Welcome to Ease into Yoga

Welcome to Ease into Yoga

 Living with Intention as a Regular Habit

“Mindfulness is about being fully awake in our lives. It is about perceiving the exquisite vividness of each moment. We feel more alive. We also gain immediate access to our own powerful inner resources for insight, transformation and healing.”   Jon Kabat Zin.

Yes, everything we do in our day to day living can be intentional, conscious and done with awareness. I love this so much, and yet have to constantly laugh at myself at failing so dismally at being intentional. Does this ever happen to you?  I find myself in the house, retracing my steps in the attempt to remember why I walked into this room. Surely I came here to get something, what though? Ha ha, so much for being intentional.  Yet the moments when I am fully engaged in what I am doing, time does expand, the moment does become vivid and I feel so alive.

This brilliant illumination came to me not in a Himalayan temple, but in my tiny kitchen. The dreaded task of emptying the dishwasher faces me again. Ugh, gotta get ‘r done quickly so I can move on to something more fun.  What if I did this intentionally? What if I took the time to place each plate, glass and piece of cutlery intentionally into its assigned place? Aha, now I am placing my world in order. There is a satisfaction about that, a warm feeling of my breathing and of being productive. This is enjoyable and I feel vividly alive.  I am transformed by simply taking  time, this NOW time, my real life,  and doing the simple task well. I am healing my unconscious habit of hurtling forward to the next thing, totally missing this moment!

Oh that was easy!


Weekend Getaway Retreat at La Casa de Maria

Weekend Getaway Retreat at La Casa de Maria

Cultivating Mindfulness in Every Day Life.

This exquisite fully booked weekend is now complete. Everyone went home deeply renewed with more friends, greater love for life and a commitment to live mindfully.  Watch this space for next year’s retreat.

Friday May 17 4.00pm till Sunday May 19 1.00pm 2013

Celebrate Springtime in this beautiful retreat setting

Maggie and Holly Sacks of Insight 3.0 invite you to join them on a weekend retreat. Mindfulness is paying attention in a particular way, in the present moment, without judgement. Based on ancient, sacred traditions, Mindfulness provides a path to compassion, equanimity, and wisdom.

Cultivating Mindfulness in Daily Life includes setting intentions for the day, mindful breathing,  moving, listening, eating and journaling, plus various forms of meditation, walking the sacred path of the labyrinth, and the optional morning yoga practice.

We will have informational presentations balanced with direct experience practice, as well as plenty of unstructured time for you to be with yourself in the supportive environment.

Nestled in the elegant hills above Santa Barbara, La Casa de Maria provides the ideal sanctuary for what we know will be an insightful and memorable experience for all.

All inclusive cost, shared rooms, Friday evening  to Sunday afternoon   Cost: $ 395.00

This is the Early Bird price. After April 15th, if there is still place, cost is $ 439.00

Register Now with Paypal

You may also pay by check: Maggie Mellor 2553 Ciro Ave., Thousand Oak, CA 91360

More about Holly Sacks

  • Former senior vice president of marketing and corporate strategy at HID Global
  • BA in cultural anthropology from University of California at Berkeley.
10 years ago, I met HollyHolly when she attended my retreat at La Casa de Maria.
Holly took to the practice of yoga, completed  the Yoga Teacher Training, and soon became a practitioner of Mindfulness.
Together she and I have enjoyed hours of engaged conversation, many international journeys and  delight in conscious living. This  has culminated in a partnership in this program Insight 3.0 dedicated to bringing the practice of mindfulness to groups beyond the yoga studios.
More about La Casa de Maria
This beautiful retreat center provides a sanctuary for personal reflection and communal connection. It is situated in the upmarket area of Montecito and borders the luxurious Santa Ynez Estate. Yet the offerings are simple and very affordable.  I have been hosting retreats here for 10 years and never fail to marvel again at the exquisite natural environment tended by the very kind staff and the welcoming of all who love to take refuge. Oh, and the food is great, fresh, healthy and made with love. Special diets are accommodated.
The photos below taken at earlier retreats:

solitary seat at creek

Pacific Ocean views from Montecito

Unforgettable journey to Burma now complete.

