Yoga

Caribbean Culture and Yoga Retreat: May 20 – 28, 2017

Join us in the beautiful Dominican Republic for a week of yoga and cultural immersion. Start each day with a yoga, meditation and mindfulness practice followed by fun on the beach and exploring the country as a local. Bring your friends or come solo, all ages and experience levels are welcome!

Give yourself the opportunity to create deeper connections with your mind, body and spirit in an open and relaxed environment. Learn simple practices that you can incorporate in your daily routine to live a mindful and purposeful life.

We will stay at Natura Cabana, a beautiful eco-lodge and spa, located directly on the beach and nearby the heart of downtown Cabarete.

This culture and yoga retreat is organized by Uta, a certified yoga instructor with experience in organizing tours in the Dominican Republic. Beyond her love for yoga, Uta’s knowledge of local customs, nuances and logistics will make this experience memorable.

What’s included:

  • 8 night stay at Natura Cabana boutique hotel and spa (breakfast included)
  • Transportation to and from Puerto Plata airport (POP)
  • Transportation to organized activities
  • Daily yoga, meditation and mindfulness practice
  • Excursion to a local plantation (TBD coffee, fruit, cocoa, rum)
  • Local backcountry experience (river swim, escape in nature)
  • Salsa dance happy hour
  • 3 Dinners: welcome dinner, dinner at a local restaurant, goodbye dinner

Additional activities: Cabarete and Sosua offer various activities which you can engage in during the day: surfing, kitesurfing, windsurfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, zip-lining in a monkey jungle, jumping off hidden waterfalls, diving in underwater caves, swimming with dolphins, horseback riding

Tentative weekly schedule:

Saturday, May 20 Sunday, May 21 Monday, May 22 Tuesday, May 23 Wednesday, May 24 Thursday, May 25 Friday, May 26 Saturday, May 27 Sunday, May 28
Morning Arrive Yoga, meditation, mindfulness practice Yoga, meditation, mindfulness practice Yoga, meditation, mindfulness practice Yoga, meditation, mindfulness practice Yoga, meditation, mindfulness practice Yoga, meditation, mindfulness practice Yoga, meditation, mindfulness practice  Yoga, meditation, mindfulness practice
Breakfast Breakfast Breakfast Breakfast Breakfast Breakfast Breakfast Breakfast
Day Beach day Cabarete Beach Day Sosua Plantation visit Local backcountry experience  

 

Depart

Evening Light Yoga and Meditaion Welcome dinner Dinner at local restaurant Salsa dance lesson Goodbye dinner

 Retreat Investment*: Single Double
Sign up by Jan 31 $ 1979 $ 1599
Sign up by Feb 28 $ 2059 $ 1649
Sign up by March 31 $ 2129 $ 1799

*VAT not included. All other goods and services such as airfare, airport/visa fees, additional activities and spa services, bar drinks, food/drinks/incidental, travel insurance and gratuities will be charged separately.

Interested in sharing accommodations but don’t have a roommate yet? You can sign up for a double and we will make every effort to help find you a roommate of your gender. If a roommate cannot be found by the final payment date, the single occupancy rate will apply.

Space is limited, sign up today! 50% down payment due upon registration, final payment by March 31, 2017.

Questions? Contact Uta at utaopitz@hotmail.com

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Supporting “Yoga Gives Back”

Yoga has changed our lives. Not a day passes, that I am not grateful for the practice of yoga. When I learned about the nonprofit organization “Yoga Gives Back”, it was a no-brainer to sign up for their monthly donations. Their mission statement says:

Our mission is to express our gratitude for the gift of yoga by mobilizing the global yoga community to empower women and children in India to build sustainable livelihoods.

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Partially, the donations come from a group of friends who regularly find their way to the OM Home for our meditations. Yoga Gives Back began supporting micro credit programs in 2007. They lend small loans to women who are otherwise excluded from the conventional banking and financial systems. Today, YGB funds nearly 900 mothers and children with micro loan programseducation funds and scholarships for higher education in Karnataka and West Bengal. To learn more about Yoga Gives Back, check out their website.

Love, Uta

Mudras for Strength and Balance

It’s Holiday season, stores are overflowing, people are in a hurry to get all the food items or gifts they want to give to their loved ones. Some simple hand mudras (hand gestures) can help us in stressful situations. During a recent visit to Germany, I attended Satsang (a gathering) with Dechen Thurman at Jivamukti Yoga Berlin. He shared with us some stories about Sir Francis of Assisi, particularly from his book The Little Flowers of St. Francis, and we spent some time sitting in meditation with these two hand gestures, or “Mudras”.IMG_5207

Pran Mudra (Life Mudra)

You can see me holding the stabilizing and calming Pran Mudra. In her book Mudras: Yoga in Your Hands, Gertrud Hirschi says: “The Pran Mudra generally increases vitality, reduces fatigue and nervousness, and improves vision. It is also used against eye diseases. On the mental emotional level, it increases our staying power and assertiveness, healthy self-confidence, gives us the courage to start something new, and the strength to see things through.”

