August 5, 2011

Trip Report: Wanderlust California

If you don't know about Wanderlust it can be summed up as a long weekend of yoga, music, wellness, amazing food, and the opportunity to make new friends. The Festival began in Squaw Valley, CA in 2009. In its third year it has expanded including offerings in Vermont and Florida as well as various 'Wanderlust in the the City' events throughout the US. This year I was fortunate to attend the original Squaw Valley location as a volunteer and attendee for four-amazing days. Typically trip reports break down the experience by day, but I would rather talk with you about the various components. So here we go!

Photo Courtesy of Carl Kerridge
The Classes
There are a ton of yoga classes offered at Wanderlust. There are about 4-5 time slots per day with about 6-8 classes offered during each time. It can be very overwhelming to choose which classes to take. Sometimes the draw is experiencing new styles of yoga, or maybe practicing with that celebrity teacher, or maybe adding to your asana experience. There were a lot of combinations of running/hiking and yoga as well as meditation and lectures.

I'll admit most of my classes were with the "celebrity" teachers, Seane Corn, Schuyler Grant, and Kathryn Budig. As a new teacher I was very curious, are they worth the hype? I definitely learned some new information from them and they all held great energy. Since this is a festival format the classes tended to speak to a specific theme, like Detox yoga, or be a workshop style. So while you got a taste of what it was like to be with these famous instructors it's not quite the same as it might be to practice with them at their home studios. I think next year I will try to balance it out a bit more between the celebrity yoga teachers and the lesser known but also excellent teachers.

Photo Courtesy of Carl Kerridge
The Atmosphere
Wanderlust was pretty much like any other festival but with a wellness spin, like the Farm to Table Dinner, fresh organic food just fit the yoga vibe. There were a lot of great vendors with clothing, yoga accessories, supplements and supporting non-profits. In addition to the vendors in tents the area is full of great dining and little shops. Being in the Squaw Valley area things were a bit pricey, but hey, it's a resort area and it's in California, that is to be expected.

One of the best parts was the Anusara Village. This space is an amazing combination of asana, the YogaSlackers and thought-provoking art installations. Everyone was really nice, I mean REALLY nice. There wasn't pushing or shoving or the rudeness you may see at other events. People were just blissful.  I was very fortunate to run into Jessica from "Where is my Guru" and Carl Kerridge, her awesome beau and exceptional photographer. Through them I met more wonderful people and the bliss kept on going.

The Music
I may get blasted for this, but definitely my least favorite part of the festival. The music was GREAT, Michael Franti was awesome and I loved hearing the music interspersed throughout the area during the evening hours. What I don't love is crowds and having beer spilled on me and being repeatedly hit in the head by a hula hoop from the girl behind me. I know for many this is their favorite part, it's just not my thing, however honoring that part of myself and walking away before I became too frustrated was a big achievement for me. So in a way, I was treated to a new way to practice my yoga off the mat. Honor thyself and walk away from the hula hoop bashing.

Photo Courtesy of Carl Kerridge
You can read a more detailed account of my Volunteering experience here at the Wanderlust Blog. I can sum it up and say it was a great experience. As a volunteer, you get one free day of yoga for working three 4-6 hour shifts. During that time I met some fun people and working in the yoga rooms I got a chance to also observe other teacher's styles and adjustments. It was an excellent learning experience. Also a unique factor, the volunteers are treated really well across the board at Wanderlust. Not always the case at a lot of festivals.

I am really glad I went, I would love to go again. Being solo I had a lot of freedom to learn a lot, meet new people and grow. I would recommend checking out the festival near you or making a big trip out of it. I think next year I will try to go with friends but I would still go alone again. It's the type of festival where you can be solo but not feel lonely. To learn more about my experience and what fellow attendees though, check out the Wanderlust Blog!


Carl Kerridge said...
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Carl Kerridge said...

Yeah Tali, It was so great hanging with and getting to know you too. I agree with your whole article, great overall festival, amazing yogis, volunteers, attitudes and obviously the scenery...but the music was really mixed. Michael Frant rocked it, kirtan was blissful but to hear Girl Talk playing "I don't give a f***" at a yoga festival really turned me off...I mean I thought yoga was about unity...humm..oh well I guess you can't have all you cupcakes and eat em too.


BTW more pics are here -

Tali said...

Thanks for the comment Carl. Most definitely agree on all the points! Thanks for adding the link to rest of the pics, I knew I was missing something!