A JOURNEY TO WELLNESS
Boris Lauser is our head chef at Vikasa Life Cafe and also runs his very own Vikasa Signature Retreat Thrive, a raw food and yoga retreat. To see Boris today, he is a picture of vibrant health, however, that wasn’t always the case for Boris. Growing up, Boris was plagued will illness and body challenges and his journey to health and vibrancy all started with one change he made to his diet.
Read on to learn more about Boris, his journey to raw food and yoga and what to expect in his upcoming Thrive retreat.
Where are you from?
I was born and grew up in Bad Wimpfen, Germany, a beautiful medieval small town in the South of Germany.
Food has always been an interest of mine. As a child, I was kept very homebound and overfed by my mom. She used food to show her love because she couldn’t give me the freedom I wanted for many reasons. As a result, I was quite overweight and felt uncomfortable in my body and as most overweight kids was bullied at school. I was also plagued with many chronic diseases, like heavy allergies and strong skin problems, in hindsight, probably a result of the food and psychosomatic issues. At the age of 16, something clicked and I needed to lose weight and break this cycle.
How did you become interested in food and wellness?
Through my brother, who once had a little phase of being interested in whole foods, I heard about Dr. Bruker, a German doctor who treated chronic diseases with a whole foods diet. He generally said that white flour, white sugar and processed milk products are the cause of many chronic diseases we see nowadays.
I stayed away from sugar for 1 year, lost 10 kilos, grew about 15cm taller and found myself in a completely different body with a different mindset. I swore that I would never want to go back again. That was basically the foundation for everything to come.
I started, vaguely following a healthier diet, simply by prioritizing certain foods that appeared healthier, calorie control mechanisms and continuing to avoid white flour and sugar, without ever being too dogmatic about it. I would always try everything, and still do. Quite naturally, I was already doing the 80/20 approach. During my time in Italy, where I used to live and work for 6 years, I really learned to discover my passion for food.
It was their awareness of quality, seasonality and generally their passion for food and how they could talk about it for hours that impressed and highly influenced me. Well, in fact, I caught myself talking non stop with everybody about food 🙂 I soon became a hobby cook and well known host amongst my friends that always enjoyed how I would just bring random people together and bonded friendships simply by sharing meals.
I also happened to have some close colleagues in yoga and found my way into it, on and off, without ever digging in too deep. I tried various styles like Ashtanga, Ayengar, Jivamukti and others and it helped me big times, healing from a broken back injury back in 2002. However, I still rather stayed on the surface when it came to meditation and breathwork and getting the complete picture.
Little did I know then, that this would change completely a few years later, after I discovered the teachings of Kosta and Vikasa.
It happened during a business trip in San Francisco in 2005 that I stumbled upon a Raw Food Restaurant called Cafe Gratitude. It was an amazing place, the people, the vibes, so happy, so full of energy, their eyes were glittering. And for me, the highlight: A huge display of cakes and even ice creams. A cheesecake and mint chip ice cream shake turned me upside down. All vegan, organic, gluten free, without processed sugars, exactly what I liked to eat, so delicious and flavorful, fun and sexy.
I knew immediately, this is something I need to learn more about. Shortly after, I found out about a program to become a raw chef at the Tree of Life in Arizona. Still, 3 years went down before I finally made my decision that office life wasn’t for me. I quit my job in 2008, moved to Berlin for a new start and did my first training to become a raw food chef and instructor at The Tree of Life.
How and when did you find Vikasa?
After my initial training in the USA, I started out in Germany with a pop up dinner club and soon found out about a yoga teacher training in Bali, called Radiantly Alive, that did 100% raw food catering during the YTT.