Simply place the tips of thumb, ring finger and little finger together while keeping the other fingers extended. Hold for 5 to 30 Minutes as needed.

Kubera Mudra (Dedicated to Kubera, god of wealth)

Dechen is holding the Kubera Mudra, which will give inner repose, confidence and serenity. It is used to “put more force behind … plans for the future. It always involves goals that people want to reach, or wishes that they would like to have fulfilled.” It can be used when looking for a free parking space, the right gift, or necessary information.
This mudra also decongests the frontal sinuses, which can come in handy during winter time. The tip of your thumb, index and middle finger are placed together, while the other two fingers are bent.

If you are curious, I highly recommend Gertrud Hirschi’s Book Mudras: Yoga in Your Hands. Maybe it’s that Christmas gift, you were looking for…

Love, Uta

First OM Home retreat to Bhakti Fest

Yvonne, Troy & Uta at Bhakti Fest 2015

Yvonne, Troy & Uta at Bhakti Fest 2015

For the past five years I have been attending both Bhakti Fest in September and Shakti Fest in Spring. It has been my dream to share this extraordinary experience with people. For the first time, Troy was able to join me to the festival, and our friend Yvonne made her way to California from Germany, to join us on our ventures to the California desert.

Relaxing between yoga classes at main stage

Relaxing between yoga classes at main stage

 

Over the years, I have had the opportunity to take classes with most of the yoga teachers at the event, so this time I decided to dedicate most of my time to listening to Kirtan and chanting along. Yvonne and Troy explored some yoga classes with teachers they hadn’t met, such as a Kundalini class with Kia Miller and various workshops.

 

 

Chanting the Hanuman Chalisa with Tim Miller

Chanting the Hanuman Chalisa with Tim Miller

It was a privilege for me to assist in Tim Miller’s classes on Saturday and Sunday. Quite a big crowd of curious students found their way to the Ashtanga classes, although they most likely were the most challenging option on the schedule. In honor of Hanuman’s weekday Saturday, we chanted the Hanuman Chalisa together with the whole group of students. Message us to join us to one of the festivals in 2016!

Love, Uta

 

 

 

 

Bheemashakti Mandala in Prague:

11731777_10207588055678112_3226691048605948825_o49 Day Intensive with Troy 

Join Troy for a 49 day Mandala training of Bheemashakti Yoga in Prague from October 15th to December 2nd. Two 21 day cycles of daily practice, one week of rest between cycles. Message us for details!

 

Individual Retreats upon request

Just email us at info@theomhome.com or complete this form:

Finding abundance in the desert – Shakti Fest 2015

 

Karnamrita Dasi on stage

Karnamrita Dasi on stage

The Joshua Tree Retreat Center was filled with smiling faces who had ventured out to Shakti Fest in the High Desert last weekend to enjoy yoga, kirtan, workshops, healthy foods, and fabulous vendors. Shakti Fest is the springtime version of Bhakti Fest, which will take place in September. In the picture above, one of my favorite Kirtan artists, Karnamrita Dasi is teaching us some beautiful chants. Her magical voice always carries me to a higher realm. Check out her amazing album DASI Prayers by Women. I’m hoping for her new CD to be out, soon.

Shakti 2015 Uta & Sri

Uta with Sridhar Silberfein, Founder and Producer of Bhakti Fest

Here is a shot with the founder and producer of Bhakti Fest and Shakti Fest – Sridhar Silberfein, as we were enjoying the passionate music of a group of talented musicians who had gathered for a spontaneous kirtan. Thank you, Sridhar, for making these events happen! It was through Sridhar’s inspiration that I learned about Ram Dass and his brilliant works on life and spirituality. I will write more about my encounter with Ram Dass and his Guru in another post. Make sure you get a copy of Conversations with Ram Dass: Interviewed by Sridhar Silberfein. His insights into life that are revealed in the book are very inspirational – to say the least.

 

Shakti 2015 Uta & Mark Whitwell

Uta with Mark Whitwell

Mark Whitwell taught a lovely class, reminding us of the basics of any yoga practice – the combination of breath and movement. I highly recommend his book Yoga of Heart: The Healing Power of Intimate Connection.

