I had the pleasure of spending 3 weeks assisting Claudia on HolyMama retreats this past fall. I had been to Ibiza before (once upon a time I spent all hours of the night dancing at Pacha in a glitter miniskirt) and was looking forward to returning to the island and embarking on a new experience, with a different intention.
Upon arrival, I was greeted by familiar faces (Claudia and her adorable little ones) who whisked me away to the lush countryside — billboards for nightclubs slowly faded into the distance as the horizon became lined with orange, lemon and fig trees. Weaving through local, empty campo roads we arrived at Can Jordi. It was Sunday morning, hours before our first Mama and baby duo arrived. I took a few moments to absorb everything before me and to remind myself I had landed in Ibiza. The all white villa seemed to sparkle against the deep blue sky and vibrant gardens. I explored the villa — the welcoming kitchen (where the famous HolyMama health food is prepared), the large rooms with Balinese style beds (plush enough for anyone to sink into a deep siesta) and roof deck terrace which overlooked the surrounding hills, a crystal clear pool and private terrace for yoga. Claudia’s vision became completely clear to me as I took in the energy of Can Jordi, the countryside and realized it was perfect: the space was nurturing, relaxing and sacred. I knew that along with vibrant food, profound yoga and space for unwinding, mums would be able to feel fully supported and nourished.
I quickly slipped into the HolyMama rhythm — waking earlier than the sleepy Spanish sun (fall sunrise is around 7:30 which provides for a lovely lie in!) and enjoying the quiet early morning in the yoga shala. Greeting freshly awake and excited babies was always the highlight of the morning, especially once they began to recognize me and offered genuine, sweet smiles. That same excitement transferred to Mamas faces when Claudia handed them a beautiful fresh pressed juice of veggies, fruits and super foods. I had the pleasure of teaching yoga classes throughout the retreats which was an added bonus and gave me a chance to connect with Mamas on a deeper level. Once Mamas came to their mats, an almost immediate sense of softness, gratitude and passion sparked within them. It was obvious how much they needed this space to reconnect with themselves. I felt honored to lead them through this journey of re-exploring their bodies, discovering the power of breath and easing their minds. For some Mamas, this was the first time they could devote time to themselves, knowing their baby was in the safe hands of carers, and only 100 meters away if for any reason their baby needed them. It seemed like the perfect way to transition as mother and child, to embrace growth and independence and to nurture one another — gentle yoga for mums & crafts and playtime in nature for babies.
I was lucky to taste test natural food chef, Maili’s incredible cooking — my appetite was strong (especially after a good stretch in yoga!) and I would help serve the meals on the large communal table on the terrace. Can Jordi (as many traditional Spanish fincas) is a beautiful fusion of architecture - simple, clean and with plenty of living space outdoors. This must be due to the 300 days of sunshine per year Ibiza is graced with! Mamas enjoyed ‘me time’ as they ate their brunch, freshened up or relaxed with a massage. By 12 noon the little ones arrived back onsite after a well coordinated journey to the surrounding field and greeted their mums with huge hugs and flowers from the garden (well, okay this was mostly the little girls who brought their mums sunflowers, but I’m sure the little boys will catch on very soon!)
By now the sun was strong and most Mamas were lured by the turquoise waters of the island. Within an hour the house became empty again and I spent the afternoons equally as lazy…reading (sometimes accompanied by a siesta) by the pool, a beach excursion or treat from one of the many delicious cafes (Passion, Can Guimo & Wild Beets among my favorite!)
Returning to help Maili serve dinner, (always arriving early to catch up with her in the kitchen to learn her philosophy on cooking and listen to her stories of yoga teaching and travels) we would laugh (I would sneakily taste test the unbelievable flavors she paired together) and we would get ready for hungry Mamas and babies to arrive. After dinner (and on the special nights a healthy desert to accompany it!) babies fell asleep and Mamas had a chance to sit down with a cup of herbal tea or a glass of smooth Spanish wine. The gentle energy of the night allowed time for contemplation and rejuvenation. Some mums would converse with one another while others took in the solitude and star gazed. I, too, took time for myself as I enjoyed the short walk down the camino which was lit only by the moon. The days were full and stimulating, yet I felt deeply alive and connected to nature. Most important I felt a sense of purpose and devotion as I had the opportunity to be a part of a special community of women.
Three things I learned from experiencing HolyMama retreats:
1. Retreats are magic
Retreats are designed for stepping out of your regular daily routine and slowing down. The routine of a retreat (incorporated time and space away from your child, healthy meals ready on the table, laundry and house cleaned daily, time out from partners, social commitments and work) offer a chance to reset and reconnect with your body & mind. For most, a retreat is something extraordinary and absolute nourishment. It is an experience (no matter what your lifestyle) that will leave you feeling inspired to make accessible changes in your daily routine and continue this pattern of nourishment. It is vital that as women (naturally maternal, therefore have instincts to care for others before themselves) that we devote as much love to ourselves as we do our family and friends.
2. Diversity is beautiful
Within three short weeks at HolyMama, I must have met women from a minimum of 10 different countries! It is extraordinary how diverse women, from all walks of life (and all different levels of yoga and yes, very different styles of parenting!) have an opportunity to come together as a group and share, teach and learn from one another. It is pretty amazing when you see two mothers enjoying a conversation and laugh together after one’s child threw food at the others. The differences among the women make these retreats unique, fun and fresh — the bond they form with one another (whether it is because they are both stay at home mothers, lawyers by day, yogis, or simply women) is deeply moving.
3. Mamas are amazing!
As a woman with no children (yet!) I would like to personally bow to the feet of every mother in the world. WOW! I had no idea what goes into raising a child until I was surrounded by 7 Mama/baby duos for 3 weeks. Babies do and will take turns with their mini tantrums...observing the mothers immediate response and natural ways of soothing their little one showed me the immense amount of patience, compassion and unconditional love mothers have. However, it wasn't until the babies returned that unconditional love (with a hug, stuffed animal or funny dance move for Mama) that my heart melted. It became evident that our relationships are complete reflections of one another, and mother and baby is one of the most powerful experiences of creation, devotion and love.
LAUREN LEE is passionate about holistic health, exploring the world and empowering others to live vibrant and happy lives. Founder of Raise Your Beat, dedicated yogini and sun seeker, she lives for creating connection and enjoying simple pleasures. Read more about her here