stimulant sober

Thinking about going ‘Stimulant Sober?’

Join me on my Seven Day Challenge…

By Susie Howell, Co-Director of Ibiza Retreats

On the first day of the year, I made the decision to go ‘Alcohol Sober’ for January, to honour the end of what had unexpectedly turned out to be a really tough year for me. I decided that what I needed was to embrace the New Year and the new decade with clarity and focus!  And I must admit, throughout the long month of January, this decision has helped me to feel clear, calm and newly positive; so much so, that I am considering extending my abstinence as long as it continues to feel good for me.

Of course, exercise, healthy diet and plenty of sleep are factors that are also contributing to my Feel Good factor, as part of my self-care routine and holistic wellbeing, but this month of abstinence has given me food for thought.

It’s not that I felt I was drinking too much necessarily,  although having an active toddler combined with all the availability of the Christmas indulgences, it felt more like I was finding myself reaching for, let’s call it, “a something” on a more regular basis.

During my January month of alcohol abstinence, I’ve now noticed that “the something” I reach for has switched to the odd coffee or a black tea. And whilst caffeine is not an alcoholic drink, or nicotine or drugs, it is still a stimulant or “a fix” of sorts that I am using to change something in this moment.

It feels like something to reward, distract, divert or suppress a feeling or emotion and which offers that sense of instant gratification. Life ‘stuff’ happens, it ebbs and it flows and there are the inevitable ups and downs along the road, but I wanted to explore this pattern a little more closely.

For me, it’s less about the stimulant itself, but more about the intention behind it.

And here’s the science bit. Dopamine is known as the feel-good neuro-transmitter. This is the chemical which the brain releases when we eat food we crave and have sex. It is even released when we receive positive messages or social media feedback or undertake in any generally pleasurable activities. It gives us feelings of satisfaction and it’s linked to indulgent and addictive behaviours and patterns. Just so dopamine doesn’t get a bad press – it’s very necessary in us as it’s responsible for motivation, mood, attention and it also helps regulate movement, learning and even emotional responses.

So these “somethings” or stimulants literally take you out of your body and into your head.

Dopamine is active in the frontal cortex of the brain as well as the limbic (or reptilian) brain which in turn, sets off our fight, flight or freeze response. It stimulates the sympathetic side of our autonomic nervous system. Once the fight, flight or freeze response if activated = less patience = reactivity = anxiety = for example, lack of trust. In every day life this translates as living our lives in a state of constant reactivity and flux. That’s not the goal we really want in our day to day life – and it’s ultimately very draining living in this constantly ‘hocked up’ state!

So I would like to offer you to take part in the Seven Day Challenge with me.

First up in the challenge is the removal of caffeine! I’d love to know how you get on and what you notice during the week. Any positive affects or any observations…? Let’s talk about it!

So what can you do instead? How can we increase our Dopamine levels naturally?

  • Your diet! Eat foods rich in Tyrosine. In order to make dopamine, your body needs tyrosine which can be found in almonds, bananas, avocados, eggs and beans for example
  • Exercise – only 30 mins a day can boost your mood exponentially. This doesn’t mean an expensive gym membership – just get outside! Walk, cycle, hike in nature, take a yoga or pilates class – just bring daily movement into your life!
  • Undertake a meditation practice. Meditation improves dopamine. Fact. Check out our Ibiza Retreats Soundcloud page for Guided Meditations by our very own Larah Davis, or check our my favourite app Insight Timer, which has the best content of all the online meditation apps.
  • Prioritise sleep. This is the time when our body can rest, repair, regulate and regenerate and those all-important neuro pathways are repaired and renewed.
  • Listen to calming music. It’s a cliché, but it works! You can try this in conjunction with a deeply restorative yoga poseViparita Karani  – or to put it simply, it’s just legs up the wall as the direct translation! This is a favourite of ours at Ibiza Retreats – and it really works! Lie down on the floor, facing a wall, on your back with your bum as close to the skirting board  / floor to ceiling join as possible. Shuffle your bottom up against the wall until it is as close to the wall as possible, with your legs up against the wall. And breathe…slowly, deeply, keeping your legs vertical, resting against the wall. This is a game-changing pose – it’s my ‘Go To’ restorative asana.
  • Add nutrients and supplements into your self-care routine. For example the nutrients  iron, niacin, folate, the B vitamin family and magnesium and the supplements Ashwaganda , curcuma, oregano extract and (caffeine free!) green tea have all been linked to increased dopamine production. You can have a blood test to determine if you are deficient in any of these. Add a high quality pro-biotic to keep the gut (the second brain) in tip-top health.

