October 6-9, 2015–The weather might have been cloudy but 97-year-old yoga master Tao Porchon-Lynch brought her special light to Slovenia speaking at an event (with me moderating), touring the area, teaching yoga classes and doing media interviews.
In 2012, I spent time in Slovenia speaking at the Young Executives Society (YES) Conference, as well as for the Sustainability Leadership and Inspiration Academy at the Faculty of Economics at the University (FELU) of Ljubljana. Read blog posting, and watch videos from that trip: Slovenia: Sustainability in Action and Women: Slovenia’s Untapped Resource. I fell in love with this Central European enclave and kept in touch with my hosts. I now consider them dear friends and they were gracious enough to host me and Tao this time.
We were busy from the moment we stepped foot in the capital city of Ljubljana. Matej Cer and Breda Bozic met us at the airport in an electric car supplied by AvantCar–a company Matej founded. He has been an evangelist of green mobility for over 12 years and Slovenia is the perfect home base. Tao loved this care for the environment since she says that nature is her “encyclopedia.” She also simply adored all of my friends and said that “the people in Slovenia are as beautiful as the nature around them.”
Ljubljana won the 2016 European Green Capital Award, given annually by the European Commission to cities that set an example of sustainable urban development best practices.
After checking in at the beautiful Hotel Slon in the heart of the city, we had a delicious (and healthy) lunch at Zvezda (translation is “Star”) and went exploring in an electric van–Tao in her leather pants and jacket, along with her high heels (of course!). As we were getting a tour of the city, we happened upon Nina Osenar–a famous actress and model from Slovenia who is also a yogi. She was in the middle of a photo shoot and stopped to greet Tao.
We then went to the YES offices and joined my other Slovenian friends Jan Pinteric, Til Lajovic and Anton Majhen, as well as other members of the YES team. The news outlet 24UR.com was already there ready to film Tao. I was falling asleep from jet lag and Tao perked up as the cameras went on! Read article and watch clip.
Although we were certainly tired by this point (even energizer bunny Tao), my friends kept us up so that “our biorhythms would synch” and we wouldn’t have jet lag the next day. I’m not sure that worked for me since I was up for another couple of hours answering emails from the United States. I think Tao, though, got right to sleep. They gave us separate rooms so we were not roommates as we have been on some trips.
After a wonderful night’s sleep and delectable breakfast at Hotel Slon, Day 2 in Ljubljana started off with an interview for The Good Life magazine. Instead of a photograph, an artist will do a painting of Tao for the article’s lead image. We’re looking forward to that!
Tao and I had a moment to relax at the cafe next to the hotel and then met my friends for lunch. All of the food was healthy and delicious–from the vegetarian butternut squash soup to pastries made with splet flour (even though it was not gluten-free, I appreciated the option). After our leisurely lunch, we headed to the Young Executives Society (YES) office. The Young Executives Society hosts coaching programs, workshops and events for up-and-coming entrepreneurs in Slovenia.
We joined one of their coaching sessions and I moderated an intimate discussion with Tao on her life and philosophy. The participants seemed to appreciate her perspective. In addition to her inspirational philosophy There Is Nothing You Cannot Do, she touched upon issues such as follow-through, procrastination and handling disappointments. Although she doesn’t call herself an “entrepreneur,” she certainly was one from the 1950s on. She was an early international film distributor and for 30 years published The Beverage Communicator, one of the first three wine newspapers in America. It was distributed in over 47 countries outside of the United States and Canada, and had advertisers from all over. That’s impressive for anyone–and extraordinary for a woman at that time! Learn more in Tao’s book.
Friends Matej Cer, Jan Pinteric, Til Lajovic, Breda Bozic, and Anton Majhen, and others were there at the YES office. Anton led the workshop and then received individual instruction from Tao on breathing and energy chakras–something he greatly appreciated as a psychotherapist and accomplished martial artist. He is highly respected and even trained the Special Forces!
In the lobby of Hotel Slon there was complimentary sparkling wine which Tao enjoyed as a respected wine connoisseur and a co-founder of the American Wine Society. She is looking forward to sharing her impressions of Slovenian wine in her next wine appreciation event in New York. After dinner, we topped off the evening with homemade ice cream from Vigo Ice Cream. With her love of high heels, wine and ice cream, Tao is indeed a modern yoga master!
On the 8th, after a morning at the Slovene Coast, we returned to Ljubljana in the early afternoon just in time to get a quick bite of food and freshen up for another media interview. We went up to the Presidential Suite at Hotel Slon with Jan Pinteric and Til Lajovic. Apparently, President Bill Clinton had stayed in the spacious townhouse-like home away from home.
The hotel’s general manager Gregor Jamnik was there to meet us, along with the interviewer. A former actress and model, Tao was ready as soon as the camera went on! They discussed yoga, vitality and her new autobiography, Dancing Light: The Spiritual Side of Being Through the Eyes of a Modern Yoga Master. Here is coverage from PlanetSiol.net. Gregor ordered some exquisite sparkling wine so Tao was in her element as a wine connoisseur. She was very interested in hearing about Slovenia’s wine region and is now excited about coming back to do a wine and yoga retreat. With a viticultural history that predates Roman influences, Slovenia boasts approximately 28,000 wineries with a predominant focus on white wines.
With about an hour or so to rest, we changed and were off for the evening’s big event hosted by the Young Executives Society (YES) and Mercedes. Tao and I have been doing a roadshow of sorts with the “Conversation with a Master” event. We’ve made it into a multimedia experience by incorporating a slideshow of images from Tao’s archives which illustrate her stories. Even though Tao is engaging on her own, it makes the conversation come alive even more. We’ve done similar events for hosts as diverse as the Harvard Business School Club of New York to the Jewish Community Center (JCC) Mid-Westchester in Scarsdale (U.S.). I even moderated a discussion on Tao’s life at the Pentagon (pre-slideshow) after she taught yoga to 90 Department of Defense personnel.
This event in Slovenia was well-attended and well-received. Afterwards there was a steady stream of people wanting to meet Tao and take pictures with her. All of our gracious hosts were there including Matej Cer, Jan Pinteric, Til Lajovic, Anton Majhen, Breda Bozic and others from AvantCar, Mercedes and the YES team. Here are some pictures from the trip