Join Us at Pt. Reyes Seashore, Sat. Sept. 27

Open Heart Safari presents:

Open Heart Safari – Pt. Reyes National Seashore.  Enjoy one of California’s wild and beautiful places with an open heart. Offered by Open Heart Safari leaders Tom Bennigson and Laura Paradise, the day is designed to help you slow down and touch into a place of reverence and awe in the presence of wildlife and the natural landscape. We hope the retreat-like feel of this daytrip, including time for quiet reflection, meditation, guided walks, and discussion, will deepen your experience of the land, the animals, and yourself.

Saturday, Sept. 27, 10:30 am – 6 pm
Cost: $30
$50 for two – so bring a friend!
Half price for alumni of one of our Africa trips.

Cost can be credited toward a future Africa trip with us.

Please bring your own lunch, and comfortable walking shoes.
We will meet at Pt. Reyes, but we can help facilitate car-pooling.
For details, RSVP to

Spotting a giraffe!

We have already spotted a giraffe in Lusaka! (Hint: it’s not real. But stay tuned, in a few days we will be seeing towers of giraffe live in the bush.) 


We have arrived!

Dirt roads, dusty air and gorgeous tomato red sunsets. Everywhere people are walking, often barefoot or in flip-flops. Every mode of transportation – from bicycles to cars, vans or buses, shuttling goods, from building materials to sacks of maize. Every roadside dotted with items for sale – mops, brooms, rakes, talk time, tires, hand-made bed frames and metal brassieres. 

Greetings from Lusaka, the capital of Zambia. We’re getting ready to welcome participants Open Heart Safari III. 

We’ve already spotted peacocks, guinea fowl and shetland ponies. And, as you will see in Laura’s post, we’ve spotted a make-believe giraffe!

Stay tuned for pictures from our African adventures!

(written by Laura while Tom busily makes phone calls to secure transport, confirm meetings and other assorted details)

Open Heart Safari – Pt. Reyes Postponed

We are sorry to announce that, for personal reasons, we need to postpone Open Heart Safari – Pt. Reyes, which had been scheduled for Sunday, May 18.  We hope to reschedule for some time in June.  Please stay tuned for updates.

This Thursday: Animal Rights, Human Rights

A special opportunity to see Unfair Game: The Politics of Poaching, a short documentary film about the impact of African game reserves and tourism on indigenous people, and meet with Emmy-nominated filmmaker John Antonelli.

Can wildlife conservation efforts go too far?  How about summary execution of suspected poachers without any judicial process?  Through the inspiring stories of two activists, Unfair Game explores the disastrous results when wildlife takes priority over indigenous people’s rights to land, due process, and life. The film also shows the positive potential when native people and animals are both valued and respected.

Thursday, April 24: 7:30-9:00 pm
3392 Adeline St., Berkeley, CA 94703 (near Ashby BART)

The Human Connection: Engaging Difference in Southern Africa—April 10

Spend an evening in conversation with Marc Tognotti of the Tikva Grassroots Empowerment Fund and Institute of the Commons.  Marc will share stories about his travels to meet with community groups and conservation activists in southern Africa.  Join Marc in reflecting on his experiences in remote African villages, encountering members of one of the world’s most isolated tribes in northern Namibia, and spending time in Zambian and Zimbabwean communities without running water, electricity, or tourists.  His theme will be making human connection across differences of culture, race, education and wealth, as he discusses his efforts to break through preconceptions that often get in the way of meaningful personal exchange … and friendship.

Thursday, April 10: 7:30-9:00pm
Two Hats Consulting
3392 Adeline St., Berkeley, CA 94703 (near Ashby BART)
Marc Tognotti, PhD, works as a consultant to government agencies and other organizations, designing and implementing participatory processes to help diverse stakeholders find agreement on complex issues.  He also serves as advisor to the southern Africa grantmaking program of the Tikva Grassroots Empowerment Fund, a small US-based foundation that seeks to partner with poor and disenfranchised communities around the world in their efforts to secure access to basic needs, and protect basic human rights. 
For more info, contact

IN LIKE A LION: Movement-Based Workshop

For those who can’t make it to Africa this summer, Open Heart Safari is pleased to present… 

A Movement-Based Workshop with Laura Paradise
Sunday, March 30: 2-4pm

Many of us are moved by animals.
Being in the presence of wild animals may stir the wild animal inside us.
We may have identified an animal ally or sense a kinship to specific animals.
Or, we may want to cultivate a greater sense of our own animal spirit.

