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

 

Spiritual Technology

Spiritual Technology

It doesn’t matter what you may use, to keep reminding yourself to stay Conscious.   I have this  solar powered prayer wheel on the dashboard of my car.  As the sun rises it begins to turn.  The Tibetan Mantra Om Mani Padme Hum are inscribed on the wheel, and while I drive, it makes a subtle turning sound.

Recently I drove behind a truck that had a variety of stickers with slogans that are counter to the slogans I might choose.  For example, the Peace sign sticker had a circle with fighter bombers inside it, with the message Peace the Traditional Way – implying that force is the way.  Aaaarg!  I find myself in argument with the driver of the truck, who I have never met, and I discover a rising anger towards him.  Then I hear the subtle turning of my prayer wheel, and see the sun shine on its golden color: Ha, now the mantra comes into my Awareness. My thoughts shift away from  judgments and self-righteous ideas, back to a place of openness and freedom.  As soon as I realized where my mind was taking me, what story I was telling myself, I just laughed out loud and felt immediately free!

Driving with this reminder, keeps my mental/emotional body in check.  When the monkey mind wanders off down some well-worn pathway, we can be pulled back.  This is of course a spiritual muscle that needs strengthening, just as much as the physical body needs that.

I got my solar powered prayer wheel in Bhutan!  Saw it, and HAD to have it. I believe there are only 3 of them in our town.  If your desire nature has suddenly sky-rocketed,  shop at Amazon!

Hands in the Dirt

Hands in the Dirt

Oh the joys of spring, renewal, and another chance.  I am repotting the bamboo.  Having been advised by many gardening friends that bamboo should not go into my backyard, as it will take over, I have kept it in pots, which together, form a nice, moveable hedge.  Dividing it every year into new pots, means my hedge is growing.  Plant abundance, a joy that every gardener knows.

I ponder the qualities of bamboo – fast-growing, flexible, and very resilient  to the force of wind.  Bending wildly in gale force winds,  bamboo resumes its tall stately shape when the storm has passed.  Bamboo is hollow on the inside of its thick stem.  The small leaves are lovely in their drooping angles and cross overs.   Bamboo has endless uses: the shoots are delicious food for people and panda bears, the stems form excellent building materials for homes, furniture and tools. Bamboo flutes transform  the human breathe into the sweetest sounds.  Nowadays we even wear clothing soft and comfortable, made from bamboo.  What’s more, throughout China bamboo is considered Lucky.

Dividing the roots is not always easy.  There has to be some surgery, sharp tools to separate the deeply entangled roots tucked into the now too-small pot.  Where exactly to tear and cut for minimal damage?   I recall The Secret Life of Plants, a book read some 30 years ago, of how plants are in  relationship with the environment.  I speak sweetly the bamboo, reassuring it that all is well, the pain of separating and relocating  is brief, compared with the ease and space of the new container.  Is the plant really screaming, I wonder?  I tuck it in with new soil and a dose of Vitamin B1, rescue remedy for plant trauma!

I want to be like bamboo:  growing fast, (in consciousness, thank you, not in my body!) flexible, able to constantly adjust and adapt to the strong forces around me,  to sing my note and, oh, yes,  I’d like to be really useful too.

Yoga Day in Montecito

Yoga Day in Montecito

Free your Body Free your Mind


~ “Freedom is not given to us by anyone; we have to cultivate it ourselves. It is a daily practice… No one can prevent you from being aware of each step you take or each breath in and breath out.” ~ Thich Nhat Hahn


Casa de Maria

Join me on Saturday April 23rd 2011 for a Yoga Day.   Casa de Maria is one of the most beautiful spiritual venues that I know, and in spring, it is at its best! What’s more, it is just south of Santa Barbara.  I do several retreat days a year, and this venue is always so popular.  This spring, Jim Dreaver joins me.  He has written a book called end your Story. Begin your Life.  In it he describes how to free ourselves from upsets, emotional challenges, in fact how to free ourselves from suffering.  I am so enjoying Jim’s teaching and skills at facilitating this learning.

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.

Buffet style lunch at the now famous Casa kitchen.

Meditative walk through the grounds.

Jim leads the afternoon session in an interactive and meditative way.  You will love it!

We end with a deep relaxation and visualization.


More about the day and how to sign up

You are Light seeing through 5 Veils.

You are Light seeing through 5 Veils.

Did you know you are a soul living in a body?

Did you know your soul, (Atman in Sanskrit) is veiled by 5 sheaths?

Did you know your soul is currently having a human experience?

That is quite different to trying to live a life that is more spiritual. We already are Spirit, yet often we forget.

This forgetting, say the ancient yogis,  is the cause of a lot of trouble for us in life.

Simply put, let’s  try to remember this:

You are Light, Soul, Consciousness, Spirit, Self, Atman, Brahman.

Your light shines through 5 veils or koshas.

Anamayakosha is the Food Body, Pranamayakosha is the Energy Body, Manomayakosha is the Mental/emotional body,  Vijnanamayakosha is consciousness and Anandamayakosha is the Bliss body.  All of them need to be tended to live a whole and integrated life, and to evolve our consciousness back to recognizing who we truly are. We are the Light.

Sanskrit breakdown:  Each of the 5 layers include the words maya(veil) and kosha(sheath).