Unforgettable journey to Burma now complete.

January 2nd 2013 – Jan 16th 2013

Temples at Bagan

This journey is now sold out.

Join us on a journey to a country where the clock of development has stood still for many years.
Where the main city traffic is made up of thousands of bicycles. Where  stilted villages float on lakes and people never leave the water; where the sound of the dharma bell rings over the peaceful farmlands. Come to the Golden Land where red robed monks and a serene smiling people will enchant you with their grace and hospitality.

Also known as Myanmar, Burma is a land where Buddhism is the way of life. Courageously, having been repressed by a military regime for many years, the people have continued the path that leads to the End of Suffering. Thankfully, change is happening and there is democratizing of the infrastructures. Now this destination has been named as one of the Top 10 in the world.

Some of the highlights: Soaking up the peaceful air at Shwedagon Pagoda at sunset.

Exploring ancient temples of Bagan in a horse and cart.

Floating on a long boat on the serene Inle Lake.

Cruising down the Irriwady River through remote villages.

Exploring limestone caves at Pindaya  filled with hundreds of Buddha Images.

Savor the excellent Shan cuisine of fish from the lake,

Shopping in the bustle of crowded markets and shops in colonial Rangoon.

In keeping with the request of Nobel Peace Laureate Aung Suu Ki, we are avoiding large hotels owned by the military junta and will stay at carefully chosen properties to ensure that our visit brings benefit to locals.

We visit all the most important places: Yangoon, Bagan, Mandalay and Inle Lake. We travel by road, air and by boat.   All kinds of boats! From a river boat cruise on the Irrawaddy River an all-day experience with lunch on board, to sunset canoes on the lake. We walk, hike and are taken around in horse drawn buggies!  Temples, markets, scenery and great food.  This is not to be missed!

We are hosted by highly experienced and knowledgeable Engish-speaking guides

With all the eagerness of visiting a whole new culture, we practice Mindfulness on our Sacred Journey. We  tread lightly as we go. A short daily meditation together will keep our focus and our energies aligned with Present Moment Awareness.

A small group of friends in a foreign land: what can be better?

The dates include flying time from Los Angeles. If you are coming in from elsewhere, know that we begin in Yangoon on January 4th.  We return home to LAX on January 16th early in the morning.

Visas are required to visit this country, and so airtickets must be purchased immediately.

To book your flight: contact Laurel at: lspottl@aol.com. Call her at  805 5853721 direct.  We carefully researched  the best price, shortest route and most comfortable airline!

Cost of the two week all incl journey: $ 2,895.00

All local meals, transport and entry fees.  Not included drinks, tips, visa fee and international airfare.

For details and full itinerary email Maggie@easeintoyoga.com.

     A photographer’s heaven, we will experience sunset and   sunrise in spectacular  places.




Meditate in the temples, participate in prayerful practices or simply enjoy the wonder evoked by the place.





And in the end:  Seize the Day!

Summer Yoga Day at La Casa de Maria

Summer Yoga Day at La Casa de Maria

 La Casa de Maria

Saturday July 28th 2012 from 9.15am to 4.00 pm

You are invited to join me for the day at this lovely 28 acres verdant land, snuggled into the mountainside of Montecito, for yoga, meditation, mindfulness and singing!  Yes, Stella is coming with her gift of song. She will, after the delicious lunch, lead us in opening our voices to chant some ancient mantras together. This will be both fun and liberating, especially for those of us, who, like me,  have doubts about our capacity to belt out a good song.

This is the 11th year that I host these events at La Casa de Maria. Yoga Retreat Days are always filled, and much enjoyed. Please sign up right away, so that you don’t miss out!  We will be in the Chapel this time, the perfect  space for cooling yoga,(for all levels) comfortable meditation and heart felt chanting.   We end the day with deep relaxation.

