Don’t leave it until January. Now is an ideal time to take up YOGA and make the most of LONG SUMMER DAYS on a healthy eating WEEKEND RETREAT …
Stepping away from the world can be a good idea every now and then. Add in some yoga, rest, vegan food and sea air and a break can be really restorative and energising. If you’re especially stressed, or in a rut of unhealthy food and late nights, stepping off for a few days to focus on your health can be a good kickstart for the rest of the year, or even just a welcome break from digital distractions. Maria Donlon, who has trained in nutrition and yoga, runs LifeCleanse on South William Street, with workshops and day retreats as well as longer detox and yoga retreat weekends in the lush green surroundings of Co Wicklow, at the Bobbio Centre, in handy reach of Dublin.
The retreats offer small groups and few distractions, so you can entirely switch off. It’s a ten-minute walk to a deserted white sand beach, Magheramore, and Brittas Bay is nearby. Food is all vegan and Pukka teas are on tap. On Friday evening, a bowl of quinoa and a hazelnut brownie is followed by a beach walk and a relaxing meditation session. Expect to sleep soundly: it’s incredibly quiet here, with just the sound of birds. Saturday begins with a freshly juiced wheatgrass shot – excellent for balancing blood sugar levels and with a full range of vitamins, minerals and lots of amino acids, Maria tells us – before two hours of concentrated breathing exercises, relaxing and yoga. Brunch is chia pudding with coconut yoghurt and blueberries, followed by avocado on rye bread, topped with sprouted seeds. Later there’s a demonstration on making protein balls, using dates, pumpkin seeds and protein powder – a useful Mars Bars replacement for energy on the go – plus non-dairy ice cream made from almond milk, dates and frozen bananas, which is surprisingly tasty, especially with crispy coconut flakes on top for texture. Maria gives plenty of advice and information about vegan food, juicing and sprouting throughout the weekend, and we get recipes to take home. Another relaxing yoga class is followed by a bowl of Asian-style vegetable noodles with a tasty almond-based dressing (all recipes are on the website).
We all drink gallons of water and Pukka teas throughout the weekend, and some of us have major caffeine-withdrawal headaches; it’s incredible what an impact even a day off tea and coffee has. I’d also forgotten how good yoga makes you feel – if you haven’t done any downward dog for a long time, this is a good way to get back into it.
After our Sunday wheatgrass (above), green juice and yoga session and some buckwheat pancakes, we’re done, and can speed home, picking up a giant coffee on the way. You may feel disinclined to, however; while some fellow retreatees planned a juicy steak for tea and could hardly mention coffee without looking tearful, others planned to continue the restraint for a little longer. While eating this little is not sustainable during a normal week, and I felt and looked tired at the end of the weekend, your body will feel rested, stretched and lighter, and your stomach a bit flatter. If you’re intrigued by the idea of a vegan diet, want to get back into yoga after a break or learn lots about juicing for health benefits, this is a good place to start.
LifeCleanse are running a one day detox in Dublin next Saturday 27 May, 10.30am-5.30pm, €99, and again in July. A yoga retreat takes place in Kinsale in July, and a detox Wicklow retreat takes place in October; www.lifecleanse.ie.
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