Ana – food  maya – veil – kosha – sheath

Prana – energy – maya – veil – kosha –sheath

Mano – mind/emotional – maya – veil – kosha –sheath

Vijnana – knowledge/consciousness – – maya – veil – kosha –sheath

Ananda – Bliss – maya – veil – kosha –sheath

To follow: How to tend all the layers of our Being.

One Giant Leap in Ubud

One Giant Leap in Ubud

It is unbearably hot and noisy in Ubud.  We trudge the uneven pavements, impeded by parked cars.  This charming cultural center of Bali, was not built for traffic.  I could tell my husband Chris has had enough, as we plop down on shady steps of the Arma Museum Gardens.  Finally we are rid of the pesky unsolicited Balinese guide, who insisted we should hire his friend as driver tomorrow, and that his father was responsible for the one painting I was really enthusiastic about.  Finally a cool breeze kisses our sweaty brows. No more fumes and noise.  Little stream, garden, statues, modern art.

“All I want is a day off” grumbles my husband.

“Hmm” I wonder to myself, “what do you call this then?”

I love all of our experiences in Ubud: rice fields, interesting shops, temples with offerings, tropical fruit and jaffle for breakfast at our guesthouse, the Yoga Barn situated right on a rice field, coffee and FaceBooking from our laptop at Pundi-Pundi, and exploring the gorgeous silks at The Silk Barn.  Admittedly walking the crowded streets, getting from placed to place is very uncomfortable.

“What will cheer him up?” I ponder.

He gives me a clue:

“Did you notice those scooters are four-stroke? Much less noise and pollution than the old 2-stroke!”

No, I had not noticed.

“We should get one to get around”, he says.

My stomach contracts.  Now I feel some fear. I remember riding a motor bike in Bali 35 years ago.  A small slip, exhaust burn on my inner leg, which became infected with a tropical bug which took months to heal.  I still have a faint scar!

“Yes, darling, let’s research that. Tomorrow.”  I bite my bottom lip and agonize at the thought of hanging on the back of a tiny two-wheeler. Balinese are typically much smaller than the two of us.

We leave the serene museum grounds and almost get killed crossing the road.  Traffic comes from everywhere, especially at the most inauspicious place we choose.

Right next door to Buddha’s and Silks, my destination, we see the fateful signs “Money Change and Bike Rental”.  I escape into the opulent silk store avoiding the glint in my husband’s eye.

I return without any purchases.

“Would you be comfortable on the back of one of these with me?” my very considerate husband asks. He is sitting astride the tiny bike, his long legs in straddle pose.

Now what, tell the truth or fake it?   30 years of marriage feels at stake.  That is why we are in Bali in the first place, to celebrate our longevity as a couple. I look away and watch a foreigner teeter on her bicycle on the other side of the crazily busy road.  There is a screaming in my head.

My voice tentative and small:  “Sure . That might be fun darling, let’s try it”

His face lights up. Soon we have negotiated an excellent deal $5 a day .  A quick lesson on where everything is, simply handing over the passport number, no need for license, no need for helmets, I take a photo of my very tall husband on a very small scooter.  Hilarious.

I hang on,on the back.  Soon we are in the river of traffic, dodging, yielding and flowing.

Oh, this is fun. We are both happy!   He is an excellent driver. I am comfortable enough to pull out the little camera and capture the terrain as it races by. The friendly Balinese are smiling at us.

“Darling, I whisper in his ear “It is not only because we are so big – we are also so old!”

It is a giant leap: from Fear to Fun.

Yoga Shakti in Bali

Yoga Shakti in Bali

Yoga Shakti in Bali

Click the link above to view what happened:

In Ubud Bali, at the Elephant Cave Temple, is a Chinese man with his pet python.

Always one to try something new and kinda scary, I took the python from him.

Chris filmed in in slo-mo, serendipitously.

The four us, serpent, Chinaman, me and camera, form a trancey dance.

Thanks also to the lovely soundtrack: Close to Silence by Thomas Otto.

I love his exalted  contralto!

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!

Namaste

Retirement in Bhutan

Retirement in Bhutan

In terms of lifestyle, old age  here in the Himalayas has very little resemblance to that stage of life  in the west, particularly California.  In the Himalayas it is widely believed that this time is to be spent in spiritual activity, to gain merit and to direct every thought, word and deed towards a better lifetime next time around.

Our yoga group visited the Queens’ Memorial Chorten, a major landmark in the main city of Bhutan, Thimphu.

I joined a group of crones sitting in a circle chanting and swirling prayer wheels. and they delighted in teaching me the local version of the well-know Buddhist mantra Om Mani Padme Hum.  They corrected my pronunciation with peals of toothless laughter. I couldn’t noticed an empty  bottle of the other spirit kind, tucked away under my new sister’s skirt. These women are in their final years, know it, and are doing what they believe is right: spending time gathering merit. One of the ladies urgently tries to tell me something.  “What is she saying?” I ask Rinchen, our guide.  “She says, ‘next lifetime we will surely meet again as friends.”  I am so touched, and wonder will our next life will  be here in Bhutan or at Retirement Village in the States.Check out the movie! Maggie learns the Mantra in Bhutan

A Great Confluence

A Great Confluence

All the elements are here: the confluence of two rivers, wind propelled prayers, a beautiful earth  and sunlight.

In Bhutan, we are 12 yogis leaning out the bus window, to capture this lovely spot, this beautiful moment.  The  chortens are from Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan, a confluence of different shapes, different yet neighboring cultures, offering the same reminder of the sacred that pervades everything.

Is not every moment a great confluence of past, present and future expanding into an eternal Now?