This is a day out of your routine to enjoy alone, or with a friend, communing with your spirit through yoga, nature and song.  By the way, La Casa has a pristine pool  available for our use during lunch break, should the day be hot.
Cost includes lunch $98 before July 14th. After that date, if still available space $ 108


Yoga days almost always sell out, so don’t miss out. Sign up now and benefit from the early bird price.

Get the early bird $98 by signing up before July 14th 2012. After that, if still place Cost is $108

Alternatively, please mail check to:Maggie Mellor 2553 Ciro Ave, Thousand Oaks, CA 91360.

For directions, please scroll down.




Directions: 101 North to San Ysidro Road. Turn right onto San Ysidro Road about 1 mile to East Valley Road (the second signal light) in the Montecito Upper Village. Right on East Valley Road about 2/10 mile to El Bosque Road. Left on El Bosque which ends at La Casa de Maria.  We are in The Chapel. Please park near the Office, or continue up the the one way road to park at the tennis courts. If you get lost, please call Maggie at 805 3908009.


Welcome to Ease into Yoga

Welcome to Ease into Yoga

May you be at ease in your body and your mind!

Like our lives, this website in a work in progress.

I invite you to browse and journey through the postings on this side.

For regular classes and upcoming events and yoga travel, please use the links on the right.
The pretty fractal image at the top your link to return home.

May you be filled with Loving Kindness.
May you be safe from inner and outer dangers.
May you be at ease in your body and your mind.
May you be at peace and happy!


A Day of Living Deeply at La Casa de Maria

A Day of Living Deeply at La Casa de Maria

Saturday November 5th 2011 9.00am to 4.00pm

Please join me for an entire day of  mindfulness. In community and within ourselves we hone the skills of living deeply. We talk, walk, breath, eat and practice chair yoga and silent meditation.

When we live deeply, we are aware of each moment as it happens. We feel life move through us. We practice the art of Mindfulness where we experience the body, thoughts and emotions with an attitude of open curiosity. This practice of mindfulness is sweeping our country and the world. It is a way of living that eases our suffering, and opens the door to joyful living, no matter what outer circumstances may constellate. Instead of knee-jerk reactions to outer events, we monitor our inner response and behave in the most appropriate way in each situation.

Our program includes some chair yoga, breath practices, seated meditation, walking meditation, mindful eating practice and a delicious lunch.  The labyrinth walk becomes a metaphor for our lives, walking the circuitous path in trust.

With plenty time to talk about our experience, we end the day with deep relaxation.

Go home relaxed, refreshed, renewed and more Present in your Life.

Yoga days almost always sell out, so don’t miss out. Sign up now and benefit from the early bird price.

Cost: $ 108. Get the early bird $98 by signing up before October 24th

Living Deeply Yoga Day
Living Deeply Yoga Day
Saturday November 5th. 9am - 4 pm. at La Casa De Maria, Santa Barbara "Early Bird" $98 before October 24th. After that $108 Sign up Now!
Available Qty: 16

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Soul Works: Creating Inner Security

Soul Works: Creating Inner Security

You are invited to join Paulette Dwyer and myself for the second Soul Works gathering. This is a forum for women in the second half of life: Sunday September 11,2011 at 1.00 – 3.00pm
September 11 is the tenth anniversary of a world-changing event. We choose this day to look inward at the changes within us, and to discover the hidden undermining forces that hold us back from full authentic expression of our uniqueness. Is there an inner terrorist? How do we cultivate inner security?
Using the tools of yoga, experiential processing, and the talking circle, we share what we know and what we learn from one another. The underlying paradigm of this work is that we are each enough. Yet we can grow to become more.
Wear comfortable clothing and bring yoga stuff.

