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!

Welcoming us!

When was the last time a group of adults was eagerly invited into a 9th grade classroom? Well, when we walked into the class at Kawaza Village, the students enthusiastically invited us to sit down and study with them. They were ready to learn and some asked us to test them in preparation for their qualifying exams. Most of the students I talked to seemed to favor math as they think it’s a subject that will help them gain employment. My sense is they also truly enjoy things quantitative. But, when they asked me to test my metal with trigonometry, I quickly offered Tom as a substitute. I’m glad to say he got the right answer!

What makes it Open Hearted?

Many people who go on safari learn about wildlife and habitat. But the people on the Open Heart Safari learn about local people and community. Most of us don’t really think about the fact that the animals AND the villages were there before the national parks and game reserves were created. And, yes, people and animals co-existed and people also relied on wild game for food. Truth is that hasn’t changed in many areas of Africa. What’s different is that foreigners came in, designated park reserves and evicted local villagers. They also turned game hunting into a sport, one with various prices depending on the type of game you want to hunt; and it became expensive for local people to hunt traditional foods. In Zambia, community people have control over the land on the perimeter of the national parks. They collect a share of hunting fees to cover costs of basic needs: schools, water and small income generating activities. Safari goers learn about poaching and habitat management but they never learn about the communities or the villagers who lost their homes. For me, knowing that game feeds hungry families gives new perspective about what happens when people impose national parks and hunting restrictions.

Sable antelope

Male sable antelope, Kafue N. Park

I think the sable antelope may be the most beautiful of the many species of African antelope we’ve seen.  They’re seldom seen–they’re quite shy, and not so common.  We saw two good-size herds.

The photo again is courtesy of trip participant Jean Bruno.

Cool wildlife in Zambia

Male leopard, S. Luangwa Nat'l Park


Male lion, S. Luangwa


Lioness, Kafue Nat'l Park, by river bank


These photos were taken by Jean Bruno, one of our Open Heart Safari participants this year, who heard about it from her friend, whose husband and daughter came last year.  I’m sure the only reason her photos are so much better than mine is that she has a shiny new camera.  

More pics and stories to come soon (I hope).

South Luangwa Bound!

Why Zambia, you ask? South Luangwa National Park, not to mention that Zambia is the home of the walking safari and some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. Who wouldn’t want to track a lion on foot knowing that the guide is keeping you at a safe distance? And what about seeing the belly print of a crocodile (so much better than seeing the croc up close and all too personal?!). 

Take a look at this link for a preview of our where we’ll be starting our bush trekking.

We’re sighting species already!

Open Heart Safari had an unofficial start at Walker Creek Ranch in Petaluma. The environmental education center was the perfect place to attune our eyes to the subtle browns and greens of the African landscape and discern the movement of turkeys, deer, coyote and rabbits. Stay tuned for postings with more exotics when we have our official start on July 17!

We still have space left for our July trip to Zambia!

We are still looking for a few kindred spirits to share a truly special journey with us this July 17-31.  (Optional Botswana extension: July 31-Aug. 2.)

THIS IS NO ORDINARY SAFARI. We experience remote natural areas. We spend time in rural and urban communities. We meet with community groups and conservation activists. We learn about how national parks affect local people and how community folk are getting involved in wildlife conservation. We do yoga and meditation, just enough to take care of our bodies and be present for the amazing landscape, animals and people. We deepen our experience through regular group sharing circles. And we have fun! 

We choose Zambia for our safari, because it offers amazing wildlife without the crowds, as well as welcoming people, superior wildlife guides, and walking safaris. (Not to mention spectacular Victoria Falls.)


Three Slideshows in Bay Area Next Week!


We’re planning a banner week of 3 slideshows in 5 days, including our first ever showing in the North Bay, and what will probably our only showing this year in SF.


I hope you can join us to see some of the amazing wildlife, landscapes, and culture that Zambia has to offer, see pictures of our incredible Open Heart Safari last August, and learn more about our unique trip coming up July 17-31 (with optional Botswana extension July 31-Aug. 2).  

Open Heart Safari takes you to some of the densest wildlife areas in the world, where you can experience close up the amazing lions, leopard
s, elephants, buffalo, giraffe, zebra, antelope, etc. of Africa, as well as literally hundreds of species of birds.  Our trip is unlike the typical safari experience where you are surrounded by crowds of other tourists–we go to remote natural areas.  And we get out of the vehicle to track animals on foot.  And we spend meaningful time with rural and urban communities, meet inspirational leaders working for conservation and social justice, and visit spectacular Victoria Falls.  And we do it all in a small group, opening to the incredible experience with frequent short simple meditation, yoga, and group sharing circles.


San Francisco–Sun., Apr. 7, 4:30-6:00pm
Private home near Pacific Heights
RSVP for address to tom[at]


Marin–Mon., Apr. 8, 6:30-8:00pm
Coaches Training Inst.
4000 Civic Center Dr., Ste. 500 (5th floor)
San Rafael, CA 94903
RSVP for directions (it’s a little tricky) to tom[at]
Berkeley–Thurs., Apr. 11, 7:30-9:00pm
Private home near N. Berkeley BART
RSVP for address to tom[at]


Hope to see you there.  And please invite your friends!