You don’t want to miss Bhakti Fest in September – featuring headliners such as Krishna Das, Jai Uttal, DJ Drez, MC Yogi, Karnamrita Dasi and many other great artists. There will be fabulous yoga teachers such as Tim Miller, Shiva Rea and Mark Whitwell. Workshops with Radanath Swami, Krishna Das or Swami Chitananda might blow your mind. If you are traveling from afar, join The OM Home retreat surrounding the festival. Spend some time with Troy and me before and after the festival for yoga and an exploration of spiritual sites in San Diego and Encinitas. Space is limited, so be sure to reserve your spot. For more information click here or email us at info@theomhome.com.

Love, Uta

Yoga in Amsterdam – What Else?

In continuation of Troy’s last post I can tell you this much – he eventually made it to Germany and we had a lovely time visiting with family and friends. To make his return trip as smooth as possible, we had booked his ticket from Amsterdam, with high chances of making it on a flight for the U.S. We embarked on an eight hour train ride across Germany to reach the capital of the Netherlands. We arrived on a Tuesday afternoon, which would give us some time to explore the city before our departure on Thursday morning.

Since I was busy working, I had asked Troy to do some research on what to do, where to stay, and of course, where to practice yoga. He found a very nice Airbnb accommodation for us with a couple that was also practicing and teaching yoga. The Nataraja statue in the pictures on their site quickly convinced us that it was our kinda place. And of course the hosts were very pleasant and made us feel right at home with freshly made smoothies.

After our train ride we were ready for a yoga class. Among the many offerings, Troy had picked out Svaha Yoga in Jordaan for us to visit – mainly because their schedule announced the chanting of the Hanuman Chalisa on Tuesday evening after practice. I love the Chalisa and frequently chant it, and usually carry a pendant of Hanuman and Neem Karoli Baba around my neck.

2015 04 Svaha Yoga

When we arrived, I noticed the sign on the door to remove shoes – as usual in yoga studios – and decided to take of my shoes before entering from the street. It was to the utter surprise of Patrick, the director of the studio, who immediately asked if we had been to India since nobody ever actually removed their shoes until after they had entered. At the front desk we received the most friendly welcome I have ever received at a yoga studio. I noticed all the familiar images of saints and deities I like to hang out with around the studio. Class started, and Patrick led us through a sweet, yet no less invigorating practice. While we were resting in Shavasana he walked around and gave some of us a little adjustment. He noticed my necklace and after ending the class pointed out to me that he was wearing the same one. Hanuman – in the form of Troy – had once again led me just to the right place.

After chanting the Hanuman Chalisa with Patrick, Gösta and a small group of practitioners, we managed to convince the two directors of Svaha Yoga to pose for a picture with us. It was a lovely experience and we will be sure to visit again when back in Amsterdam. Or maybe at their new retreat center in Suriname, South America…

2015 04 Svaha Yoga 2

Upon Patrick’s invitation we returned for a practice the following morning and then made our way to the van Gogh museum to marvel at this tormented genius’s art. Our visit came to a close with a delicious home made vegetarian soup from our Airbnb host Bastian.

Bye voor nu!

Uta

Road Block (Part 1)

March 27, 2015

As I write this I am sitting at the JFK airport working on hour 36 of trying to catch a standby flight to Europe. The first few hours were smooth, but as time passes the difficulty of sitting and waiting grows. In situations like this the images and ideas of who am I and how I react to situations is challenged. Severely.

For someone who maintains a rigorous daily yoga practice and teaches several groups of students a week this should be easy, right? So much of what I teach my students and learn from my own practice is to cultivate a quiet gentleness in tight situations- “Don’t take it too seriously. It will pass in 5 breaths (300-100 in the Bheemashakti world).” So why is it so difficult to practice this when I’m away from the studio, sitting in a crowded airport?

The truth is that yoga is tough. Forget about binding Marichyasana D. What about keeping cool when all you want is to cash in a friend’s airline benefit and squeeze on an already crowded flight to meet up with your soul mate so you celebrate your 30th birthday in your favorite country (to date), but every single flight is oversold? How many breaths have passed in this last 36 hours? Guaranteed, some of them are going to be shallow, laborious, or even missing. And when my default reaction to life is to run away for a few hours and wiggle my way through some asana, there seems nowhere to run when I’m on the road. Sure I could roll out my mat and take a few Surya Namaskara, but I have a feeling that this isn’t the solution. Especially when I face a 7 hour flight packed in a tight middle row.