Venue: Holistic Haven, 31139 Via Colina #205 WLV 91362
Cost: $25 by Sep 9th. $30 at door
Payment check to Paulette Dwyer: 2660 Townsgate Road # 730 WLV CA 91361
For more info call Paulette at 805 6608350
Email Maggie@easeintoyoga.com

Who are we?
Paulette Dwyer, Psychotherapist, Yoga Instructor (25 years),past owner of Westlake Yoga Studio, and Regional Manager of Westlake Village, YogaWorks, Wellness consultant, hiker, skier, closet karaoke singer.

Maggie Mellor, yoga teacher, world traveler, writer, grandma and mindfulness practitioner, delights in spending time with women talking about life.

A Mid-Summer’s Yoga Day

A Mid-Summer’s Yoga Day


Join me on Sunday August 7th  2011 for a Mid-Summer’s Yoga Day.

Casa de Maria


August is the hottest month.   La Casa de Maria is situated on a verdant hillside, with gentle ocean breezes caressing the air.  Join me for a cooling day at  this beautiful spiritual venue.  Our theme is the Practice of Mindfulness. Mindfulness is a revolution sweeping our land, and for that we can be grateful. The practice enhances everything we do, our jobs, our relationships, our entertainment and our pleasures. Buddha first taught this practice. Mindfulness creates a portal to contentment and happiness.  We learn to welcome each moment of our lives.  Come and be enriched on this gentle cooling yoga day. While gardening, cooking,  sitting at the computer or any activity that we do, Mindfulness  sharpens our capacity to be Present.

Our home for the day will be  the cool stone of the Terrace Room. We have available the pool, shady spots in Garden of Peace to be still or to journal. Our yoga and meditations will be oriented to being cool and awake.

Overview of the day: Yoga practice in the morning – no, not really challenging yoga, just the kind that takes you into your own silence, and allows your body to feel more open and free.  We talk about mindful living, honing down to the smallest details of what it means to fully present in the moment. We practice seated meditation.

Buffet style lunch of fresh salads and healing foods at the now famous Casa kitchen.  Optional swimming or journalling  during the lunch break.

In the afternoon we  take a Meditative  Chakra walk on the grounds, return to our cool Terrace Room for a talking circle and deepen our practice of Mindfulness.

Our day ends with a deep restorative yoga practice.

Go home relaxed, refreshed, renewed and more Present in your Life.

Yoga days almost always sell out, so don’t miss out.  Sign up now and benefit from the early bird price.

Cost: $ 108.   Get the early bird $98 by signing up before July 24th

Living Deeply Yoga Day
Living Deeply Yoga Day
Saturday November 5th. 9am - 4 pm. at La Casa De Maria, Santa Barbara "Early Bird" $98 before October 24th. After that $108 Sign up Now!
Available Qty: 16

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(If you want a massage on this day: Please call La Casa 805 9695031 when you arrive on site to schedule a masseuse between noon and 2 pm, or after the retreat which finishes at  4 pm. They will only take bookings at the office and you will need to pay beforehand by check or cash)


Food Glorious Raw Food!

Food Glorious Raw Food!

What are you Grateful for? Imagine being asked that by your server, as you sit down for a celebratory meal in a carefully chosen eatery!  We are celebrating Simone’s graduation from Berkeley University. We dine early to  allow time to walk to the ceremony.  At  4.30 in the afternoon,the place is well filled with a mother and toddler, several  groups of students, and our rather over-dressed party of four.  All the food is live, organic and vegan.  All that can possibly be locally grown is. I love all of that.
Oh what to chose, I want it all!  Raw or cooked? The menu reflects this primary decision by its lay-out, cooked on one side, and raw on the other.  Dishes have surprising names:

  • I am Cheerful, burgers made with sunflower seeds,
  • I am Sensational, a pesto pizza
  • I am Whole, a bowl of shredded kale and quinoa.

I settle for the I am Hopeful, a raw version of Pad Thai. It is truly heavenly!  Glancing around at the open kitchen, I watch the staff  mindfully pile up the plates, everyone  calm and focused. They have been hired for their willingness to prepare all the food with love and consciousness.     A thousand things spring to mind to be grateful for.  Just being here first of all, with dear ones, and, now, about to select from the most seductive  dessert menu a yogini could imagine.  No sugar or flour or dairy is used at all!  I am grateful for that. We share the I am Rapture, the strawberry shortcake and the I am Magnificent, the raw chocolate mouse.  Both dishes live up to their naming and are a most fitting crescendo to a symphonic meal of sheer delight.

