Practice Self Love & Self Care this Valentines Day

By Larah Davis – Founder & Co-Director of Ibiza Retreats

“Be gentle with yourself”

In our society that celebrates high achievers, so many of us – and especially women – have pushed ourselves to and beyond our limits, and out of balance with our own natural rhythms and cycles that invite us to be gentle with ourselves at certain times of the lunar month – and year.

So the greatest gift of self love – that I practice every day and as often as I can remember, is to feel in, to tune onwards to my inner sense of self and to keep asking myself:

Does this feel like a pleasure? Or a pressure?

Your body, with its innate intelligence is ALWAYS channelling your highest good, so to feel inward is the key…. first thing in the morning, before you open your emails or turn on your phone… before you respond and say “yes” automatically…

“You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”
Max Ehrmann

So this Valentine’s day – be compassionate when you feel you should be doing more or better, be kind to yourself about the dropped balls, less-than calm moments, mistakes in judgement – arguments and anger, anxieties and fears.

You deserve to honour, love and en JOY yourself – you deserve to be soft as well as strong, vulnerable and in need of support as well as the high-flying leader – and you are all of these things – it is what makes you YOU and you human ( or woman ).

As a mother of now two wonderful young beings, chaos often reigns in the most colourful and challenging ways!

Ibiza Retreats was my first baby and the passion that I felt for growing this organisation, for our purpose in serving the wellness of our clients, in Ibiza, in many magical ways, was hard to surpass.

It has taken TWO bright and shining little angels, to call me UP to the next level of self-care because, unless I nourish myself and my needs first, I simply don’t have enough patience and energy to give them the wonderful life experience that they deserve.

And now, on returning more fully into Ibiza Retreats this year, as a retreat leader, teacher, coach and yoga therapist, (as well as the business development and management that is all part of this great journey) there are more opportunities than ever, into which I can pour my energy.  And ALL of this, has been my joyful creation – yet, unless carefully managed, internally and externally, it can also become overwhelming.

So to maintain my sense of self, my connect to source, spirit and inner-self – as well as a mother’s heightened sense of awareness of all that is happening to my children, our clients and our team….  practicing kindness and compassion towards myself is the HEART-stone, of my self-practice:

–  In my morning barefoot walk to ground myself and connect to Mother Earth’s replenishing energies…  amidst the almond trees (alone – and complete with a steaming cup of ginger, turmeric tea)

–  In my conscious breathing in the fresh morning air – where I breathe into my heart to invite the kindness and compassion in (and exhale out from my belly, to release all self-judgement and self-criticism)

–  In my morning meditations where I create a sense of inner space – and evening legs-up-the-wall kidney & adrenal loving Viparita Karani rejuvenation

–  In the way I practice my yoga – accepting that right now, less = more – yin, therapeutic, soft yet deep, restorative and nurturing – whenever I can, throughout the day, without being overly disciplined

–  In the way I mindfully eat enough of the “treat” dark chocolate with nuts, bio curries and sumptuous vegan roasts to feel like I am TREATING myself on a daily basis

My self-care practice has expanded in many different ways  – and I also plan time into my week which is PURELY for doing what I LOVE (riding my horse!) and for what truly fills me up (juices and breakfasts and singing circles with sisters).

Patanjali himself, in the original yoga sutras, talks about finding your source of joy and happiness, which enables you to access this Anandamaya Kosha level of existence.

Never has this been more important, because by being KIND to myself, rather than PUSHING myself to keep going, by surrendering to the mess and the chaos which is PART of every parent’s hood, I am letting go of the egoic need to control and constantly “succeed”. Through this, compassion flows from my heart to my children, to my husband, to our Ibiza Retreats team, clients, friends and the world around us.

Yet my greatest practice of self-love and self-care has to be practicing self-acceptance, when I feel tired and reactive, lose my patience or feel low. Those are the times when it is so much easier to self-critique – yet by observing these emotional highs and lows, and looking behind them to their root causes, I can see where I have been over-doing things, get to know my “tipping points” and come back again to where and when pleasure tipped into pressure…. and that, I believe is the root of all loving self-caring.

And as I keep filling my CUP with kindness, compassion and JOYFUL choices, it keeps flowing over to the world around me.

Wishing you all SO MUCH LOVE, this Valentine’s Day!

Larah x