Creator of Abhaya Yoga
NYSY Academy Director
Co-founder Zen Rocks & Avocado Café
Bachelor’s of Science–Aeronautics
Master of Arts–Theater Arts & Film
Yoga Alliance 500 hours, BASIPilates™
Vivi is a strong and charismatic Yoga teacher and educator. In Greece she is known as “the teacher of teachers in the yoga path.” Having taught in the traditions of Ashtanga, Anusara, and Vinyasa Yoga, Vivi finally created Abhaya Yoga—a style that combines dynamic asana with strong alignment, flow, and an empowering transformational philosophy rooted in Tantra and Buddhism. It is her greatest joy to share this path with others, acting as a mirror for people to discover and embody their power, beauty, and hidden talents. Through Yoga and the intimate environment of a training, Vivi loves to witness this catalytic prosses at work, where the individual and the team are mutually uplifted.
A visionary and activist for positive change, Vivi returned to her homeland, Greece, in 2004 with a strong impetus to effect positive change through building enlightening communities. In her life and work she has been trying to integrate Yoga, Zen, and Tantric Philosophy, the spiritual paths she has sought to combine for over 20 years, while a filmmaker in California.
Through her journey of teaching and practicing Yoga, Pilates, and meditation, Vivi has been able to find a way of practice that makes us strong in all levels and helps us to triumph even in challenging circumstances. Amidst the Greek economic crises, Vivi and her beloved husband, Eraj, have managed to create successfully: NYSY Academy for Yoga and Pilates, and Avocado Vegetarian Café—two bright centers in the heart of Athens. Recently they completed another life-long dream, building Zen Rocks, a stunningly beautiful retreat center in Mani/Southern Greece, dedicated to maximizing our human potential through the healing practices of Zen, Yoga, Tantric meditation, nutrition, permaculture, and restorative living.
The Abhaya Yoga Tree of Yoga Studies was inspired by the sturdy olive trees surrounding Zen Rocks. Studying these trees, she invites practitioners to discover their seed desire or dream–their iccha, to root deeply in their power through yoga practice, and establish a strong trunk for teaching before they branch out to expand and reach their full potential as teachers, communicators, and strong human beings.
Teaching Pilates was a later discovery for Vivi, but she fell in love with the practice, especially through the approach of BASI Pilates. Now she incorporates Pilates core exercises to all her classes and teacher training programs.
Vivi’s passion for a brave and upright way of being in the world is contagious. Hundreds of bright yogis and yoga teachers have emerged from her workshops and teacher training programs, now spreading their unique light and making our whole planet brighter!
Teamwork: Our Working Philosophy
Vivi’s gift and passion is to bring excellent talented teachers, artists, and participants together to create opportunities for good working projects, deeper practice, and growth. In California she founded the first Ethnic Dance School with dances from around the world, the San Jose Kinisi Worldance Center, in 1987, and produced Ethnic Dance Festivals and Carnival events for the city of San Jose, raising awareness and appreciation for ethnic arts/dance to the dry silicon valley area. In San Francisco she worked as the director of the Latin Mission Theater, La Mission, and produced/directed several plays, films, documentaries, like the award winning political documentary, “Hidden in Plain Sight” featuring Noam Chomsky, and the feature film “Skeleton Woman” among others. “The spirit of teamwork is what leaves positive traces behind, once a project vanishes in past tense,” says Vivi about all this experience.
Through the years with the amazing team of NYSY they have organized successful Yoga and Pilates Conferences, Festivals, in Athens, and Yoga-Pilates-Meditation retreats all over the Greek islands and now at Zen Rocks in Mani.
Vivi shares: The motto of our NYSY, Avocado, and Zen Rocks team is: «Oμάδα όχι Μονάδα» meaning that we work as a team not as an individual unit. Our goal is to be a great support for each other in our common dream to bring more beauty and happiness unto our world.
Discovering yoga in the 80s, Vivi feels immense gratitude for her first teacher Kali Ray who illuminated the path of Tri-Yoga, a beautiful flowing vinyasa style of yoga. Ashtanga was the next discovery with senior teacher, Tim Miller, being a true inspiration in dynamic practice. Having the good fortune to study with many inspirational yoga teachers, she is blessed to have heard the simply powerful words of her beloved teacher and friend, Rusty Wells: “Be Kind, Be Love!” and to be taught the grace of Bhakti Vinyasa Flow through the many teacher training courses they have offered jointly in Greece.