As I check my make-up in the tiny bathroom, I look straight into the provocative question posted just above the mirror: “Do you know how beautiful you are?”  I take a deep breath and a moment of stillness, to allow that one in.  Yes, I am, and I am very grateful.

PS: Great news! Cafe Gratitude is now also in L.A.  Check it out!

South Africa safari is now filled.

South Africa safari is now filled.

The response to our invitation was so positive, we will undoubted do this journey again.  Please drop me an email, so I know that you are interested in the next journey.


Maggie and Chris Mellor invite you on an unforgettable journey to their former homeland.

September 22 to October 7th 2011

A cultural, historic, gourmet, scenic and transformative journey!

Chris and Maggie are now United States citizens, yet their hearts remain in the land where they shared so many years, and still have family and friends.  For scenery, cultural diversity and sheer excitement of seeing wildlife in the many game parks, South Africa is unparalleled;  We want to share that with you!


Itinerary  for our extraordinary trip to South Africa

Day 1: Saturday Sept 24 Arrive in Johannesburg early morning – check into lodge to freshen up and then visit   Cradle of Humankind, an extraordinary archeological site, near JHB.   This is a World Heritage Site and lays the history of humankind.  (Much revered by National Geographic!)) Early dinner and sleep at lodge. (L,D)
Day 2:  Sunday Sept 25. After a good nights sleep and hearty breakfast, we take local flight from nearby small airport to Durban (the now famous Kulula Air!)
From the brand new Shaka Zulu airport we drive two hours to the extraordinary private game,  Thula Thula .  Check into our luxury tented camp and take off on  our first game drive. Dine under African skies. This game park was chosen for its philosophy of socially and environmentally responsible life-style, promoting the best for all locals, animals and visitors.  Read more about it The Elephant Whisperer. Visit site at  www.thulathula.com (B,D)

Day 3: Monday Sep 26: After yoga and excellent breakfast , we are taken on a fully guided tour to Hluluwe – Umfolozi Game Park. This is wilderness as it always was. This is the historic land of the great chief Shaka.  Here we can see The Big Five. (B,L,D)
Day 4: Tuesday Sept 27:  Yoga and breakfast. Excursion to St Lucia Estuary  for day with picnic lunch, boat cruise to Hippo and crocodiles.  Return for afternoon game drive and dinner under stars. (B,L,D)
Day 5: Wednesday Sep 28  Bush walk and game drive – relaxing day at pool, with yoga in the shade. Time to integrate all we have done so far.  (Other options like cycling and other excursions  for those who don’t want to rest!) (B,L,D)
Day 6: Thursday Sep 29  Bush walk, breakfast, massage on your own verandah, yoga,  followed by lunch and game drive and 4 course gourmet dinner at Safari Lodge. (B,L,D)
Day 7: Friday Sep 30:  Yoga, breakfast,  bush walk. After lunch we go to an authentic  Zulu Village to meet traditional healer.    Evening dinner in boma. (B,L,D)

Day 8: Saturday October 1st: Bush walk, breakfast and transfer back to Durban airport.  We fly to Cape Town a 2 hour flight arriving early afternoon. Our descent into the Mother City should be spectacular.  Dominated by Table Mountain, this city is one of the most beautiful in the world!  We are lodged in a family run small hotel snuggled on the slopes of Table Mountain.  Dinner at an exciting new restaurant: Gold Museum, for a real African  vibe with drumming and all!  (B,D)

