
We worked with the idea of ‘Agni’ which is the fire of transformation. And how in our lives we need at times to cultivate this fire to move to a deeper awareness or understanding of ourselves.
After breakfast we had the day to be quite and rest and walk and be.
A local masseuse called Devatara came to the centre to give massages, and some people opted for massages while a few of us had a great swim at one of the local beaches.
We meet up for dinner at 6:30pm and then meditation at 9pm. We did some chanting during our meditation tonight. I find it amazing how the yoga room and everyone in it feels after a good meditation, it’s quiet beautiful to see everyone moving deeper.
For our morning yoga session, as usual we began with seated meditation in silence. As we began our movement we focused on the balance we need in life; the balance we see all around us as nature, light and dark, day and night, up and down.
We practiced some partner poses culminating in Ardhachandrasana or half moon pose which requires a balance of strength and softness or of hugging muscles to the bone and opening up.
After breakfast and showers we headed out to New Quay which is about 10 miles from the yoga centre and went for a refreshing walk along the Flaggy shore and along the sea. As part of the walk, Dave took us to the ‘secret forest’ which is a really magical spot.
Many of the places Dave takes us to are off the beaten track, and this time spent in Nature is a wonderful balance to the time spent during the yoga sessions indoors at the centre. After our walk we went to Linnane’s lobster bar which has all sorts of fish and shell fish on the menu, and a choice between vegetarian dishes, vegetable soup and excellent home-made brown bread. ……the potted crab is something else.
Our afternoon yoga practice was a restorative session, very gentle and opening by it’s nature. Lots of resting poses, which restore and rejuvenate.
Feeling very present after the yoga session, we had another delicious dinner and enjoyed each other’s company as we were living within the present moment already losing track of which day it was.
And then our usual meditation session in the evening…. the practice was beginning to settle in…. and the ‘twice a day’ practice began to become ‘normal’ even for those who had not meditated before.
Our meditation this morning was a walking one.
We went outside the Burren Yoga and Meditation Centre into the Burren in silence to be in the morning, to feel the breath move through our bodies and simply observe the morning all around us.
There is both a masculine and feminine aspect to our nature. The masculine aspect is often seen as steady and present and the feminine as flowing and expressive.
These were our themes today as we moved consciously through our yoga practice.
After another great breakfast we headed once more to a different location in the Burren, to enjoy another day in it’s beauty. Today we went to a beautiful stretch of beach past Ballyvaughan, where we talked with a horse and walked and swam.
Then we headed off to the now famous Tea Rooms in Ballvaughan where apparently Stephen Spielberg fly in to just to eat in this special place. Dave knows the owners of the Tea Rooms, and they gave us a couple of their best tables within this idealic environment…surrounded by flowers on all sides, a lovely flow garden outside… and a table laden with amazing cakes to tempt us after our delicious lunch.
You’ll have to just go there, that’s all I say.
The Burren is a real haven for the arts. Again when we arrived back to the centre, we were met with more tempting smells as our dinner was being prepared by Paddi the chef who used to run Seventh Heaven restaurant for over 12 years in Galway city…. before Dave enticed her to work full time at the Burren Yoga and Meditation Centre.
After our last dinner together we finished the day with a yoga nidra practice. A lovely way to relax and quieten to mind after another amazing day filled with many beautiful events which will pop up in our memories over the months to come.
Our last morning began in silence, we sat for 20 minutes this morning, again simply watching our breath, the practice of Being.
Lila is the play of life, the dance we all take part it. We use it to grow, to see ourselves more clearly and the process we are participating in. The ground of being is one of joyfulness.
Although life at times is painful and challenging as we peel away the layers we begin to reveal the truth of who we truly are and that is that we are worthy, full, free and beautiful.
Today we celebrated Life through our yoga practice.
One more breakfast together and it was time to say goodbye.
There were good friendships made during this week, and I am sure many will last for years to come.
It was a journey for all of us. I feel so privileged to get to share this time with everyone.
I feel it is a time of healing and renewal, a time to move deeper within ourselves and radiate more brightly than ever before. “