How retreats can help you align with your purpose

“The meaning of life is to find your gift.

The purpose of life is to give it away.”

                                   Pablo Picasso

A big aim of mine with the HolyMama retreats is to create space for women to align with their purpose. For some this simply means being the best possible mum for their child but for many it’s about reconnecting with dreams and visions. Becoming a mother can throw us off course as we become absorbed in the daily routines of baby’s needs. Many mums find they can’t go back to old jobs because they’ve either been pushed out or they’ve outgrown them. Coming on a retreat can really help launch a process of realignment or connection with your authentic self.

I wasn’t always running retreats for mums.

I used to be a hard-working corporate woman. My best shoulder firmly attached to the wheel, I dedicated my life to work. Being a television foreign correspondent in a city you could call the centre of the Western world (London) meant I had to drop everything when news broke. And news broke at the most inappropriate times: At a friend’s birthday party, before a planned weekend away, during a long-awaited family reunion or on what could have simply been a lazy Sunday off.

But then my world turned upside down. I left Big TV. It felt like crazy at the time, but also enticingly liberating. I turned my back on (to quote Caroline Myss) ‘how I thought my life should be and embraced the life that was working its way into my consciousness’. Luckily I had the bravado and trust to follow my gut, which led me to the other side of the planet to write a novel and years later open a beach yoga retreat. This huge life change didn’t happen overnight, it took a few years to manifest. I’ve self-determined my life since over a decade now.

 There are pivotal moments in a woman’s life which create the energy to trigger massive transformation. It could be – like in my case - losing your job. It could be the shock of becoming a mother, becoming ill or losing a loved one. These events propel you on new adventures and paths. Priorities shift. You may realise you’ve outgrown your old life. Having the carpet pulled out under your feet provides a great opportunity to tap into where you really want to be going.

What is your gift or your special gifts?

What makes you unique, beautiful and female?

What do you desire most? (What do you fear most? Sometimes it’s easier to identify what you’re afraid of.)

 What else could you be doing with your talents?

 It may seem impossible to be making money sewing bespoke scatter cushions, but if that’s what you’re passionate about, you wouldn’t be the first entrepreneur to launch a successful business on the back of a whim. 

Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life. Tip toe if you must, but take the step.”

Naeem Callaway

I’m not saying that your career should be your purpose or that it even has anything to do with work. You may not even need to leave the corporate world to fulfil your purpose. Many people find a regular job gives them the stability and backbone to levitate from. My former TV job was the perfect training ground for everything I do now; it was fulfilling my purpose in a different phase of my growth.  It’s also fallacy to think you have to go out in search of our purpose because your purpose is not separate from you. It’s who you are in your essence. It’s what floats your boat, rocks your world and lights you up. Those around you are lit up when you are being you. It is your authentic self.

 Most of us get stuck in ruts. Modern life is busy and our energy is spent on so many different tasks and responsibilities. If you’re often feeling frustrated that you’re not fulfilling your potential, it might be time to do some deeper soul searching or some re-aligning in order to upgrade your life.

It’s important you get to fulfil your potential; for yourself, for your children, for the future of our planet. I don’t know whether you’ve heard about the tipping point effect that comes into play when more people are aligned with their life’s purpose. At the moment 1% of the world’s population is said to be using their unique gift. Once we hit 3% we’re ‘saving the planet’ so to speak because the number of empowered and self-determined beings will grow exponentially.

The HolyMama retreats are designed to provide a sacred space for women to get into their element. The locations are specifically chosen where nature is abundant, making it easier to connect with dreams and visions. Doing yoga helps align you physically, mentally and spiritually. Being by the ocean is invigorating and cleanses you from electromagnetic stress. And then of course the food you eat is important because it’s the vessel for your vision. Being fed nutrient-dense meals and juices and not having to think about preparing them for a week opens up space for other creative thoughts and endeavours. 

You were born a woman at this time in history for a reason. Not only are you privileged to be alive at this particular point in time which is so exciting, as we move from the separated ego to the interconnected collective and a more heart-centred society. But you have the education, resources and that amazing intuition inherent to your feminine nature to work miracles.

Sisterhood and humankind await your contribution.

The abundance of the universe welcomes and supports you, once you say yes to what it is you can give.

Give your deepest calling a voice, speak it out loud. Tell your loved ones or tell the world and take that step - even if it’s a tentative, fairy step.

Meet Maili, natural foods chef & yoga teacher

HolyMama’s dedicated natural foods chef who has a passion for holistic living. You will find her in the kitchen preparing nourishing food and in the yoga space teaching heart opening yoga. She is a woman full of life, laughter and soul. 

HolyMama: Which came first, your love for yoga or your interest in cooking?


Maili: My love for yoga came first. Some of my earliest memories are of me and my Mom doing yoga together. My favourite pose was Simhasana, or Lion Pose as it is the silliest looking pose in yoga. You sit, tense your body, roll your eyes up in the sockets and breathe out ‘Haa’ quite forcefully while sticking your tongue out till it almost touches your chin. I was a wild child! When I was 19 I met a man called Yoga Dave in the Kootenays where I lived in Canada. He made incredible life sized fluorescent paintings of the human body illustrating the nadis and chakras etc. He told me the paintings were visions given to him by yoga. I was so inspired by his vitality and art I decided to go do a two year teacher training with his guru in India. I was all set to go, paperwork filled but life went in another direction and I didn’t end up taking a yoga teacher training till I was 36. Yoga Dave now owns a yoga retreat center on Ko Phangan, Thailand.

