We spoke with the incredible interesting Tamara about her journey – from studying in Italy, living in Croatia’s capital, building businesses and living her dream between Yoga retreats and lifestyle on the beautiful Adriatic coast.
Find out more about Tamara’s courageous story!
Tamara, you have a very interesting professional background. Tell us about yourself!
I fell in love with Italian cuisine in 1987. when I got my first summer job in Florence as a private chef for Countess Emo. It was simple cooking, yet a challenge for a teenager, and I felt honoured.
Only two years later, I enrolled at University in Italy and graduated in literature and languages in 1997. And yes, when I wasn’t studying, I was in the kitchen improving my cooking skills, and Italian cuisine remained the main upgrade to my Dalmatian food style.
Nowadays, whenever possible, means mostly at home, I tend to be as much a sustainable plant food eater, often visiting my parents’ garden. Nutrition is a complex civilisation issue not applicable to one rule for all of us.
After the Italian episode, I had suffered from homesickness, so I moved back to Croatia after graduation and started teaching languages in different schools. Still, soon I got offered a position in marketing and promotion of macrobiotic and healthy living at Makronova in Zagreb, nowadays Bio Bio shops, as I was into healthy living and a vegetarian for a while. Moreover, I have already discovered Yoga, and I fell in love with that practice, on and off the mat.
After almost a decade of mainly working in marketing and media production and television, growing in confidence, I needed a challenge and founded catering with a friend in 2010, the crisis year.
I have followed my passion for food, my silent hobby. We soon were busy feeding international movie shooting crews everywhere in Croatia. It was a bit of nomadic life on wheels. I still enjoy being engaged in intensive shooting projects on our coast. We had recently wrapped a shooting month in Dubrovnik.
While living in Zagreb, I always wanted to go back to living by sea and start a new project that celebrates Dalmatian beauty and lifestyle, pure nature, and good simple food. So a seed for Yoga Hrvatska was planted far back in 2009 while I was still busy in Zagreb.
Years later, COVID came, and it was the moment to move. The good thing is, like many of us, it pushed me toward pursuing a career dream that crept into my mind.
Finally, though, I left my life in the Croatian capital and moved back to my beautiful sunny hometown of Split. This was the best decision I have made. I’ve felt like I’m back in my twenties when I lived here, only a bit upgraded with better software.
What attracted you to Yoga?
Starting Yoga over 25 years ago, I was looking to simply sharpen my body skills. But, with time, I realised that Yoga is so much more than asana. It’s about finding peace to live an authentic and balanced life.
Your relationship with yoga changes throughout life, bringing new unfoldings aligned with where you are in the moment. My first decade with Yoga was intensive; I primarily was a fervid studio visitor and regular practitioner. I was enchanted with the good feeling that being on the mat brings.
Then it came family time, and my daughter took all my love and time. Classic story, juggling between work and home, and my daughter overtook time for deep and routined practice.
On the doorsteps of my middle age, I romantically daydreamt about what I had left unfinished. As my daughter became more independent and COVID came, I decided to adventure toward my inner intentions.
I’ve collected different yoga experiences through the years and was eager to dig deeper into Yoga and explore where Yoga is today. I enrolled in Teacher training in Portugal, a great yoga destination, where I had a fantastic month of learning and exploration.
Today Yoga helps me get back to myself; it’s a daily session of breathing and meditation primarily, with asana whenever I have time. I like to go to Mint studio for a group practice that is so precious, although Yoga is work you do with yourself.
I enjoy doing beach yoga, and Split city is ideal almost year long. I have my small morning group sessions with Split locals and ex-pat Yogini. I like to say that Yoga is not about complicated poses; it’s a practice of gratitude, kindness and awakening.
How did you decide to start this project?
While living in Zagreb, and needing more sun, sea and air in my daily routine I daydreamed of my future life on the coast. The COVID crisis just facilitated my steps on the journey to a new life adventure.
Yoga Hrvatska brings together my passion for Dalmatia, my inherent desire for healthy food and living, and my devotion to offline yoga practice.
