About me

Kathi Wogrolly

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I still couldn’t fly!

I first came into contact with yoga when I was 12 years old. Returning from a business trip, my father brought with him a book about yoga… I was immediately enthralled, on the cover was – as I now know – a Sadhu – almost completely naked and seated in lotus pose. Somehow, I was magically attracted to this book and soon after I understood why: inside were many things bordering on magic and sorcery; stuff about breathing techniques and elevation (flying!!!). I tried it out straight away, sitting cross-legged, calm, beginning with breathing exercises and meditation. Actually an opposite approach, to that common in the West today, where one starts off with Hatha Yoga (i.e. physical yoga)… After a few minutes, I gave up disappointed. I still couldn’t fly …

Some personal notes – what drives me?

I have a very pronounced “helper-gene“. I enjoy helping people and am always the first to shout “HERE!” when it comes to standing up for someone or simply being there. Family, a healthy lifestyle and fairness are all very important to me. All of these values are also meaningful in yoga. My family comprises predominantly teachers and doctors… My father, also a teacher, said, “You can be anything you want – just please don’t become a teacher!” “You will have a lot of responsibility and stress and be poorly paid.” He was very happy when I ended up in advertising and the media … not for long, however, as later on I did indeed become a teacher, a yoga teacher. He was doubly right, I have a lot of responsibility now – not only for my students but also for my employees and, hey, it won’t come as any surprise to learn that you don‘t become rich as a yoga teacher.

Yoga works! I have experienced this first hand. Regular yoga practice has an altogether positive effect on wellbeing and inner balance, reduces stress and supports one’s health. I myself have a chronic illness that got much better as a result of yoga, and my immune system is stronger than ever – despite having three children, I am hardly ever ill.

Education and biography

Mag. Katharina Wogrolly studied journalism, psychology and theater studies at the University of Vienna, thereafter working in several media companies, advertising and internet agencies. Kathi moved to New York in 2002, where she worked in business development for a Swiss company and first got to know Bikram Yoga. Shortly afterwards, Kathi completed Teacher Training and then opened the Bikram Yoga College Vienna.

Kathi is a yoga teacher with more than 15 years of experience and has completed many training courses and further studies in the field of body work and yoga, for example Vinyasa and Hatha Yoga with Jimmy Barkan, Bryan Kest, Sherie van den Wijngard and Dev Kapil. Numerous workshops and advanced training courses such as fascia yoga, children’s yoga, pregnancy yoga, yoga therapy, Reiki and spiral dynamics round off her expertise. Kathi works with her students in both groups and individual sessions. She teaches in and heads the Yoga College Vienna. Kathi is married and has three children.

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From university to the daily newspaper to radio and finally to New York

Many years later, I had just started studying medicine, was working in two jobs on the side, and was no wallflower when it came to parties – I came to believe that a little more peace and balance in my life just might not hurt. So I sought out a yoga class in my fitness center (at that time there were hardly any yoga studios in Vienna and very few yoga teachers). I can still remember my first, quite extraordinary, yoga teacher. She had a long ponytail, a very loud voice and was really more akin to an aerobics trainer, who had incorporated a yoga book into her class. Nevertheless, I enjoyed those candlelit hours on a Sunday evening. Later on, I tried Ashtanga Yoga, which was simply not the ideal match for my fairly inflexible beginner‘s body. A few more years had to pass before I really fell into yoga…

In the meantime, I had stopped studying medicine (I simply didn’t have the necessary staying power, although my interest in the human body and the “helping” aspect remained) so I enrolled in communication, marketing and psychology at the University of Vienna. Soon finishing my studies, I continued to work a lot on the side: with Der Standard, the Austrian Stock Exchange and at every trade fair that I could.

I started working in an advertising agency, the sensation at the time: an Internet agency. Although not as you know it today — back then there was neither Google, YouTube nor Facebook! We ‘invented’ something like eBay – it was called “onetwosold” and was the first Austrian online auction house. I also had a couple of other customers to look after, including the Vereinigte Bühnen Wien (“Vienna Stage Union”) and Spar. It was truly exciting to perform such pioneering work for the first time, and to support many companies in their efforts to go online. Then came a switch to Radio Energy in Sales, where I could live out my creativity with customer events. But then it hit me, or rather, shall we say, a handsome young Kärntner caught my eye. He lived in New York as a photographer and I, blinded by love, gave up my job in Vienna, rented out my apartment and followed him to his teeny-weeny apartment in Soho. This first time in New York was probably one of the most exciting and inspiring of my life. Of course, I couldn’t get a good job without a work permit, so I worked at night in a hip French club on the Upper East Side, spending my days strolling through New York or at the public library, where I researched my doctoral thesis. Through my boyfriend, I met a man who worked for a large record label (the labels were still quite big then). He was – I thought – quite old, but seemed outrageously young and good-looking. He was also very happy and funny… When I asked him how he did it, his answer was short and succinct: “Bikram Yoga”. I had no idea what that was, so he explained, and we agreed that he would take me along with him soon.

