14 July 2009

A Weekend Trip – A World Away!


Just back from a Yoga and Adventure break with Outdoors Ireland feeling relaxed, rejuvenated, alive, and planning my return...!

From greeting us at the train station, encouraging us to explore our adventure and postural limits, pointing out the local wildlife (and edible flowers!), and joining in our celebratory drink at the end of the weekend - the personal service, awareness of nature, sense of adventure and close attention to detail that Outdoors Ireland brings assures you that you are in the hands of a professional group of people who are infectiously passionate about what they do. And it catches...!

The weekend diary...
On arrival for my yoga and adventure weekend, I am greeted at Killarney train station by Daniel in the Outdoors Ireland van and meet the other participants for the weekend. Daniel has recently moved full-time to a village close to Killarney and his enthusiasm for the peace and natural beauty of the area helps to set the right tone for the weekend. The ‘busyness’ of Dublin is already beginning to fade...

We are driven through the green of Kerry’s lush countryside to our accommodation for the weekend – a lovely lodge with bright open rooms, powerful showers and a great skylight – which will help me to wake up naturally over the coming two mornings.

Outdoors Ireland founder, Nathan Kingerlee and the yoga instructor for the weekend, Bridget Moriarty greet us at the lodge with wine and tapas and bring us through the proposed weekend activities, taking care to check in on our preferences and ability levels. We opt to join Nathan for an early beach walk the next morning to start the weekend fresh before beginning our yoga programme. After a nice chat with the other guests, we all head to the comfort of our rooms.
In the morning, Nathan is bang on time (a theme for the weekend, not entirely aligned with my own timekeeping habits but a welcome one which ensures that the weekend runs like clockwork!). We enjoy a peaceful, calm walk along Rossbeigh beach, a nice gentle start to the day. On our return Bridget is ready for us in the yoga room. The Iyengar yoga programme for the weekend is superbly customised to our needs. Bridget listens to our litany of aches and pains and tailors the programme according to our experience and our perceived bodily abilities. The great advantage of being part of a smaller group for the weekend is the level of personal attention available. Bridget is always on hand to assist in perfecting alignment in a pose or to further explore what might be possible with our bodies.

After yoga, a scrumptious breakfast followed – we were later to harass the kitchen for the organic muesli recipe! This is definitely one of the highlights of the weekend! Once we are sufficiently fuelled up for the day, we set off for kayaking - the only part of the weekend I was nervous about before the trip. However, with gentle encouragement and reassurances, I decide to give it a go. My fear of capsizing subsides as the sheer joy of gliding through the water and taking in the beautiful sights of nature all around takes over.

After a delicious outdoors lunch, we begin a gentle hike around the river. We return back in time for some tea, cake and rest in the large comfy lounge sofas before the evening yoga class began. We are very glad to be stretching after the days activities and Bridget has tailored the class to enable us to increase our awareness of the areas we have used during the day, how they might be feeling and to stretch them out. A relaxation exercise at the end of the session does exactly what it says on the tin and sees most of us struggling to stay awake.

We rest for an hour before dinner in the renowned seafood restaurant in the village. We spend the evening sharing stories from the day and looking forward to the adventures that tomorrow will bring.

On Sunday morning Bridget again focuses us on waking up our bodies and awareness before beginning the days adventure activities. I am starting to appreciate the areas of my body that may need a little more care and flexibility work - this weekend is gentle and tailored enough to help the beginnings of this adventure in listening to my body. Of course, some of the group are already quite flexible (much to my admiration and not a little envy!) and they are encouraged to stretch further into the more challenging poses. A relaxation at the end of the session helps us to rest body, spirit and mind before beginning the day.

Collecting bikes in Killarney, we cycle to Ross Castle where we have time to enjoy a coffee, have a stroll around and admire the nine baby ducklings on the lake! A friendly local Kerryman (complete with accent – much to the delight of the Australian in the group!) sails us through the lakes of Kerry, providing us with lots of local history and amazing us with his weather-forecasting skills. Someone should let Met Eireann know that this man exists!

Having crossed the lakes we climb back onto our bikes and cycle to the Black Valley for another gorgeous organic picnic lunch laid out in the peaceful surroundings of mountains and greenery. I even manage to get in a spot of meditation in the peaceful air. After lunch, it’s off to the Gap of Dunloe. The cycle journey uphill proves to be a real test and is the first time that I break a serious sweat all weekend (not helped by the quantities of gorgeous food I couldn't help but consume beforehand!). Once we reach the top, we free-wheel the entire way to Kate Kearney’s Cottage – a journey of stunning calm and beauty.

At Kate’s we do the decent thing and toast our wonderful weekend. I am keen to have a sauna as one final detox before heading back on the train to Dublin and this request is accommodated without a problem. I am driven to the local Leisure centre while the others are dropped at Killarney town centre to relax and have a look around before taking the train back to Dublin.

I meet the group on the train on the way back and we all agree that it has been an amazing, fun-filled and relaxing weekend!

I would say that the high points for me were definitely the varied nature of the activities, the one-on-one personal attention that Outdoors Ireland brings, and the beautiful organic food. The setting is amazing and while the weather may sometimes be unpredictable in Ireland at this time of year, I can’t say that I noticed whether it was raining or sun-shining for most of our activities. As one tourism poster put it – ‘Kerry - What Weather’?! The best bit for me is the ability to do all of this over one weekend. I left the office in Dublin on Friday at four, had a full weekend of activity, fun and relaxation, and was still back in my bed in Dublin by eleven o’clock on Sunday night, ready for whatever the week had to throw at me – come on, I had just conquered kayaking and the Gap of Dunloe in one weekend – I could take whatever the week had in store! I returned feeling relaxed, rejuvenated and alive – exactly what I had wanted from the weekend.

Thank you Outdoors Ireland – I will be back with some recession-weary and adventure-hungry friends for whom I suspect, a weekend like this could be just the cure!

By Sandra Coughlan, Dublin

Click here for details of upcoming Yoga Adventure Breaks

No comments:

Post a comment