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When I think about Ireland, this is the way I like to think of her. Sun shining, golden rays of light glistening down onto the surface. Winter sunlight is definitely some of the best. We may not see it that often but when we do.. It’s like heaven on earth. These shots are from dog walkies with Paula, Penny & Juno out in Connemara in January. We walked out at wind farm in Spideal after taking many wrong turns!! I love the wind turbines, so statuesque and so colossal in size, yet when you are right up beside them, they seem to blend into the landscape quite comfortably. Cold but golden sun beamed down on us for the afternoon. Bliss.

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OS-4289“Yoga means to unite. When practicing Yoga we unite our bodies, our breath and our mind. This is a very important practice as we all too often live in the past or the future. To practice Yoga, is to come into the present moment and that is where life is happening.”

In this post, Im sharing some photos from a shoot I did back in November, hard to believe with that gorgeous sunshine!? It was a beautiful, crisp Autumn’s day, the last one of the year. I met Sinead of LoveYoga Galway at one of our joint favourite spot (Barna woods), early in the day. We wandered about, chatting and laughing finding nice spots to stop and snap.  At this time, I’d been practicing Yoga with Sinead for about four months. Since arriving home from Thailand in September, I knew I wanted to continue on with my practice and work on my body and mind.

OS-4161Sinead teaches Hatha Yoga which very slow and relaxed, exactly what I needed. Hatha Yoga is a traditional Yoga practice from India dating back thousands of years. Using our breath along with the poses helps to nourish our bodies, we build a better relationship with our bodies, giving it attention, giving our bodies love & acceptance – this is the core ethos of Hatha Yoga. Having personally tried some other types of Yoga I found Hatha is definitely my preference at the moment in regards my spine. So I started to practice with Sinead twice a week at the Sat Nam Centre in Galway City.

When I started last year with Sinead, the evenings were getting shorter and darker. This meant that inevitably, there were evenings where I didn’t feel boundless amounts of energy and joy at the thought of going to Yoga and sometimes the couch seemed a lot more enticing but seeing Hatha is so slow and relaxing that these evenings were made so much easier!

I found Yoga easy when I started. I started my training with Maev Craven (she’s also amazing) who was doing private classes with me last year due to a severe spinal injury I have. I took it really easy and at my own pace. With Hatha being so slow, meditative and based on breathing – staring is a lovely process. After not long at all, I started doing two classes a week with Sinead and could visibly see and feel the newly gained strength and flexibility in my body. The pain I was feeling in my back was lessening and the constant stretching of the spine was really working for me.

003OS-4363 OS-4361I went to my first Yoga class about ten years ago and class by class I got hooked! I was suffering from severe anxiety at the time that I started. I loved the high intensity in the class but when it came to relaxation, my mind was racing and I wanted to leave. It just showed me how much I needed it [Yoga].”  Sinead tells me. “My body and mind were completely disconnected. I see how it happens so easily to people. We can live so much in our heads, living in the past and the future and becoming totally out of sync with ourselves. This will only end is some sort of dis-ease in the body.” 

Sinéad Mc Kiernan of LoveYoga Galway studied Hatha Yoga in India. “It was an intense course, waking up at 4am for meditation and finally finishing with anatomy class at 9pm. The days were filled with Yoga practice, Pranayama ( breathing) classes, Yoga philosophy, Meditation, Anatomy, Ayurveda Medicine and teaching practice.” Sinead said. She knew from the start that it was for her as she loved navigating the courses, working with the teachers and loved to learn more and more.

LoveYoga Galway has been very successful so far and is proving a big hit with Galway Yogi’s. As the classes and workshops fill up, Sinead has been connecting with all walks of life and all ages. With a great online presence, Sinead’s classes are filling up quick! “The ratio of women is higher but there are some great lads coming to my classes and I encourage more to come!” she said. “Yoga is great for everyone. People have their pre-conceptions of what it is. Every class is different but you should feel great benefits even after one class. It`s meditation, exercise, relaxation and therapy combined.”