I spent the most joyful years of my life on these islands, where I invite those in love the Mediterranean and Yoga to join us. Our coast offers the perfect set-up for any soul looking for body-mind renewal in deep connection with nature and a friendly like-minded community in the present moment.
We are a young team with a few yearly boutique retreats and lots of experience in event organisation. Our life reflects our mission. Therefore, join our excellent offline gatherings for your body and soul.
Dwell in gratitude
Let your intention guide you
Live a balanced life
Surrender to a higher power
What have you noticed about tourists visiting Croatia?
Croatia’s leading hook for the new-coming tourist wave is our nature, from the green continent to the numerous luscious island and still intact nature where you still encounter ‘idyllic’ life as once were. However, it doesn’t exclude the harmful impact of the tourist crowds due to a ‘bucket list destination’ attribute that Croatia has lately.
Croatia is at its peak, investing a significant amount in infrastructure and improvements on service levels, from accommodations to nature preservation. And naturally, there is infinite space for improvement.
Croatian legislation and institutions should learn from other Mediterranean countries and the harmful consequences of incorrect destination development and poor management. Continuous efforts should be made to defend the landscape of inappropriate investments that ignore sustainability requirements.
In recent years, the coast, especially the Split area, has become a digital nomad destination spicing up the liveliness of this tourist centre throughout the year. Many reasons are why all generations find the Split city attractive to live in all year, especially out of season periods. Dalmatia offers high quality of life conditions such as optimal urban services with fantastic climate and the combination of sea and sun, quality food and convivial dalmatian street life.
‘Fjaka’ is the best word to describe the spirit of Dalmatian life; a kind of Nirvana state perceived as supreme in collective imagery. ‘Pomalo…’ – Slow down way of living is visible everywhere, but not in summer, where it is quite busy for my taste.
During COVID restrictions Split was an oasis of semi-normal life, becoming the top destination among North European travellers.
Along the rich and versatile Croatian coast, even the pickiest tourist is able to find their favourite experience in Istra, Zadar, Šibenik, Split, Dubrovnik and Plitvice lakes, and hundreds of small-town gems anywhere they go.
We still stand far behind other EU tourist leaders in rural tourism or yoga vacations. However, as trends are commanding, the Croatian tourist board and government is to support rural tourism through loans and subsidies. All agree that there is a huge potential there, so it will be interesting to see how Croatia will position itself in this travel niche.
Who are you partnering with, and how does the concept work?
I could say that, if all goes well, my long-term vision is a private retreat centre in Dalmatia. Still, meanwhile, I’m handpicking locations ideal for yoga retreats available in Dalmatia that can comply with the basic features needed for such a vacation.
Mainly I’m doing all management and operative work, supported by Anna and Nick from @hashtagcontentagency, related to the digital aspect. Each retreat is unique in its synergy of teacher style and location specifics.
For a yoga retreat to happen, perfect venues are in peaceful nature and in the vicinity of interesting cultural and natural content. A max 4 star **** rating with intelligent design, indoor and outdoor covered space for practice, and a sustainable approach in management. Of course, some improvisation is possible, but this is a booklet description.
There are fantastic venues in the Dalmatia region, down to Korčula and Dubrovnik. Still, the most annoying issue with accommodation is the absence of twin beds in villas, considering that a typical retreat participant comes as a single person and wants to share the room space with a future friend.
On the other hand, Portugal, Spain or Greece destinations famous for retreats have all rooms equipped with double or twin bed options. So this sort of minor adjustment in the sense of investment could be a kick-off in many cases.
For example, a beautiful complex of Istrian rustic villas with only 3 twin bedrooms and 12 gorgeous sexy double bedrooms means fitting 18 Yoginis instead of a max 30.
I have also talked to a few American Yogini stars whose retreats have attracted 50 participants. Unfortunately, we don’t have such a wide range of choices of venues in this case. Nevertheless, further local development of more varied yoga venues will depend on private enterprise rather than a national tourist strategy.
My focus is to promote Dalmatia as a retreat location, which might mean fewer possibilities than Istria, which has constantly been advancing in trends.