I first wanted to actually do a Teacher Training as an additional qualification, but couldn’t afford another education then. So it turned into a kitchen work trade which then turned into a 2 years recurring thing, working for them as a sous/chef for the YTT’s and designing the first raw chef training program that would take part as an additional seperate program during the YTTs. It was exactly what I needed, as it turned out, because I could gather invaluable experience catering for around 70 people daily, learning from different chefs and learning how to run retreats and have people go through such an experience. Shortly after, I started offering my first Raw Food retreats in Bali. It was around that time that Kosta (the owner of Vikasa) contacted me.
Somehow, he had heard about me and invited me to come to his little yoga studio and restaurant, because he was very interested in the raw food. I came to spend 3 weeks and Kosta and I planned to run a yoga and raw food retreat together the coming year. Shortly after, he moved with Vikasa to the location, where it is now and that is where it all started in February 2012.
I came back every year to run my retreat and of course, always left some recipes and kitchen training that slowly became Vikasa signatures and staples on our menu. With Vikasa growing more, I also became more involved after 2016 and should soon after be the only one responsible for any new recipes and training. In 2020, I became a partner and Creative Head Chef.
What are your favourite aspects of your work.
I am a creative chef and teacher uniting the two things that I love the most, creating new tasty recipes that are not only tasty but also healthy and feed you from a nutritional perspective. Since I am a big foodie, I always have been, I love to eat, and I do eat a lot 😉 but I want to stay healthy, youthful, with a fit and healthy body and a healthy mindset. I love to share my knowledge and personal findings and the nutritional science behind it with others. This is why I have two schools in Germany and also run various cooking classes and nutrition courses at Vikasa.
I love sharing my knowledge with others, so that more people can manage to have a delicious yet healthy diet, and keep a healthy and relaxed mindset and thus develop a healthy and good relationship with their bodies and the food they eat. I also love community and bringing people together around food. Pop up dinner events are always a great way to do this. I love when people enjoy a colourful evening indulging into delicious foods and can go home without feeling guilty, but actually nourished both nutritionally and spiritually.
Any other interesting facts you want to share?
I love nutrition, health food, yoga, body work and generally living a healthy lifestyle. However, I can only enjoy all that if my mind stays at ease and doesn’t obsess about it. I am definitely a bit hedonistic and I enjoy life’s pleasures 🙂 Drinking alcohol, going out with friends to a bar, having a long club night out, enjoying a nice bottle of wine or sparkling, having sunset drinks… I love all these things and they are regularly part of my schedule, just as are morning swims, yoga practice, gym, using stairs instead of elevators, breath work, morning cleansing rituals, healthy and mostly plant based food and generally being mindful. And there is no problem with that, as long as you keep a balance. I don’t call it cheating or anything similar, and the word cheat day makes no sense to me. And there is no problem with that, as long as you keep a balance.
The 80/20 rule has always worked pretty well for me. 80% healthy food and habits and 20% you can also indulge in not so healthy things. Other things I love include E-Foiling, live music, Karaoke, Skiing and Snowboarding, swimming, surfing and pretty much everything that has to do with water. I love showing people that you can enjoy life fully, still be healthy, and have all the energy you desire and the physique you desire without needing to ever deprive yourself or place limitations on what you are capable of.
Inspired to take the next step of your wellness journey?
If you’re feeling inspired by Boris’s journey to health and are looking to take your own wellness to a new level in a way that is fun and empowering, join Boris for his upcoming THRIVE Retreat.
No matter your age, experience or background, no matter what your current food choices or wellness routines look like, this is a retreat for every body.
Savour multi-course gourmet raw meals every single day.
Enjoy fun and interactive cooking workshops and get real answers on all your nutritional questions.
Enjoy island adventures, free time for ocean swims and massages, daily yoga classes and time spent with new friends.
You may change your mindset, your eating habits and your wellness habits.
Or, you may enjoy a week of discovering how alive you can truly feel.
No matter what, you will take SO much away from this week with head chef Boris.
THRIVE Retreat April 7 – 13 JOIN HERE!
Press Play below to meet Boris and hear about what Raw Food exactly is and why it is so beneficial for you.