Sunday Day 9: We visit Robben Island former prison to political activists during the Apartheid Era. Our boat trip offers brilliant views of the city and takes us to the most famous prison cell in modern history.  Guides on this tour are former inmates, so delightful story-tellers.  Back on land, we drive a short way around Table Mountain for an elegant Lunch in Constantia, a verdant well-heeled suburb  (the Montecito of Cape Town,) under oak trees and enjoying the delights of Cape wines and food.  In the afternoon we head for Table Mountain taking the cable car up to enjoy a fantastic sunset.   Evening at the Waterfront.  This is a working harbor made visitor- welcoming with an array of shops, restaurants and street artists.  (B,L)

Day 10: After breakfast we set off for an  all-day Cape Penisula tour.  We see the topography that makes this place famous, and visit the old haunts of your hosts Maggie and Chris.   Stunning  views  all the way.  Lots of stops for exploration and photography.  Spectacular venue for lunch!  The penguin colony. Baboons on the roadside.  Safely home  to our lodgings, we freshen up and hit the waterfront for more exploration and (for those who like), shopping!   (B,L)

Day 11: After breakfast we take an historical heritage tour of Cape Town. The history of this country is everywhere to be seen. Lunch in town, cobbled streets, Green Market Square for informal trader shopping.  In the afternoon we have a   Cape Malay cooking demonstration.  (Malays are descendants of the slave trade that also colors the history here.) This cuisine is full of surprises, spices and delightful flavors.  You will go home ready to dazzle your friends with new culinary skills!  We explore museums, gardens  and  enjoy evening meal at Cape Malay restaurant. (B,L,D)


Day 12: After breakfast we check out our lodgings visit Kirstenbosch famous gardens before heading into the winelands of Franschoek.  Wine tastings and food.  Small villages, exquisite scenery and French Hugenout as well as Malay culture.   Our lodgings in the heart of this gourmet center of S Africa (Napa eat your heart out!) allow us to  freely wander the streets, museums, coffee shops and restaurants. Or chill out  at the hotel pool.  We dine in style. (B)

Day 13: After breakfast we visit a local village, have a picnic lunch at a very innovative wine estate Solms Delta. Here we will  see how far South Africa has integrated its painful past and is building a future that benefits all who live there.   In the afternoon you will be taken to Cape Town airport and head  the shortest route  back to USA. (B,L)


Day 14: Arrive in USA on Friday  October 8th

This will be a small group journey.   The itinerary has been carefully planned for you to experience the best of this land, just slightly off the main tourist route.  We have also avoided multi-national hotels and venues, and use eco and socially responsible  companies to host us.  The journey  will be personalized by your hosts, former residents of this country, who unashamedly are still deeply in love with all of it.  Please commit right away if you want to come. Oh, yes the yoga!  Daily at the safari camp, and then wherever space permits! We will circle  together often in conversation  to enrich our experience as we travel together.



International Air: currently $1700 return.  Book through Classic Travel to be on same, best priced, connected,shortest flight . Leave Thursday September 22 at 10.00pm, return Friday Oct 8th.

Includes all local transportation, both ground and air, all shared accommodations with breakfast and all scheduled entrances.  All meals are included, other than 1 lunch and 3 dinners in the Cape Town leg. (That is to allow for personal preferences in the gourmet centers.)

Not included:  Beverages with dinner and lunch, tips, personal insurance, laundry and shopping.

Does not include international air.
This will be an incredible journey.  Carpe Diem!

Namaste and love,  Maggie and Chris – AKA Soul Gypsies

Action steps:

1.       Email your response. YES

2.       Book your flight.   I highly recommend you book with Laurel at Classic Travel.  Tel: 805 585 3721  Email: LSottL@aol.com. She will get everyone on the same flight ensuring that you are picked up at JHB airport.  Please talk to her about your travel insurance as well.

If you are using airmiles, talk to me, to see where you can slot into the itinerary and adjust cost.

3.       Pay Deposit to Maggie.  Email Maggie for details.  Staggered for your convenience.


Southern tip of Cape

We meet him in the Bush!





Penguin beach along Peninsula Drive

Views forever from top of Table Mt

Wine tasting in Franschoek