Ute is a daughter of a mining engineer, born in Saarbruecken and grew up in Saltzgitter and Essen in Germany. She was always the rebellious type and since young age dreamt of living a wilder and more adventurous life. Inspired by her globetrotting father, her desire to leave was so strong that she went to uni, saved up from student jobs and left her homeland to explore the world. She spent her youth travelling around the world before settling down to an unconventional but fruitful and sustainable life in India, where she founded an eco resort focused on yoga, meditation and Ayurveda. Her views on ecology and sustainability later also extended She is also to Ayam Organics clothes supporting organic cotton production in India. Ecology and sustainability have been been the essence of her life.
Travelled the world
Initially, her travels took her to Thailand, Japan, U.S and Mexico as she searched for her calling and looked for companionship. She ended up for the first time in India, in the 80s, to follow the famous guru Osho and spent time visiting his ashrams and interacting with his disciples in various countries. After having passed through countless locations and having tried her hand at many vocations, finally her passion for wilderness and hospitality management mixed with a love for nature and freedom emerged into projects that had a distinct character forged from her experiences and her convictions.
A firm believer in ecology and sustainability
A firm believer in renewable energy, waste management and activism to preserve the beauty of Goa, she is also an advocate of a healthy lifestyle for the body and the mind. From Ayurveda to Yoga, organic products are used in her resort as much as availability permits.
In Yucatan, supervising a tropical resort had a huge impact on Ute, who went in search of her own piece of land after gaining the necessary experience. India, compared to the places she visited, was still raw and untouched especially in South Goa.
Eco resort, eco clothes, eco lifestyle
That’s how “Ayam” was born, to enhance the tranquility and benefits of yoga and naturopathy with the elegance of clothes that allow the skin to breathe and provide a greater freedom of movement. The products are all made of pure organically grown cotton and are all designed to augment the health and wellness benefits already provided by yoga. Ecology and sustainability being the founding pillars.
In Palolem, with her ex-husband, she started Bhakti Kutir as well as being introduced to the joys and challenges of motherhood. Using natural and noble materials, they created an environment where medicinal plants and herbs coexisted with banana and coconut trees to surround guests as well as her three lovely children with peaceful relaxing vibes.
How did the concept of creating Yoga clothes enter your mind?
Actually, I see them as casual and comfortable clothes suitable for yoga also.The whole idea of needing special clothes to practice Asanas was unknown in India.
One day, after speaking with one of my British Yoga friends about her difficulty to find the sort of tights she really liked in organic quality, the idea of Ayam emerged, and with the help of a Yoga practicing fashion designer in Goa, the brand was born.
Do you practice Yoga yourself?
I have started doing yoga committedly only fairly recently.
Before that I practiced yoga occasionally with various teachers, but one needs to find the teacher and type of yoga which are right for oneself.
With Sunita Singh and Hatha yoga I feel we are going back to the basics, bringing oxygen and consciousness to various parts of the body, creating space in and between the lungs and other organs.
Thus, from practicing sporadically, my schedule has now become a daily healthy routine as her easy teaching provide the best benefits for my body and mind.
Why are organically grown products so important to you?
We are systematically poisoning our planet and everything on it including ourselves. Destroying our surroundings and driving our co-habitants of this planet to extinction through our self-centeredness are unforgivable crimes in my book, and for our own sakes and everything around us, we need to stop doing it.
Cotton is grown on 2.5% of the planet’s agricultural land, but consumes 16% of global insecticides. Long lasting cotton garments (or other natural fibers) also serve to reduce the amount of plastic microfibers from clothes ending up in the oceans and inside the marine species.
How does using organically grown cotton enhance the yoga experience?
You cannot be good to yourself without simultaneously being good to everything and everybody around you.
On a physical level, a big part of yoga is about bringing more oxygen into your cells. Having the skin, which absorbs oxygen from the atmosphere, covered by clothes which contain toxic residues, does not make any sense.
What has living in a Jungle resort taught you?
One very important factor for me is the idea of coexistence.
If we want the other species to survive our terrible dominance, among many other bigger changes, we have to be willing to make some small sacrifices in order to allow a little bit of space around us, in which other species can coexist with us. Having meadows instead of sterile lawns, or in Bhakti Kutir, our resort in Goa, having to clean up monkey and bat shit from the paved areas in the mornings, are small beginnings, and a small price to pay for the joy we feel watching them live their lives in the trees above our heads.