Sonia Kelly founded the Cloona Health Centre in 1969. Here, she opens the doors on this quiet retreat, an oasis of tranquility in a beautiful sylvan setting just outside Westport.
The Cloona Health Centre, Westport, was established three decades ago. Then, as now, its strong point is simplicity.
It came about through my wondering what makes people healthy, and then from experiencing the lifestyle of some Tibetan visitors, who introduced me to yoga. The eventual conclusion I came to was that health resulted from eating, exercising, breathing and thinking correctly.
Some study was required, of course, as yoga, which formed an integral part of the system, was as mysterious to me as it was to everyone else in Ireland at that time. So various experts were prevailed upon to stay in the newly converted mill on our land until I had absorbed their techniques and felt ready to go.
No elaborate equipment was needed, as health (and beauty) were deemed to come from the inside out. A menu was devised, which proved remarkably successful in de-toxing the system and also for weight loss. It consisted – and still consists – of citrus fruit for breakfast, soup and salad for lunch and a selection of sweet fruit for supper.
No one of any age was, or ever is, fazed by the yoga exercises, which are designed to stretch ad relax all parts of the body, starting very gently and gradually developing as far as appropriate during the course of a normal stay of one week. The exercises include learning to breathe correctly by filing the whole of one’s lungs. (I found the worth of this on a trip to a high mountain region when my fellow travelers were stricken with altitude sickness and I felt no effects.)
This is for the mornings. Afternoons are for walking. It is fortunate that Cloona is in a beautiful location in the hills above Clew Bay, where there are numerous side roads that provide a different route each day. After this, the participants relax and imbibe a portion of their daily liquid quota.
Evenings are spent in the sauna and having a subsequent massage. It was during the intimacy of the latter sessions that people felt free to air their problems and to receive my advice regarding the direction of their thoughts. Many troubles vanished over the course of their stay.
Today the simplicity of Cloona has a new appeal. For some, it has never lost original motivation, as they return from year to year.
Nowadays, my son, Dhara, continues with the promotion of health and some additions have been made. They include reflexology, seike/shiatsu – a treatment involving pressure points, loghoo – a bowel flush, a liver flush and a face-cleansing.
There are also chanting sessions, which are conducted by Anne Tyrrell. These last for two hours and are open to non-residents as well. Chanting also emphasises the importance of correct breathing. Plus it is great fun.
Another new development is the holding of specially programmed weeks, both for over 55s and for men only, and there is an advanced course available for those deemed more fit than average.
To find out more visit the Cloona website, www.cloona.ie, or call 098 25251.