If you’d like to learn more about topics like this and how to make those big life changes, that will optimise your physical and emotional wellbeing join us in 2020 for one of our carefully curated yoga and holistic wellbeing retreats.

Here is a link to our full calendar … and we are offering 10% off for retreats booked before February 14th – which we are taking the liberty to re-frame as the day of…


You can email for more information, or call us if you want to chat to a friendly human voice for all the details on 0034 663 093 499.

Wheel of Life Priorities – Self Coaching for 2020 Clarity

As we enter into the new chapter that 2020 allows, let’s embrace the 2020 Clear Vision!

by Larah Davis, Founder & Co-Director of Ibiza Retreats



I invite you to take just 20 minutes to reflect on and feel into your priorities so that you can enjoy a year (and years ahead) fuelled by the sense of power, ease and trust-in-life that unfolds when you are truly clear.

“Clarity is power and power is in the now” – Spiritual Entrepreneur Mentor Keith Cunningham

Create an hour for yourself, take a walk, stretch, and put on, if you wish, some calming music that enables you to relax and feel good in yourself before sitting for a few minutes, with your hands on your belly to slow down your mind by focussing on your breathing.

Set a timer for five minutes and breathe in for 4 and out for 6.  Keep your breathing long, slow and consistent, without forcing.  Keep it easy.

Now look below at the WHEEL OF LIFE.


wheel of life


Look at each of these different areas of your life shown and ask yourself:


  1. How much time/energy/effort did you invest in each area of your life  in 2019? ( 0 – 10 )


  1. How much energy/positive reward did you receive in 2019? (0 – 10)


  1. What do you want to achieve, experience/receive in each area in 2020?


  1. What do you need to prioritise for your work-life balance so that you can enjoy the journey?
  1. Next – explore the action steps that you need to take to allow these intentions to unfold.


Keep it simple, realistic and compelling.  Remember – to enjoy the magic at the Top of a Mountain, you need to walk the foothills first!


If you would like more support to reflect and fine-tune your focus and goal-setting strategies, contact me directly at to book a private Skype Coaching session.

And join us for our New Year’s Co-Coaching call – for our Ibiza Retreats world-wide family.

TUESDAY January 21st at 5pm Ibiza Time and I, Larah, will be there to support you  to reflect on your own “self-care first” strategies for SUSTAINABLE success.


We will each share our top 3 intentions and reflect together, supported by each others presence energy and insights to feel clear, focussed and empowered to  grow and expand this year, in harmony with your own and your wider needs and responsibilities.

Community support can enable us to achieve so much more.  We will continue this co-Coaching calls once per month into 2020 enabling the Clarity to expand, deepen and enable our inner-calm and strength to grow.

I’m looking forward to sharing the journey with you!


With love,


Larah x

winter solstice

Winter Solstice – Internal Hibernation

“Because it’s when the night is darkest that you can see the stars shine”


by Larah Davis, Founder and Co-Director of Ibiza Retreats

It’s nearly here…  Winter Solstice, the 21st of December, is the shortest day and the longest night.

Hibernation is the natural invitation from both the solar system, and our holistic systems.


Are you feeling it? A tiredness, a need to slow down, speak less, sleep more, “go inward” and rest?


However, this darkest time in the Northern Hemisphere is not a bad thing…. it is only in our 21st century ‘always on’ cultures have we been conditioned by a collective consciousness that ‘doing more’ equals happiness and success.


Yet, many of us are already realising and remembering that our happiness depends on our health.  Wealth is dependent on Wellness (and “Wellthy” is probably a better word).


So rather than resisting this seasonal slow-down, why not hunker down, nestle in, get cosy in yourSELF, with your loved ones or alone.


