Burren Yoga & Meditation Centre

»Warm, rich yoga in a cool, austere landscape «

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Burren is an Irish word that means ‘rocky place’ and there’s absolutely no irony in this area’s name. The landscape may be sparse, and the wind may run for miles, uninhibited, tumbling in over the horizon from the Atlantic, but this is no bleak and barren backwater. It is a place of clear, clean air and open spaces that feel uplifting rather than lonely. The Burren Yoga and Meditation Centre is a natural part of this unique region - weaving together external and internal tranquility to produce a gentle feeling of homecoming in this unique pocket of Ireland.

  • What we love
  • The cheerful and enthusiastic way yoga is included in every part of daily life
  • The daily excursions to explore the area
  • Center-owner Dave's passion and knowledge
  • Wholesome and hearty vegetarian meals with vegan and other dietary options by request
  • What to know
  • Irish weather can be damp – bring rain gear
  • Guest numbers limited to 15 at a time - book early to get a spot
  • Most rooms are shared, and so are the bathrooms
  • There are three single rooms and two doubles
  • Why go
  • The hand-picked team of yoga and meditation teachers
  • Wide variety of yoga styles
  • Teacher Training Courses offered
  • Most retreats suitable for complete beginners

The words 'Irish' and 'laconic charm' are teamed all too often. There's no escaping it though, Dave Brocklebank's gentle dedication to yoga and the guests at his yoga retreat shine through in every interaction. This is no patina turned on and off at will. This is a sincere and deep commitment to sharing the principles of yoga with all interested minds who cross his path.

Burren Yoga was opened in 1999 – and anyone interested in numerology will note the significance of that year for powerful new beginnings. Since then, Dave and his team have simply done what they do best: provide great yoga in an environment designed for relaxation and fun. Yes, you read that right – fun. Despite the yoga-newbie misconception that a yoga retreat is full of fringe-dwellers performing strange full-moon rituals, the guests of Burren Yoga are, like most retreats, just like you and me. Although most of them arrive alone – yoga vacationing is one niche that attracts a high proportion of solo travelers – they are quickly surrounded by new friends in a light-hearted and social environment. There's not much airy-fairy philosophy going on either. Karma Yoga is described in plain language – roll up your sleeves and help clean the kitchen, because it's good for you to contribute and it's good for other people to be able to find a clean cup for their tea. See what we mean about that laconic charm? No pretense here.
Pretense of any kind isn't needed, especially when it comes to the yoga classes themselves. These are simply world-class sessions, taught by Dave himself or one of the team of Burren yoga teachers who regularly return to this beautifully designed home-away-from-home. The range of styles is among the widest of all our retreats – from Ashtanga to Vinyasa to the hugely valuable but not widely-practiced Iyengar style which uses props to help a student achieve a certain pose without sacrificing core alignment.

The more spiritual aspects of yoga are explored with retreats that use styles like Satyananda. Like most yoga, Satyananda is based on the Hatha style, but strongly incorporates Yoga Nidra (breathing exercises and meditation) to condition the spirit and mind as well as the body. Other retreats are more physical, like the Bikram yoga retreat which uses the hot-room sweatiness of the style to get the blood pumping.

All retreats – except perhaps Bikram which needs to be vetted more carefully for those with blood pressure issues – are adaptable to any skill level. This is partly due to the skill of the teachers and partly due to the deliberately low student numbers. No more than 15 guests are able to book for any one retreat, ensuring that individual attention is maintained at a high level.
Retreats are offered almost all year round, except for a two-week mid-year break and a month-long end of year break before the New Year Retreat begins. All retreats are either run over a weekend or a full week, apart from the Yoga Teacher Training Course (the 200-hour Yoga Alliance Certified course) which is held in two blocks of two weeks, with the blocks being two months apart. The pricing of all the retreats is fairly moderate, especially since the fees have been rolled back to 2007 prices – a nod to the continuing economic recession. There is a lower price for the unwaged (unemployed).

Accommodation is primarily in single-sex dorm rooms that accommodate 4 – 6 people each. Beds are bunk-style although fitted out with the kind of soft, fluffy duvets and pillows that make early nights appealing. Private rooms are for two people and have a twin-bed set-up. These are available on request and are mostly provided for couples who have arrived together. If only one person in a couple is taking part in a yoga retreat, there is a lower price for the non-participating person which covers just their accommodation and meals. This flexibility allows for one person to sleep late, read books, ramble over the surrounding area and eat with their partner and the other guests without participating in the yoga sessions.

Daily excursions are a social affair. Warmly dressed guests head to the beach, to the local shops, or to the gorgeous windswept open spaces that surround Burren Yoga. This is a practical example of how yoga cannot be fully realized in isolation. It must be applied in everyday life – interacting with each other, being aware of one's environment, simply living. And living is the driving force behind Burren Yoga. In a humble and sweet way, this is a place that reminds us of the child-like way that life should be greeted. With a big old grin.

About the area: County Galway

County Galway has a lot to offer, as long as there is warm clothing and a rain coat involved. Dotting the coast are seaside towns that look as if they were built from a postcard designers wish-list. The hinterland is a treasure trove of lanes, green hills and the Burren, all guaranteed to warm an avid walker's heart both literally and metaphorically. The Burren is technically in County Clare, although its reach spans beyond Clare's borders. This is a sea of stony ground, called a karst-landscape and is one of the largest of its kind in Europe. Very popular with walkers, it has its own wild charm and is one of the dwindling number of places in Europe where a person can feel truly alone. The climate of Galway and surrounds is mostly chilly – and sometimes damp, depending on the movement of the sea breezes. July - August summer highs don't stretch much above 19 degrees C (66F) and in the December winters there's not much chance of the mercury rising higher than 8C (47F).

Image credit: Burren Yoga

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