Retreat To Advance

feel good factoryAfter weeks of planning, changing plans, meetings at Molly’s and a trillion Wats App messages Naomi, Jill and I managed to transport our group safely to the beautiful Kippure Estate in Wicklow. Some of us took their group the ‘scenic’ route (Naomi) and had a close encounter with a deadly sheep, while the rest of us unpacked my car which was bursting with delicious meals compliments of Roisin Hogan and Natures Best. Lunch safely packed into the fridge, snacks from Good4U and The Good Snack Company, distributed evenly, water bottles hooked to bags, we were ready to embark on the first activity of the day, our 3 hour hike to the top of Seefin mountain.

Our group included people of mixed abilities, and those who were new to hiking or recovering from injury and surgery were most concerned about the steepness of the climb or that they would be holding the rest of the group up. Before we set of I explained that hiking is not about racing quickly to the top but rather about taking an easy, comfortable pace, enjoying the scenery, enjoying each other’s company and simply being in the moment out in nature. We set of as 14 strangers but by the end of the hike everyone had made connections. The lovely thing about hiking with a group is each time you set of chatting with one person; once we stop and regroup you’ll find you are now next to someone new, that way everyone in the group gets to know everyone in the group.Seefin mountain

The hike to Seefin begins with a ditch crossing, a trek across open field, a short forest walk, then the actual mountain trek which took us through purple heather, tall, fragrant fern and finally beautiful Wicklow granite rock leading to the spectacular summit.The stand out feature on Seefin is the passage grave at the top of the mountain, rumoured to be older than Newgrange. While it is not as big or ornate as Newgrange the beauty for me is as a less known passage grave we didn’t have to share our experience with anyone else. Some of us squeezed through the narrow opening and made our way along the passage into the three chambers. The roof has caved in which meant we could exit via the open roof. We spent a little time admiring the breath-taking scenery, posing for photos including a group ‘summit selfie’ and refuelling on nuts and berries. Our hike back down the mountain was filled with chatter and laughter as the group of strangers where fast becoming friends.

Now we were ready for our well-deserved, fresh and healthy lunch compliments of Natures Best and Roisin Hogan. The Caesar salads were delicious and very filling. Sitting comfortably in the bright, spacious living room, in our Kippure Estate house, tea and coffee in hand, everyone sat back while I gave a talk on nutrition and healthy lifestyle. I say ‘I gave a talk’ but really everyone in the group had input, from recipes, snack suggestions and healthy packed lunches to ideas on how to exercise more often. Jill volunteered to take notes and all the suggestions were emailed the group at a later stage.

Feel Good FactoryOnce lunch had settled it was time for ‘Power Sweat’ with Naomi. The sun was still shining so we took the class outdoors. Not everyone took part in ‘Power Sweat’, all activities on our weekend retreat are optional. Naomi has that unique ability to shout without shouting at you, to push without pushing you over. She creates a feeling of comradeship among her members, everyone wants to do well, and everyone wants everyone else to do well too. We sprinted, squatted, jumped, lifted and fought off the attack of the mid-day midgets.

A short break to rehydrate and then it was time for Yogasámh with Jill. Jill had transformed the living room with incense, tea light candles and fairy lights. The setting was serene and a welcome change in tempo. Jill has the most hypnotic and captivating voice and she gently lead us into a focus on our breathing. We stretched, held poses, moved gently, even sweated a little and we relaxed. Every fitness level can take part in Jill’s class, even if you feel your fitness level is 0. Jill gives us the opportunity to modify each pose to a level that we are comfortable with. She emphasizes the importance of listening to our body and that each practive may bring different feelings to the body. Just like in life, there are always options and modifications in Jill’s Yoga practice.

An hour to rest and dress for dinner and we all meet in the restaurant. To the delight of many of our group the bar was open so we could enjoy a drink with dinner. Three courses of healthy delights, actually two courses of healthy delights and an well-earned, indulgent, chocolate dessert.

I slipped back to my house to prepare for our evening work shop The Feel Good Factory; Happiness. I cannot go into detail about this part of the evening, for many reasons, the most important being the privacy of the group during this workshop. I can however tell you that everyone left feeling inspired, motivated and with a new view of what How To Live A Happier Life.

A good night’s sleep was had by all and we began our day with ‘Wake Up Yoga’. Afterwards we all enjoyed a hearty breakfast, and most of the group set of for a 5k trail around the grounds of the beautiful Kippure Estate. One lady from the group and I took a leisurely, short stroll around the estate. ‘Modify’ is the key word for Jill’s yoga practice, and also for our Retreat To Advance Weekend. Our retreats are for all to enjoy, all ages and all levels of fitness. If an activity is beyond your level at the moment, we will modify it for you to enjoy.

We finished the weekend with a Reflection and a promise to give the groupmorning hike first refusal for future retreats. My own reflection of weekend “I can plan for the activities, I can plan for the workshops, I can plan the food, the venue, I can even plan for Plan B if the weather is not on our side. What I cannot plan, and what made the weekend so special were the connections between the group and us”. to receive information on our next Retreat To Advance.