Harika Saylam '01 leads LAS student yoga retreat

Harika’s Post-Graduate Years
Following her graduation at LAS, Harika Saylam ’01 studied at the University of Richmond, Virginia, where she completed an undergraduate degree in economics and art history. From there, she followed her expected path in a finance job in New York City, but found herself bored and restless. Remembering her fondness for watching her aunt, a professional dancer, dance throughout her childhood, Harika decided to try dancing for the first time as a new pastime. Almost immediately, she realized that she’d discovered a new passion.

Leaving New York for Paris, Harika achieved a masters in Economics at Sorbonne University before working at HSBC bank. Finding her job at HSBC underwhelming, she decided it was finally time to return home to Turkey after a full decade of being away. There, she got married and had her first child. 

Returning to Her Dancing Roots
In getting back to herself after giving birth, Harika returned to dancing and never looked back. She danced through two more pregnancies, and ultimately became a popular dance and yoga teacher. Together with a friend, she started TapasBarre, now a well-known yoga and dance studio in Turkey offering in person and virtual classes in addition to retreats, which she now runs with a team of five women.

Giving Back
Recently, Harika wrote a book in English called A Journey to the Paradise of the Birds, inspired by the mythical Iranian bird. All the income from the book goes to support refugees. She hopes one day soon to choreograph a dance based on the book and turn it into a professional performance. Visitors to the LAS Savoy Library can check out her book on our shelves.

An LAS-TapasBarre Yoga Retreat
In April 2022, a group of LAS students had the tremendous opportunity to attend a Yoga Retreat led by Harika herself here in Switzerland, on Lake Thun. During the retreat, Harika introduced students to the basic tenets of yoga, including breathwork, asanas (poses) and mindfulness.

The students were delighted by the fun of trying out AcroYoga, a challenging practice which involves sets of partners creating poses together. Harika's yoga workshop forms part of a long-standing LAS tradition of tapping into our alumni network to create outstanding learning opportunities for our students. We can't wait for more alumni-student projects, workshops and retreats in the future!