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Where does Sinead see LoveYoga Galway going in the future? “I would like Yoga to be accessible to everyone, everywhere.” she said. “I feel everyone should try a class at least once! There are no expectations, no pre-requisites. Breathing mindfully is Yoga as is doing a headstand. I encourage people to do what suits them, challenge themselves but to go at their own pace.” Already this year Sinead has a jam packed calendar of events, classes and workshops! She is working on online tutorials, is on social media and is doing Youga tutorials on Youtube too! She loves to help people realise their potential and use the tools they already possess to relax and have fun. Find Sinead at LoveYoga Galway here and book a taster class, Im sure you will enjoy it!

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“I watched the surrounding landscape with great curiosity, and I wanted to discover the words that could describe all its unspoiled beauty.’~Daniel J. Rice

On a summer’s day, we delight in something we don’t see or feel that often; soft sunshine and warm heat. But in winter months under the winter moon, the grey colour pallet and heavy, soaked air are something more familiar to the heart. The cold is in the bones, the fresh rain  lands on the skin. Being here feels more affirmed. More real.

There is this weird magnetic pull, down deep in my heart to the Irish wilderness.  Out here I feel free.  I feel possibilities. I feel the rain on my skin and cold, fresh air in my lungs as they expand and press my ribcage. I hear nothing and everything. Silence and the far off sound of wind turbines in the distance. It’s all raw here. Raw and beautiful.

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Photos shot at Polleeny Bogland, Furbogh, Connemara, Galway.

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Well it made for an interesting morning, first day in years that we had a pretty miserable weather situation! From the moment I woke on the morning of the 25th, I could feel the cold; but when theres work to be done, no one can stay in bed. So, off I headed to Blackrock for the annual Galway Christmas Day Swim with COPE Galway.

If there is one thing that the morning of relentless rain taught me was that, rain or shine  – Galway people cannot/will not break their traditions. Im sure every single person at the diving board that morning thought to themselves “Maybe I just won’t go this morning..”  when faced with the cold rain and wind. But, they did it. Hundreds of mums, dads, kids, grandparents and pets turned up in their droves to dip in the icy ocean and all for a great cause!!

COPE Galway are a local charity who work with the homeless, elderly and women and children who are effected by domestic violence in the Galway area. For 26 years the people of Galway have supported the work of COPE Galway by signing up to take in the Christmas Day Swim and raise funds to help vulnerable and isolated men, women and families in Galway. The aim of this event is to raise money to help fund Galway’s local services in homelessness, domestic violence and for older people.

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In 2014 COPE Galway worked with 134 families, 511 single people and 7 couples affected by homelessness in Galway. In 2104 COPE Galway worked with 371 women and 229 children experiencing domestic violence in Galway. In 2014 COPE Galway produced and delivered 50,000 meals on wheels for 326 people in Galway. To help COPE, you can still help out and donate by texting SWIM to 50300 to donate €4. Check out the last few events here.

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Autumn is my favourite time of year. I love that in-between bit where I can wear layers for fashion’s sake and not necessity. I love walking through the city on dry days with the Autumn sun beating down on my face, headphones on and a coffee in hand. I love the Galway Saturday Market on an Autumn morning as the produce offered starts to change and there is a fantastic bustling energy there.

I love walks by the sea, air cold enough to catch your breath but not make you sick. The sunshine keeping you the right temperature but the cool breeze keeping your fast pace. I love to walk in the woods and witness their annual colour change and life cycle.

There are lots of amazing things you can do in Galway this Autumn, check out my ideas below:

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  • Walk the prom in the evenings or mornings. A walk by the sea at any time of day is wonderful for the body, mind and soul. But walking there in the early morning, Autumn sunshine goes new meaning to the idea of heaven. Long evenings there are also beautiful as the sky is painted a million colours as the sun sets. Theres nothing like the sun going down over Galway Bay.

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  • Little Cinema. The Little Cinema is a monthly short film showcase, that supports film-making at grass root levels in the West of Ireland and beyond. Funders Kenny, Julia & Liam have grown this project into a Galway staple over the last few years which is now a key player in the Cities arts scene. Over the 4 years it has screened over 400 films from over 170 film-makers and has provided an invaluable platform for film-makers and film-lovers to meet, network, showcase their work and simply enjoy films. A fun night for all lovers of film.