Cooking as a passion came later after I had already been a chef for almost a decade. It was a well-paid job that I fell into at the age of 20. It was so challenging for me as my family was vegetarian. We ate so differently than the mainstream. I don’t think we even had spaghetti and tomato sauce in my house! Normal cooking was a huge, steep learning curve for me especially as I was the only cook on my jobs. My teachers were cookbooks! But 11 years later I had the great good fortune of being an assistant to one of the top macrobiotic chefs in the world. My parents had been macrobiotic so it was a return to my roots. That experience changed my life forever and my relationship to cooking.

HolyMama: How have they influenced one another?

Maili: For me, both yoga and cooking are alchemy. Tapas is a Sanskrit word which means,’to heat’. It is the fire of transformation, of dedication. Both preparing healthy food and maintaining a yoga practice involve steady discipline, wisdom and love. Yoga is to heat from within, to ‘cook’, our body, heart and mind to become tempered in the fire of our spiritual practices. Cooking, also transforms from within, as we are what we eat, and also how we eat. How we eat means taking the time to sit for an unhurried meal and chew your food really well. Like yoga, our diets are dependent on our personal situation and there is no one size fits all.

HolyMama: Tell us a bit about your style of cooking, how would you describe it?

Maili: My style is: a green, a bean and a grain, a root, a round and some leafy. Add in a ferment, a raw, and a sweet. If I have all those components in a day I know I feel amazing. I like to cook for the conditions of the moment. I like to see what I need and address that. If it’s cold, I will cook stews and warm, comforting foods. If it’s hot I use more of the quick, bright energy foods like fruit and sprouts. Looking at the seasons, you can see nature provides us with the foods to eat that complement the season we are in.  So, I eat with the seasons and of course, as locally as I can. If I am feeling lethargic or heavy I will steam and use lighter cooking methods. If I feel spacy I might eat something fried and oily to ground me. Food is alchemy.

HolyMama: Do you think a Macrobiotic diet works for every body?

Maili: Yes. Macrobiotics is based on a healing modality that has its ancient roots in Ayurveda. More recently in Chinese medicine and the principles of yin and yang. Macrobiotics does not demand that one eats all the Japanese condiments, though they are so wonderful. Macrobiotics is about eating in harmony with the elements within and without to promote optimal well-being. Eating what is whole and not processed. So, many traditional diets from around the world are held in this wisdom. An Inuit diet high in fat and raw meat is macrobiotic to their environment. According to macrobiotics, one eats to ones age, condition, dreams, desires, environment. It is just common sense. And chew your food well!

HolyMama: What are simple ways to incorporate more healthy foods into your diet? (even if you are a busy Mama!)


  • Use one afternoon to pre-cook a grain, a pasta and a bean, cut some veggie sticks, prep some broccoli, some other veg, pre-wash some lettuce and make a couple dressings. Then you have it in the fridge for a few days and can combine things to make quick meals on the go.
  • Make soups.
  • Keep junk food out of the house.
  • My personal trick to make myself eat well is to pack my fridge with fresh vegetables and fruit. Then eat it before it goes off. Seriously.

HolyMama: What are 3 accessible foods/ingredients you would recommend to incorporate into your diet?


  • More steamed or boiled greens as well as or in place of salads as a side: kale, collards, sui choy, bok choy, swiss chard, mustard greens, dandelion greens, mizuna, amaranth and there are more! 
  • Cabbage. It is a proven anti-carcinogen.
  • Fermented foods like miso, tempeh, natto, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir etc. They each have different excellent benefits but a common thread is to keep your gut healthy by providing probiotics.  

HolyMama: What is your go to meal that is easy to prepare and nutritious?  

Maili: Udon or spiralized zucchini noodles in soup or in a stir-fry. 

HolyMama: Whats a ‘myth’ associated with healthy eating that you would like to set straight:

Maili: Thats it’s boring, or lacking in flavour. We are accustomed to over salted, over-sweetened, chemically flavoured food often made with bad oil and even rancid flour or milk. It can take a moment for the palate to re-adjust and become subtle.

HolyMama: Where do you find inspiration in the kitchen? 

Maili: These days I am so inspired by fermenting foods and sprouting. Opposite ends of the live food spectrum! I am always inspired by beautiful, fresh food. As well, I just got given a Thermomix, a spiralizer and a dehydrator so I am playing in the kitchen!

HolyMama:What do you love most about working on HolyMama retreats?

Maili: I love that hard-working Moms get time to rest and relax. I love the moment when the Moms let go a little when they realize all their needs are taken care of. I love the joy they express at being able to spend connected time with their little ones playing and not having to do any chores. I love the not always easy but ultimately joyful journey as Moms get a little self-love time doing yoga, getting a massage or drinking wine with each other.