First time sweating like crazy and immediately hooked!

I still remember my first Bikram Yoga class very well. It was in a small, filthy studio in downtown Manhattan. We went down a few steps into a kind of basement and changed in micro-changing rooms, then had to go up a perilous spiral staircase to a tiny, crammed (mat-to-mat) hot room. Old mirrors from a dance studio leaned against the walls, which were dirty-gray and, although there was a window, it did not lead outside but was covered, with a slightly decrepit fan slowly turning… I felt like I was in Angel Heart and was just waiting for Robert de Niro (aka Louis Cyphre) to appear and explain to me that I had now arrived in hell!!! It seemed to me inhumanly hot and humid and my glasses fogged up immediately… I squeezed myself in somewhere and we got started. How I got through those first 90 minutes – back then it was taught very differently – I can no longer exactly say. Only that I was quite amazed that I couldn’t, for example, balance on one leg or lean to the side in a straight line… The teacher explained everything very precisely, telling us (in an almost condescending “idiot-proof” voice), what to do. For me, it worked (from

my Ashtanga and Fitness Center yoga experience, I was used to receiving only the names of postures and very few instructions). I was able to switch off my brain, as the heat and excitement made it in any case impossible to think for myself… So yes, it was totally exhausting and I had never done anything like it before.

As for the feeling after class – it was simply indescribable!!! I was walking on air, felt warm and had a bright pink glow on my cheeks! I was immediately hooked, and straight away I began looking for a yoga studio a little closer to my apartment and a bit less grimy. I discovered what I was looking for in the immediate vicinity of our apartment in Soho, nonetheless the yoga room was tiny with smelly, damp carpeting. There were no showers, just a communal changing room (a small box, like an H&M changing cubicle, where 10 jackets were already hanging). Even though I didn’t have high expectations, it was a little on the Spartan side, but nonetheless very “yoga” (ha ha!). No comparison to our beautiful Yoga College with its many showers and plenty of space in both the yoga room and the cloakroom. Not to worry. It was important for me to practise, not to be in a spa.

Although time and love eventually moved on, I stayed in New York, taking a great job with a Swiss company. Again, I was doing pioneering work – I set up the New York Office, where we developed something along the lines of today’s apps, but at a time when there were no smartphones. The technology was rather poor and we were probably too early. Around that time, we also developed a kind of Shazam (music recognition) software, also a good 4 years ahead (and thus way too early).

Yoga teacher out of the blue

After a while I wanted to go home to my family and friends. I put out my feelers and soon got a great job offer in Vienna. However, I hadn’t planned on heading directly homewards, so on the advice of my friend Ali, I registered for Bikram Yoga teacher training. Somehow I also had to spend my hard-earned money from New York. By that time, I had already practised intensively (four-six times a week) for one and a half years, as well as completing a 30 day challenge. I asked the studio owner – Otto Cedeno – who wrote me a letter of recommendation and, hooray! I was admitted! At that time, in the beginning of the millenium, there were hardly any (or very few) yoga studios or teachers in Europe, so my whole family was hard against it and appalled that I might squander my studies to become a yoga teacher … or maybe that I might be getting involved with a sect!?? Thank God, that wasn’t the case. My experiences in Bikram Yoga training in Los Angeles (at the old Bikram Yoga College Headquarters on La Cienega) are worthy of their own story! Maybe one day I’ll even write a blog about it.

So la la… after that everything was clear to me, Vienna deserved its own Bikram Yoga Studio! I was now ready for more pioneering work. After teacher training, I stayed in Los Angeles for almost a year, where I gained my first teaching experience in various yoga studios and the Bikram Yoga Headquarters. I remain endlessly grateful for the mentoring of my friend and teacher Paola Borgonovo. I taught my first classes in Paola‘s own studio in Redondo Beach.

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