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  • Galway Market on a Saturday morning. There is nothing like it. Grab a coffee from McCambridges or Espresso 44 and head down to the market. Stop and smell the flowers literally, try on some hand knitted gloves and beautiful silver jewellery. Stock up on fresh fruit and veg, peruse some artists work and then warm up with some hot Vegan curry from Govinda’s. Heaven!

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  • Walk out in Barna Woods, Coole & Rinville Parks. This time of year is the time to get outside and bask in nature. Get out while you still can (before the bitter Winter weather arrives). Rinville park is a large public park located by the sea. The facilities include a, playground, picnic and barbecue areas. The network of walks through the woodland and open farmland, along with the scenic view of Galway Bay make it a very popular amenity area. Set in the grounds of an old stately house, many of the original structures are still in place. Coole Park was once the home of Lady Augusta Gregory, dramatist, folklorist and co-founder of the Abbey Theatre. There here are two trails to follow at Coole, an easy 1.75 km walk, and a longer 4.5 km Trail too! Grab some friends, some dogs and go out walking! Barna Woods ia a smaller woods on the Barna Road between Knocknacarra and Barna, its a pleasant place to still, walk the dog and bring kids! Lots of space for running around! Don’t forget a picnic!

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  • Visit Madra and make some new friends. Madra (Mutts Annoymus Dog Rescue Adoption) is a rescue in Camus, Connemara. MADRA’s ultimate and overall aim is rehome all their starts to permanent, loving homes. They do wonderful work in rescuing and rehoming unwanted dogs in the city, county and beyond. Their animal shelter and HQ is based in the gorgeous Connemara countryside and there is always residents there who need to be walked, played with, washed/groomed and of course fostered and  adopted! Why not volunteer for a day or two?
  • Join a gym. Autumn is a brilliant time to join a gym, the evenings are short and getting outside in the evenings is sometimes a chore. Joining a gym and going to classes or swimming a few times a week is a wonderful way to keep active, meet people and get out in the evenings. Check out NRG gyms and Inspire Fitness here in Galway, they are brilliant.

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  • Take for a photo walk! This isn’t just for photographers, anyone can do it. Autumn days are some of the most stunning we have. Get that camera out of storage, get a disposable in the Euro Store or even just use your phone. Walk around the city or go out to the country and photograph to your hearts content! Galway is a photographer playground to be honest, the streets and buildings in the city centre have such character and stories to tell. With the river running right through the city with bridge, islands and canals, the photo opportunities are endless! Capture some memories!

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  • Start a class, workshop or online training. Autumn is when all the workshops and night course start up again around the city. The evenings are darker and the temptation is there to stay in a watch movies and tv a lot more but its the perfect time of year to start a Yoga class, learn how to cook or learn a new language. What about starting your own blog? Check out www.itwbn.ie for more on that! Go on, turn off Netflix and start some learning!

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  • Call up an old friend and go for coffee. Late evening trips to the coziness of Java’s cafe or the Secret Garden Cafe are a must for cold, dark Autumn evenings. Get in touch with an old friend (or someone new!) and grab an evening coffee (or read!). Evenings at home, alone are not good for your mental health. Get out and get chatting, the problems of the world need to be solved goddammit!

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  • Enjoy the Festivals! The Latin Quarter Halloween Festival, the Macnas Parade, the Comedy Festival, the Christmas Market, the Oyster Festival and so on. . We are the city of festivals and just because the weather is a little cooler doesn’t mean you have to miss the fun! Wrap up, get out and enjoy some of the great festivals in Galway this Autumn time.

So theres my list of some stuff to get yourself up to this Autumn. Don’t let the change in weather get you down. Call up some friends, make a plan and get out and about. Enjoy the city the way she wants you too!

Have you anything to add? What do you like to do when Autumn roles around? Let me know in the comments or tweet me!

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“Outside the open window
The morning air is all awash with angels.”
― Richard Wilbur

Some shots I took the first week in January. Morning time on the promenade in Salthill. Such a beautiful place. Note the people walking on shore in huge jackets to keep out the cold winter chill and the lady wading in the sun kissed water peacefully as if she doesn’t feel it. Time seemed to slow down a little here. This is my place.

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