How can we stay well this winter?

Cork businesses have come together to run the ‘Winter Wellness Challenge’, writes JANE MCNAMARA with some of the proceeds going to Pieta House
How can we stay well this winter?

Kate Mc Namara.

A NEW wellness challenge from Bikram Yoga Cork and Pieta House launches this week.

The five-week event is calling on participants to attend online interactive yoga classes as well as a host of virtual talks by health experts.

We spoke to those involved about how the challenge can keep us healthy and accountable this winter.

Kate Mc Namara, Bikram Yoga Cork (BYC)

Kate is the owner of Bikram Yoga Cork. The studio opened nine years ago and specialises in hot yoga, pilates and non-heated yoga. Kate says business has been hit hard by the pandemic.

“We closed our doors for the first lockdown in March. When we finally reopened in October we had to shut again a few days later because of restrictions. It has been hard, but it’s been hard for a lot of people.”

Mc Namara came up with the idea for the wellness challenge after the second lockdown was announced.

“There is a lack of certainty at the moment which causes a lot of anxiety for people. I wanted to put something together that people can do for themselves, no matter what their situation is or what the restrictions are.

“BYC has been teaching yoga online for six months now and we know what works. We know people need routine and accountability.

“A holistic challenge seemed like the best next step. It isn’t just physical health people need support around, it’s mental health too.

“All the speakers on board are experts in what they do and people who I have learned a lot from over the years. The pandemic has shown us the potential for collaboration across disciplines.”

Kate added: “I have had a lot of support from local businesses including BYC neighbour RedFM.

“This challenge really feels like a group effort. Time will pass regardless, we need to take care of ourselves and each other.”

Visit until November 15 to book the Winter Wellness Challenge. 10% of all proceeds will go to Pieta Cork.

Child psychologist Catherine Hallissey
Child psychologist Catherine Hallissey

Catherine Hallissey, Child Psychologist and Parenting Coach

“We know the things that protect our mental health: connection, community and having a goal and being able to work towards it. Having support to work towards a goal is also hugely important, which is what is nice about the challenge. There is something about coming together with like- minded people that makes all the difference.

“I am really looking forward to speaking at the (Winter Wellness Challenge) event. I think a lot of us got by on adrenaline for lockdown number one. People are tired now so this is coming at a great time.”

See for more about Catherine’s work.

 Karen Ward
 Karen Ward

Karen Ward, Nutritional Therapist

“With everything going on, we can still control the food on our plate. For the Winter Wellness Challenge I will be looking at the importance of seasonal eating.

“There are amazing chemicals in food when we eat in-season and when we eat locally. These have an impact on the microbes in our gut and that can have a serious impact on our mood and our wellbeing.

“I will be sharing some gentle steps we can take to build internal resiliency as well as sharing great recipes.

“With the dark days and longer nights, we need more comfort, nourishment and positive nutrition. It’s about inclusion and less elimination. See

Joseph Devlin
Joseph Devlin

Joseph Devlin, Health Coach

“I coach people back towards balance in their health, helping them to live full lives.

“For my interactive talk, I will be looking at how you can easily and simply release the tension in the muscles around your neck and shoulders. People are spending a lot more time at their desk now. I am seeing a lot more tension in those areas as well as people reporting headaches.

“When the first lockdown was announced I bought two bottles of wine and two bars of chocolate. This lockdown I stocked up on camomile tea! I think that is the change we all need to make this time around. It’s going to be a particularly challenging time. We have to be on it and organise ourselves.

“One thing I do know about humans though is that we are good at adapting and this is a chance for us to adapt and evolve.”

Sile Walsh.
Sile Walsh.

Sile Walsh, Psychology Coach

“I work with people in their personal and professional lives around increasing their authenticity, well-being and effectiveness. My discussion for the Wellness Winter Challenge is going to be on nurturing connections during challenging times.

“Since the pandemic, all of my work is online. I spend the day talking to people through a screen. What I have observed through my work is that outcomes from the sessions are the same, but how I build the connection to achieve the outcome is different. In person we sense one another and we make unconscious decisions. Online we just have the top up so we have to be more explicit. This kind of communication requires us to do more speaking and naming of emotions.”

For more on Sile’s work see

Darran Coyle Garde, Pieta Cork

Darran spoke about the importance of the event raising funds for Pieta House: “Not only will this raise much-needed funds, but it gives people an opportunity to try something new.

“Looking after your mental health is very important right now. If anyone is finding it hard, I would encourage them to reach out and talk.”

Pieta is here for people who are in suicidal distress and since March we have received 10,000 calls to our helpline.

Cal the Pieta Helpline on 1800 247 247 or visit for more information.

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