How did you end up living in Asia?
After graduating from high school in Innsbruck I moved to Florida, where I studied on a full athletic tennis scholarship. And then I did an international management degree in New York and worked at the New York Plaza hotel as a VIP manager – taking care of Hollywood stars and royalty. It was a very exciting time but ultimately quite a shallow lifestyle.
Then a friend invited me to go to Bali and spontaneously I decided to go – it really did feel like fate. I immediately felt a very strong connection to Asia, I was very attracted to the lifestyle and the nature. I married a New Zealander and had two daughters
How did you get into yoga and wellness?
My children suffered from asthma, so I started getting into nutrition, alternative medicines and yoga. I was born with scoliosis, and playing tennis made it worse. After having my daughters I was in such pain – back and hip pain – that I couldn’t sit or stand comfortably. A friend invited me to go on a week’s yoga retreat and I realised this was the answer for me – I needed to reform my body. It was a long and painful journey but I also discovered the spiritual practise, meditation and chanting.
What’s it been like returning to Austria after so many years away?
It is very, very different to Bali – yet on the human level it’s the same. I did have mixed feelings coming to Vienna and I felt like some difficult experiences were being thrown at me as an initiation. My business partner still runs our yoga and wellness agency in Bali – which coordinates yoga teachers and alternative therapists.
Starting a business in Vienna has been relatively straightforward, the Economic Chambers (Wirtschaftskammer) has been very supportive. They even run courses on how to start a business – the Gründer Service. Now I just have to have faith that it will work. The costs of renting the space and paying the teachers are high but our team is exceptionally wonderful and I feel so blessed to work with them. I envision Bali Yoga Wien to be like a beehive, very busy, with people flowing in and out, providing the nectar that nourishes them.
What do you want to achieve with your business?
Creating a community is a really important aspect of it. We live in a world of isolation, addiction, loneliness and stress. It’s the connections with each other, it’s through helping each other and looking for less selfish ways to live that we will survive.
This is something I learnt in Bali, which is a less individualistic culture. There is no word in Balinese for privacy, people don’t close doors, and they are never alone. I want to be able to teach yoga in a way that goes beyond the asana, the physical postures. I also teach meditation programmes for people struggling with addiction, and long term I’d love to have a yoga cafe with in-house therapists.
What do you enjoy about being back in Vienna?
I like the climate here. I really enjoy experiencing the four seasons, and I don’t mind the cold. I also love how clean Vienna, and Austria is. The water from the tap is amazing, and the crime rate is very low. People take care of the environment here, and there isn’t a lot of poverty or homelessness. Also, there really isn’t a lot of traffic in Vienna – not compared to Bangkok or Bali.
The Bali Yoga Wien studio.
Bali Yoga Wien is at Gußhausstraße 2, 1040 Vienna.