Relish this space and time to STOP and reflect…


Because now is the time, when we can most naturally tune in to see the insights shining bright – and all jewels of learning from the year of 2019 glowing.


So what are your jewels of learning from your life-rollercoaster of 2019?


* What have been your greatest challenges?


* What strengths have you called upon to overcome them?


* What qualities are you seeing more clearly in yourself? And in your partners, co-workers, family and friends?


* Is there anything you feel you want to forgive and let go of? Either in yourself or of others?


* What can you be most grateful for, that you have created, enabled or received?


And by reflecting on these questions, with the light of this new awareness, you can gently inquire of yourself;


* What will you do differently in 2020 so  that you can THRIVE and enjoy more health (the OPPOSITE of stress!) and happiness?


Remember – when YOU thrive, your world around you thrives too!


This Winter Solstice, as we slow down to then embrace the YULETIDE SPIRIT over the Christmas period, take this important – and deserved – time to enjoy the reflection.


Sending you our love and warmest wishes for a peaceful and enjoyable Festive Season,


Larah, Susie & the Ibiza Retreats Family x

community consciousness

Community Consciousness – sober, centered and enjoying high vibes!

Photograph by Sophie Gomez Fonzo

When two candle-flames come together, the flame grows exponentially.

As the nights grow shorter and it gets colder doesn’t it feel good to get together, with other like-minded souls ?  Whether yoga, meditation, breathing, singing or even dancing together, when done with respect for one another, and one’s self, a certain magic happens and we come away feeling nourished at a heart-and-soul level.

  We are at a powerful turning point in humanity’s evolution.

We have spent too much time on Facebook, or alone in bed with our phones.

We are remembering how deeply good it feels to laugh, cry, sing, move, dance, practice yoga, meditation in silence or – equally – open our voices and share our stories with other open-minded, accepting and tolerant beings.

Because when we come together consciously, we are fulfilling one of the mot fundamental human needs: love and connection.   

Personally, being in groups where I can be myself, in my truth, helps me feel reconnected, seen, heard and also enables a vortex of energy in which, with common intentions, I can deepen my own experience and connection to myself. My inner-world and sense of spaciousness expands and I feel, in the right communities, a genuine raising of energy vibrations because I feel SAFE, my nervous system relaxes and I can rest into a rising sense of self-worth.

You, our retreat guests, give us as much positive feedback about the healing and inspiring process of forming a community dynamic as within your individual journeys on retreat.

For thousands of years, human beings have connected in circle, to smoke the pipe of peace, share the fire, eat together, sleep together to keep safe from wild animals, to pray, sing and dance for rain, sun and celebration.

We come as unique and magnificent beings whose energies, ideas and backgrounds weave a colourful and dynamic tapestry that is as enriching as it is interesting.

With so many of us living in individual apartments or homes, running our lives from our tablets and phones, a sense of disconnection can creep up and leave us feeling very much alonel being together like this enables us to be in the moment – to become present and feel more relaxed and in our zone.

So why not prioritise this November, as your mid-week radiator, your “in the diary non-negotiable” self-time to replenish your system with a positive self-love infusion of community-vibes?

Check our your local yoga studio for different and interesting events and experiences – because  it is much more than what happens on the mat.  The studios and shalas that are blossoming throughout our cities are becoming hubs for all sorts of consciousness-raising, good-vibes. They are creating “happenings” that offer opportunities for personal healing, growth – and above all the JOY of true connection.    

So, this November, make a promise to yourself of an ongoing commitment to nurture your own self-love and prioritise your self-care practices. Plan ahead where possible and make it an integral part of your day to day life.

And if you feel you are ready to invest further in yourSELF, have a look at our 2020 retreat calendar and join our beautiful community of like-minded souls on a transformational retreat at our luxurious hilltop hideaway in Ibiza – and enjoy a 10% discount off all retreat bookings made before December 31st!

We would be honoured to welcome you!

With love

Larah x

Embrace your Lunar Cycle for Deep Healing and Wellbeing

By Larah Davis

Our lunar cycle affects us in oh-so many ways….


