29 January 2016

Evoke.ie Review

It was a pleasure to have the lovely Yolanda of Evoke.ie join us for the recent Detox & Yoga Weekend Retreat in Brittas Bay. Read all about how she got on below. The next weekend retreat takes place May 6th – 8th and you can book your place now!

Bye, bye bloat! The 3-day Irish detox retreat that actually works

Studies show that by week three of January, most of us have given up on our New Year’s resolutions/diets/promises and eased back into our naughty old ways.

After all, doesn’t it seem like the elements are all against you in January? There’s no festivities to look forward to, the weather is horrid and going back to work after Christmas break is utterly miserable.

The fact is, making a change in your lifestyle is rarely easy no matter what time of year it is. That’s why sometimes we all need a bit of time to ourselves to to regroup, reorganise and properly commit to our health goals. That’s exactly what LifeCleanse’s weekend detox retreat is all about.

Dublin-based Maria Donlon runs the Wicklow retreat. Pic: Supplied

LifeCleanse, run by Dublin-based nutritional consultant Maria Donlon, specialises in wellness. Maria combines her training in nutrition and her love of yoga (she is a certified instructor) to run tailored detox workshops and retreats in food philosophy and cleansing, great for anyone who wants to kick-start a new health regime.

Keen to try out my first ever detox, I booked myself in for one of Maria’s weekend retreats in Brittas Bay, Wicklow. I was joined by five other women, all aged 25-40 years. Two of them were mothers, who had left their children at home for a weekend to focus on the themselves for once. Both admitted they had never spent a weekend apart from their families but thought this was important for their long-term health.

The retreat, which ran from Friday to Sunday, included a strict detox diet, yoga and beach walks. The premise is this: cleanse and reboot the body, mind, everything!

Wheatgrass shots to start the day. Pic: Supplied
Beach yoga. Pic: Supplied

Start green, very green…

Each morning began with a shot of wheatgrass and a glass of fennel water to begin the detox process, followed by specifically designed yoga sessions aimed at aiding lymphatic drainage which also removes toxins from the blood and organs.

Throughout the day, you were encouraged to drink plenty of fluid including water with slices of lime (to boost the alkaline elements in the blood and balance out pH), herbal teas, green juices and coconut water.

The diet over the weekend was vegan with no fruit, as it is high in sugar. Lunch was a organic superfood salad with vegetables and protein in the form of quinoa. Dinner was a vegetable soup. Most of our food was green vegetables very simply prepared and we were able to have as much as we wanted. The point of detox is not to starve yourself, Maria explained, but rather to give the digestive system a break

All the food we consumed over the weekend was all very ‘easy’ on the digestive system and quick to break down. We therefore avoided meat, processed foods, diary and even nuts.

Quinoa salad for lunch. Pic: Supplied
Fenugreek water to help cleanse. Pic: Supplied

Between our meals we learnt juicing techniques and got a bit of sea air through our beach walks. Before bed, we had relaxation yoga to ensure the body got adequate rest, an essential part of detoxing.

Tongue scraping and more…

Maria also introduced as to a series of cleansing rituals that we did each morning that we could potentially incorporate into our daily routine. They are sounded rather bizarre at first, but were oddly addictive once you got into the hang of it. From tongue scraping to salt water nasal cleansing and dry brushing–we tried it all!

Bloat be gone!

Throughout the weekend, I could feel my body adjusting to this radical diversion from my normal routine and diet. On day two I felt rather sluggish and low on energy. Surprisingly, I wasn’t hungry but I was constantly thinking of food. My dreams were strangely vivid and outlandish–which Maria explained was a natural reaction to detox.

I went to bed on day two rather grumpy and skeptical but woke up on day three a different person. I felt refreshed. I slept soundly and morning yoga left me feeling really energised for the day.

Perhaps most notably, the lingering bloated feeling I had since Christmas was gone and my stomach felt flat for the first time since mid November (Christmas party season!). A quick check in the mirror also revealed my skin looked really hydrated and supple.

Sprouts are an important part of a detox diet. Pic: Supplied

Post detox routine

Our three day detox ended with a discussion on how to slowly reintroduce foods back into the our diet and how to incorporate some of our healthy learnings into everyday life.

Maria explained our digestive system after the detox was like a sponge that had been squeezed out. The foods and nutrients we decide to eat in the following days would therefore soak in deeper and more easily, hence the importance of eating as healthily as possible for at least 3-5 days after.

Detox water with limes with helps restore the body’s pH balance. Pic: Supplied


The LifeCleanse retreat, for me, was a educational experience and a great way to kick-start my wellness plans for the new year. It allowed me to escape the daily grind of life for a weekend and focus on what my body needed.

I haven’t incorporated all the things from the retreat into my daily life (I still retch at the thought of wheat grass shots) but I have decided to eat cleaner when I can, opt for organic when I can afford it, and now view at yoga as a holistic therapy, not just for fitness.

The next LifeCleanse weekend retreat is on May 6th – 8th. Maria also runs one-day Urban Retreats at her base on South William Street scheduled for January 30th and Feb 13th and 27th. 

Read the full article here.