HolyMama: How would you describe your yoga teaching?

Maili: Yoga changed me from the outside in and back again. Every arm of the practice has supported me in my life at one time or another from philosophy, to meditation to the poses. Yoga has taught me that I am capable of more than I thought and to not set limitations and to rest in the unknown. Yoga has taught me radical trust, patience, perseverance, dedication, compassion and the power of community.  The community of yogis around the world whom I have studied with, practiced with and call my friends are bright, curious, compassionate and each full of individual sparkle. I am constantly amazed at the generosity of the practice. It gives and keeps giving to you if you are open to receive. I hope my teaching reflects my love and devotion to yoga. I hope I may share or facilitate on a tangible level, in a way that people can experience for themselves that yoga is a practice to transform your life on all levels. I also hope my teaching reflects my voracious curiosity and appetite to keep learning. I teach to learn.  I hope my teaching helps!

HolyMama: What is your favorite part about teaching yoga to Mama’s on retreat?

Maili: I like the Moms getting to experience a more playful, unhurried me. Yoga teacher Maili smells better and wears nicer clothes than chef Maili! Also, I love that for some moms this may be the first hour and a half they have had away from their child, doing something that is only for them. For many this is their first class in a long time though they may have once been regular practitioners. A powerful experience that I am grateful to be a part of.

HolyMama: Your inspirations on the mat?

Maili: Ah, dedication and beginners mind. Endeavoring to ’not know' what will happen in my practice. This means not setting limitations or expectations for myself. Not telling myself I cannot do something. Maybe today is the day. Nor having expectations and insisting to myself if the practice doesn’t look a certain way I have not ‘accomplished’. Knowing, as one of my teachers says,’ that the key to next room is in the room I am in.' 

HolyMama: You are currently based in Ibiza - what is your favorite thing about living on the island? 

Maili: Thats easy. The country life: farmers fields, food to forage. The dark skies full of stars, the fresh air flowing off the sea through the pine trees and the sweet water that comes underground from the Pyrenees. The unparalleled generosity and comfortable eccentricity of the people I have made as friends. The great weather. The big hills and the beaches.

HolyMama: What is a dream you would like to manifest? 

Maili: I am almost there! I really want to live in a house in the country and grow a garden. Simple dream.

more on Maili

Maili’s Birthday Cake: A sweet & healthy treat!

Those of you who were on the first HolyMama week in autumn 2014 were able to enjoy not only a great yoga class taught by a birthday girl but you also got to eat some of her cake.

It can be nerve-wracking baking a cake for a chef who bakes the best chocolate brownies (and cookies) east of the Americas, but this mama has baked many a birthday cake – and likes a culinary challenge. I looked to crazy sexy Kris Carr for healthy inspiration and adapted a cupcake recipe of hers to make a yummy, nutritious birthday cake fit for a yoga retreat full of hungry mamas and babies.

Here’s the lowdown...



for the cake

1 1/2 cups corn flour, buckwheat flour or other gluten-free flour

1/4 cup raw cacao or cocoa powder

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup coconut sugar

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 avocado, peeled and flesh scooped out (make sure you use hass avocado, not green)

1/4 cup avocado or coconut oil

1 cup warm water

2 tablespoons agave syrup

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 egg (optional)

for the icing

2 large avocados, pitted and flesh scooped out of peel (again, use hass avocado, not green)

6 tablespoons raw cacao or cocoa powder

1/3 cup agave syrup or 6 pitted dates, soaked for 2+ hours and drained

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

dash sea salt

dash cinnamon (optional)

to bake

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit or 175 Celsius

2. Mix together the flour, cacao, baking soda, baking powder, sugar and sea salt.

3. Place your avocado, water, agave, apple cider vinegar and vanilla in a blender, and blend till smooth. Add this mixture (along with the egg) to the dry batter. Beat with an electric hand mixer or with a whisk for about 2-3 minutes until smooth.

4. Pour batter into a greased tin. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean (it may take a little more than 20 minutes).

5. While cake cools, mix all icing ingredients in a food processor or a high speed blender.

6. Ice the cake and serve. It tastes even more delicious a day later once all the ingredients have settled.

indulge & enjoy every bite!

HolyMama Heaven...

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. 

I came away from my time at HolyMama feeling inspired and with three things very present in my mind that I would like to share with you:

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. 

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.

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.

HolyMama is unlike any other retreat I have ever worked on, yet it is refreshing and always exciting. I am very honored to be a part of this fabulous community and look forward to seeing familiar faces in upcoming retreats through HolyMama!

Lots of love,


Musings with love

Welcome to Musings – the HolyMama blog. This is the space where we will be sharing pieces on holistic living, parenting, health, recipes, upcoming events and any other news.

We want it to be a platform for inspiration and useful information.

Many of the postings will be written by Claudia – The HolyMama founder and pilot – but there will also be guest postings by members of the team, such as Maili, Lauren and Flavia.

We’d also like to invite other mums to contribute – it could be anything from recipes to their experiences on the HolyMama week. 

Feel free to contribute all postings to

Enjoy being kissed by the muse!