This month, in the days prior to my bleed time, I felt angry, frustrated, highly emotional.  My “peaks and troughs” rendered me physically, as well as emotionally exhausted and, by the time my bleed arrived, the gratitude I felt, for this blissful relief and tension release, was beyond words.

And I was.  Beyond words.  The pains and aches had felt almost like contractions in the previous days.

Thankfully, I track my cycle.

I could surrender, pamper myself.  Let my family and husband know that I was in this “late autumn” phase of my moon cycle and that I needed more time and space to rest.  

So their expectations of me dropped.  And I could drop my own self-made pressures to ‘do-do-do’ for my children, home, and beyond.
When my bleed began, I was able to stop.  

To bless and just ‘be’ in the quieter time I needed.  I turned off my phone and minimised external interactions.  (And I have a 2 and an 8 year old – both on summer holidays – so this is no mean feat! I can tell you!)

I slept longer, gently cuddled my family more, and as I had pre-negotiated this “self-care time” I was able to retreat alone to my bed, bend my knees over a bolster and drift in and out of trance-like meditative sleeps.

You see, I began to study Womb Yoga several years ago.  So many of our retreat clients come with high levels of anxiety, depression, report mood-swings, exhaustion, overwhelm, insomnia, infertility…. I could keep going.

These are ALL stress-related issues and from what I have observed over the last 10 years of leading, teaching and facilitating on our retreats, the greatest stress that we put ourselves under constantly is to “perform” when our physical body, our innate knowing, our personal rhythms, are actually asking us to slow down, stop, rest and receive.


In essence, your Lunar Cycle calibrates the ovarian cycle that completes with menstruation each month.  Yet even pre, during and post-menopausal women, can still utilise the cycle to map out our monthly needs, as a woman.

Waxing Moon / Inner-Spring
– around days 7 – 13  (pre-ovulation phase)
Waxing to Full Moon / Inner-Summer – days 14 – 21 (ovulation)
Waning Moon / Inner-Autumn – days 21 – 28 (luteal phase)
Dark Moon / Inner-Winter – days 1 – 6 (approx)  menstruation

We all need the different internal ‘seasons’ which are naturally occurring, to both accelerate our creative projects, socialise and celebrate in Summer, to begin to slow down in autumn, reflect a little more, then rest and recharge in winter (where often the most amazing visions can flow forth) so that in Spring-time, from our winter of stillness, we are calmer, clearer fresh and replenished, full of new life and new zing!

By recording the fluctuations of your cycle you can recognise your emotional highs and lows, your energy peaks and troughs; you can identify when you are feeling physically and emotionally at your strongest and also know when you most need to ‘retreat’ and focus on your own self-care.

You can become the rider of your life horse, at one with the moon and the stars
to strategise your diary to meet and negotiate all your challenges – and yes these challenges can include such events as children’s birthday parties – when you are in your all-powerful, high-vibing summer-time.  Your meditation retreat? Best in Autumn or Winter.  Your 5K race? Possibly Spring!
Do you see how this can work for you? How, in fact, with this tracking and awareness of your cycle you can enable your whole BEING to work with the most benefit for you, as you stop over-doing it when your inner-wisdom tells you to.

And instead…. be like a tree…. reconnect to your body, that comes from the earth and receive the nourishment you need – open up your branches to receive the light, the space and the time that you need.

You can use different Apps to track your cycle – like My Moon Phase Lunar Calendar.

Or join us on our NOURISH women’s empowerment retreat that starts on Sunday 22nd of September, to experience a deep, transformative journey.


We utilise womb yoga, restorative and therapeutic flow yoga, sound healing, transformative breath-work, shakti-energy awakenings , pelvic floor healing, and crystal healing to embrace the sacred feminine power you hold – as well as naturopathic nutritionist guidance to balance your hormonal cycle.

Tailor-made programs of women’s treatments and therapies, enable you to focus on the personal healing you need, yet within an inspiring and supportive sisterhood – that enables you to live your truths, in body, heart and soul.

The world needs us to remember our connection to the earth – that we are “at one with the moon and the stars” (Desiderata).


Come join us this September – reconnect to the natural rhythms of your womb and her vital messages, release the self-made pressures….. and let your heart shine.

Contact us for full details of the Nourish Womens Empowerment retreat.