“March comes in like a lion,” they say.  What better time to explore your relationship to some of Africa’s animals and touch your own animal spirit?  In Like a Lion is a studio-based event that integrates movement, play on two- and four-legs, sound, and drawing.  We will use the pulse and sounds of the African bush and the movements of African wildlife as the context for connecting with our own aliveness. 

Sunday March 30, 2-4 pm
East Bay Dance Center, 1318 Glenfield, Oakland
Suggested donation $20
To reserve your spot, email

Laura Paradise is a certified life coach who facilitates personal and professional growth with a unique approach that draws on expressive arts and Authentic Movement. With her husband Tom, she has been co-leading Open Heart Safari to Zambia for the past three years. 

“I still feel taller, more confident and quite peaceful from our movement session.”

“The movement workshop was very healing to me. The exercises that we did were enlightening and motivated me to take action. Since then, I’ve been stepping away, stepping out and stepping it up a notch.”

The best way to travel to Africa is with an Open Heart!
Join us to learn what touches you.
Please like us, share us, etc. on facebook:

Open Heart Safari Spring Events

In our third year of bringing folk to the animal wildness of Africa, Open Heart Safari is now bringing the animal wildness of Africa home to Oakland/Berkeley, CA.

Mark your calendar for our spring events:

Sunday, March 30, 2-4pm: In Like a Lion.  Led by Laura Paradise, this workshop uses movement, drawing, and other expressive arts to connect with your animal energies, and experience the pulse and spirit of Africa.

Thursday, April 10, 7:30-9pm: Engaging Difference in Southern Africa.  Marc Tognotti, Program Officer of Tikva Grassroots Empowerment Fund, speaks about his recent travels in Zimbabwe and Zambia to meet with community groups and conservation activists, and lessons learned.

Thursday, April 24, 7-9pm: Unfair Game: The Politics of Poaching.  Viewing and discussion of short documentary exploring the ongoing conflict between white conservationists and indigenous people in Africa.

Sunday, May 18, all day: Open Heart Safari – Pt. Reyes.  Open your heart to the wildlife in our own backyard on a daytrip to beautiful Pt. Reyes National Seashore in Marin.  We’ll be featuring Open Heart practices to deepen your experience of the land, animals, and yourself.

For more information, email, or check back for postings about individual events.


Safari snapshots – up close and personal!

You don’t need your binoculars or camera … yet! Please join us for up close and personal highlights from our trip to Zambia and Botswana last summer, and a preview of the itinerary for Open Heart Safari 2014. Yes, we did track lions by foot and we saw lions just 100 feet from our hut. Yes, we did see a family of elephants walking along the riverbank in the moonlight. Yes, we did miss stepping on a black mozambique spitting cobra and yes, we did have a guide who pointed out the dangerous snake when it was safely on the other side of the path. Yes, we did meditate and do yoga in the company of baboons, ellies and guinea fowl. And, yes we will be doing the trip again. Our first events are in Berkeley November 3 from 4:30-6 pm and November 14 from 7-8:30 pm.

Email for more information.

think about it!


Open Heart, Happy Spine!

Not many people return from a sixteen-day safari (and 30 hour flight) to Africa and get a clear bill of health from the chiropractor. But I did! As the yoga teacher of the Open Heart safari, I integrate easy, restorative yoga into our schedule as an antidote to the happy but somewhat long hours spent in jeeps in pursuit of amazing wildlife. The yoga time is customized to individual needs. I always include poses that strengthen the legs and loosen the pelvis; and add poses that mimic the animals we’re seeing.

Warrior pose is perfect for getting us to connect to the land and our bodies. It reminds us that the wild animals have their feet firmly planted, which makes all the difference when they have to spring into action.

Warrior Pose

Lion’s breath is a favorite for loosening the low back. It’s fun to let out a humorous guttural roar and get the chance to stick our tongues out at each other!

Lion's breath!

We also do made-up poses: pretending we’re elephants walking with low hanging trunks, monkeys playfully squatting and then stealing something to eat, and giraffes standing with legs splayed slowing moving the neck to the ground’s surface to get a drink of water.

Maybe next year we’ll create a series of safari poses!