Later that very first day of the Festival, Karl, a fellow yoga instructor from the US, and I shared a chairlift up the mountain to the Gampen “hut” / restaurant, one of the venues for our yoga classes. I found out that Arizona-born Karl now calls Switzerland his home, so his commute to the Mountain Yoga Festival was a lot shorter than mine coming from New York.
10 yoga teachers from all over the world gathered in St. Anton for the Festival that year, joined by several hiking and nature guides, and experts from fields like nutrition, sports, music, herbology, you name it. Both Karl and I had been teaching yoga for a significant number of years, but being here, in the Austrian Alps, teaching yoga, this felt different and new and exciting, as if unlocking a secret treasure that had been hiding in plain sight. The swinging of the chair and buzzing sound of the chairlift turn-around pulled us right out of our contemplations and here we were, at the Gampen hut, ready to teach our first classes.
Each year, the venues for the classes are carefully sought out, ranging from huts and mountain restaurants to outdoor decks and outdoor spaces, flat mountain meadows or the finishing arena of a world cup ski run, but also include indoor spaces at the Arlberg Wellness Center, the town hall, the local school, and hotels, for when the weather does not cooperate.