Vivi was been greatly motivated by such vibrant teachers as Anusara’s Desiree Rumbaugh, who stands firmly for what she believes: “Love is Stronger than fear.” Vivi’s deep knowledge of precise structural alignment and therapeutics is largely attributed to her practice in Anusara yoga, and her erstwhile teacher, John Friend. Vivi was the first certified Anusara Yoga teacher in Greece, pioneering a new way of therapeutic practice in her native land. She is eternally grateful to her yoga sister and mentor, Sue Elkind, of Dig Yoga, for sharing her wisdom for “walking the walk, and talking the talk” in today’s yoga business and ethics. With Sue she studied also pre-natal yoga, and yoga therapeutics with Sue and her husband, Naime Jezzeny of Dig.
Another exceptional teacher and friend on the path has been the wise Ayurvedic therapist and educator, Arun Deva of Rasayana. Together they have led retreats to India and offered Ayurveda training courses at NYSY in Athens, and retreats in Mani at Zen Rocks.
Vivi is grateful for all these new and old friendships with great teachers and sincere practitioners. It is her joy to invite great minds and spirits to NYSY and Zen Rocks and to share their light, compassion, wisdom and love with the Greek and international community of seekers and practitioners.
Through the path of Abhaya Yoga Vivi loves to uplift and empower people so they can embody their full potential.
Her two favorite mottos:
“If you are ready for positive change, your life will change positively.”
“Empowerment through Yoga. Experience it. Teach it. ”
For over 30 years, Vivi has followed her zen teacher Tenshin Reb Anderson, in meditation retreats at the San Francisco Zen Center , and marveled at the clarity and luminosity of his teachings. Had she been a better zen student she would have been enlightened by now, but not wanting to miss the opportunity of studying with this rare master, she keeps staring at a blank white wall and trying to open her ears and heart to the Buddhist teachings on wisdom, compassion, and interbeing. Reb, meanwhile, keeps giving away the secret to Enlightenment: “it is the way we help each other; the intricate way through which we are all inter-connected.” Vivi’s gratitude also goes to her long time Zen comrade Bernd Bender, of Akazienzendo, in Berlin, who has invested so much in sharing his compassionate Zen practice with fellow meditators in Greece. And to Koten Roshi from Saikenji Temple, in Japan, who generously shares his Zen wisdom with the Greek community around the Athens Zen Center.
Tantric Philosophy & Meditation
After years and years of meditation Vivi discovered in the powerful pithy teachings of her teacher, Sally Kempton, an immediate experiential path, a shortcut to enlightenment…
In Tantric philosophy “everything is a play of consciousness,” and to recognize that this auspicious power of divine awareness imbues every instance and particle of life is simply liberating. To study it through the ancient scriptures of Tantra the way that Sally illuminates their meaning is a rare gift; and to fully embody their meaning through the Tantric meditation techniques that Sally imparts with deep wisdom and eloquence is no less than miraculous.
With great joy Vivi shares her understanding of this uplifting philosophy any chance she can.
Vivi’s training in Pilates includes studies with the Physical Mind Institute, Ellie Herman Pilates, and BASI Pilates, a system she has grown to love and teach with great enthusiasm. She teaches classes and privates, and incorporates BASI Pilates exercises in every yoga class. It is a great affirmation to see students grow healthy, aligned, and supported by a strong core. Vivi believes that the key to good Pilates is good training. Forming a strong partnership with Rael Isacowitz and BASI Pilates back in 2006, and establishing the first BASI base in Europe, Vivi and NYSY Academy have spearheaded BASI Pilates Teachers Courses with great diligence and the highest educational standards in Greece for over 15 years now.
Over 500 excellent BASI Pilates instructors have graduated from these programs and have gone on to establish solid Pilates careers locally and internationally.
It has been a joy for Vivi, to see the team of teachers & administration at NYSY & BASI growing harmoniously to support each other and the global Pilates community.
Vivi also spearheaded the annual Athens Pilates Symposium, a fun, experiential, and highly educational international Pilates conference, one of the first and most successful in Europe.
Looking into the future, Vivi and her team are embarking on a new effort:
Organizing the “New Era Pilates Summit” slated to open the curtains to a new Pilates vision in the spring 2021.