When I told Uta I was popping a Xanax yesterday she said, “what about some pranayama and meditation?” Ah yes, of course! But did it happen? No. I tried. Not that hard. But I could barely hear over all of the noisy, chattering thoughts in my head. At this point my adrenals are taxed from the rise and fall of anticipation every time the gate agents are ready to clear standby passengers.

Well last night I made it to New York from San Diego. I believe I am halfway to Germany. In lieu of fighting to wiggle on a flight to London and purchasing a $300 ticket to Frankfurt I decided to spend the night in a cheap New York city hotel and try again today. I certainly felt defeated at first but after some sleep and a nice day in the city I feel quite hopeful. In the time it took me to be beaten down by this whole experience and realize I AM NOT IN CONTROL, I have taken to reading “Loving Ganesh” (how I came across it is another story). In this text about all things related to the full figured elephant deity I felt it was time to abandon my own desires and put it all in His hands.

You see Ganesh resides in the Muladhara (root) chakra, home of all basic wants and desires. As I have learned from many yogic texts, podcasts, lectures, and my time at Vipassana, if we live in our desires, following the ebb and flow of craving and aversion we are taking a surefire route to suffering. After hour 18, suffering seems like a nice word. But is that where I am? Not being able to accept and sit in peace where I am at this very moment? So hey if there’s nothing else I can do but sit and wait, at least I can try to give Ganesh a call and see if He can pull any strings on my behalf.

As the remover of obstacles, Ganesh can also create obstacles to steer a devotee on the right path. So if jumping into a pool of sharks is what you want, Ganesh may crush your dreams and steer you toward a much safer option. And because we do not always understand the looming danger or karmic stirring on the other side of our desires, we can feel absolutely crushed when we are denied or restricted. I’m tired of feeling crushed and beaten. I just want to enjoy this trip so I’m leaving it up Him.

A benefit of spending the night in New York was that I was able to take a field trip to the Jivamukti Yoga School. I decided to take class, have some delicious food and wait until the next flight. After I paid and made may way into the classroom, behold!

Ganesh Ganesh

This could be coincidence but with all the contact I’ve tried to make with my new friend, I feel like I’ve been heard- loud and clear. More interesting was that the class itself was small- 3 students including myself. At first I thought, “wow this teacher must be new or not very good” but as the practice kicked in I realized this is exactly what I needed after being surrounded by cranky irritable people like myself- a refuge and a sanctuary away from all the craziness. And sequence of asana was exactly what I needed to decompress my spine, soften the shoulders and remember how to breathe.

At this point I still don’t know if I will make it onto this flight, but I’ve given Ganesh the keys and asked him to drive. Whatever happens I know that at least I am safe, have access to food, water, and a bathroom. And with a little faith and determination I look to the One-Tusked Wonder to pave a golden path to wherever it is that I am headed.

Yoga Ventures in Kauai 

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Uta & Troy with Taro Fields

Who wouldn’t want to spend a week in Hawaii? Not only did we visit one of the most beautiful islands of this world, we got to share the experience with a lovely group of people who came together for a week of yoga practice twice daily. Our friend Nicole spoiled us with her excellent vegan and vegetarian cooking skills. Check out her website Blissfully Conscious if you are looking for delicious vegan catering.

 

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Afternoon yoga practice with Angela

In his post Steady Rhythm, Deep Roots, Troy gave some insights into the routine of the retreat. Mornings and afternoons were filled with bheemashakti yoga and practice and meditation. During the days we had some time to explore the island. Kauai’s nature is breathtaking. Frequent rainfalls create a lush vegetation – and magical rainbows…

Since Hawaii is Troy’s birthplace, it was extra special to explore the island with him. He introduced me to delicious local foods and a visit to the Kauai Museum revealed some fascinating stories of Hawaiian history and culture.

 

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Uta, Ganesha & Troy in the Rudraksha Forest

The highlight of our excursions was a trip to the local Hindu monastery. We attended their Shiva Puja on the full moon. As Troy and I were sitting in meditation after the ceremony, the temple priest walked up to us and engaged us in an inspiring and insightful conversation about yoga and spirituality. We left with our hearts open and our eyes sparkling. On our way back to the retreat site, we paid a visit to the Rudraksha Forest. The seeds of these trees are auspicious in Hindu tradition. It is said the Rudraksha tree grew from a tear of Lord Shiva, and the beads are now used in malas (108 beads) for japa meditation (recitation of mantra or names of deities).

It was obvious – this won’t be our last visit to the islands. Message us, if you want to join one of our upcoming retreats to Hawaii!

Mahalo, Uta & Troy