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Live from Wanderlust Festival 2009! Recaps from a Weekend of Yoga and Music Harmony

in Events, Public Display of Yoga, YD News

john-friend-high-camp-wanderlust09Couldn’t make it to Wanderlust Fest this year? YD’s got you covered!

wanderlustIn fact the winners of the Wanderlust ticket giveaway are soaking in all the yoga and music they can handle and steadfastly reporting from the field!

Twitter: We hope you had a chance to keep up with @mrscabeen and @ossumniss for yoga and music play by play as it happens.

The gist we got from Kia’s amazing recaps was 1. It was SO MUCH FUN! 2. the crowd meshed well (for the most part) 3. Water was great, food was meh, and BYO-snacks was the way to go.

Read more and see the awesome pics plus video!

For further reading and more great highlights from the weekend of yoga-music-tasticness head on over to elephantjournal. Also check out Drishti blog for updates from the scene courtesy of LA Yoga mag’s editor-in-chief Felicia Tomasko.

Also…check out an interview with fest co-founder Jeff Krasno on the supreme greenness of the event at Treehugger.

See all the photos at our flickr photostream!

More cool stuff is flowing in as our intrepid reporter and fest-goer from the field winds her way back home. All recaps, photos and videos by the amazing Kia M. Ruiz (check her out at her own ossumniss blog)

(above: Duncan Wong demonstrates a back bending technique)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

YD: Have all the classes been pretty packed so far?

The classes have been pretty packed so far.  It is a supportive community though so it has not been tense when you are crammed into a room or other practice space.  I think the challenges have been outdoor classes when there is only a tent and people have to practice out in the open sun due to limited space size.  It is hot and sunny here.  At John Friend’s sessions in High Camp there have been several people trying to practice in the sun and not lasting the session.  He has drawn people to huddle in a circle to give the class and those in the sun a quick breather while demonstrating an asana.

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I think the biggest frustration on the yoga side of things has been the schedule.  There were a number of scheduling changes made for class times and locations between Friday and Saturday.  There was a good deal of anxiety on Saturday as people used their pre-printed Wanderlust pamphlet programs to schedule their weekend only to go to a class to see some yoga they have been wanting to work out with and learn that class happened two hours earlier at another location (I met two people who went through this).

It has been an interesting lesson in enjoying being present while trying to stick to a schedule and do everything you want to do.  Talking to people you can tell they are upset but then you get to talking and breathe and shrug it off.  I saw a high-profile yogini blow her stack because of a schedule change and she was not able to make it to High Camp immediately.  She basically pulled a “don’t you know who I am” move and asked for a separate gondola for the talent.  It was surprising but understandable since she was upset and expressed that emotion.  Once she was at High Camp she was fine and able to let go of the stress she had earlier.


How well do you think the music plus yoga fest crowds mesh…is it divided yogis and music fans or mostly intertwined?

This question is something on my mind.  The mixing of the yoga and music crowd has been interesting to say the least.  As I was walking around where Common was performing yesterday I wanted to see a breakdown of the folks who just bought yoga tickets, those who bought just music tickets, and those who bought tickets to both.  Saturday was the big music day here and people had an opportunity to buy an all day music pass.  There was a lot more alcohol consumed yesterday that I do not think is a coincidence.  I spoke to a group of yogis riding up to the Common show on the funitel lift and they had been up to the Gold Coast stage twice during the day on lifts with a number of drunk people.  They said it was weird for them.  At the Gold Coast stage there were a number of tents selling alcohol and people in the crowd visibly intoxicated.  On the periphery of the crowd there were non-intoxicated people practicing acroyoga, showing friends what they learned that day, and hula hooping.  A definite demarcation in the kinds of intentions people had for the festival.

My husband even commented on the difference between the two nights for The Mutaytor sets.  On Friday the music was flowing and people were not pushing in the crowd.  Folks were coherent and smiling.  The Saturday set was different with pushing and people wandering around like zombies coming off their high after the set.  A stark contrast with the crowd for the same band on two different nights.  Today is a another big music day but I have been at High Camp for a good portion of it.  I have not gone near the Gold Coast stage where the music is taking place.  The Kula Village is not filled with many drinkers right now, just yogis with mats strapped on their back talking to vendors and coming out of practice.

Do they have refreshments or good options for food and hydration during the day?

The festival has been excellent for hydration.  Each practice space has a cooler with large water jugs to be loaded.  Easy access for anyone with a water bottle.  If you are dehydrated here it is your own fault for not bringing a hat and refilling your water bottle.  Kleen Kanteen is even here if you need a water bottle.  The food situation has been a little odd.  There is a sandwich shop tucked away in the village for reasonably priced soups, salads, and sandwiches.  Other than that you have grills, pizza, and sushi.  What I have done and what I have seen many people do is go to the little market and make something themselves.  I stopped at the Trader Joe’s in Reno to pack my cooler with hummus, produce, cheese, beans, rice, and bread.  I have not had my first meal here yet.  I tried a couple of times and a burger or pizza just does not seem like it would hit the spot.

What are the tables or stands like that are set up, what noteworthy causes?

I’ll get back to you on that.  I have seen some interesting tents but have not fully investigated the tent village yet.  I have seen a few promoting peace, teaching yoga to school children, and bringing yoga to Africa.  I’ll go check them out for specifics before I leave to help you be better informed.

Sunday July 26, 2009

Wanderlust has been great with the talent that is assembled here.  Not just the high-profile yoga instructors but the crowd as well.  People have been supportive with each other and teachers not on the bill have been stepping up to help others with adjustments during sessions, classes clapping for someone an instructor may spend extra time with, and some instructors going over their time if nothing is scheduled afterward.

There have been some frustrations along the way.  The big one has been the changes in the yoga schedule with locations and times.  Saturday was a bit manic with people showing up to one location where a volunteer who was not given all the answers to why a change happened was there and of little help.  I had the frustration conversation with numerous people yesterday who would eventually calm each other down, breathe, and be supportive of the next activity.  I sort of adopted the attitude that I would try to stick to my schedule and if it did not work out then I would plant myself in whatever practice space I was around if people were smiling.  That worked well for me.  There is simply so much stuff to do at this festival that you will learn something no matter what session you go to.

On Friday I did not practice any yoga.  I set up my camp, got my media passes, attended kirtan, saw two bands, and went to the clothing swap.  I slept well that night waiting for the next day.

My highlight of Saturday was the Jason and Jenny AcroYoga session.  The first part of their 90 minutes was a Thai Massage workshop that I did with my husband.  After that we were flying and I was paired with similar height people (my husband and I have a 12” height difference) as a base, spotter, and the one flying.  I was lucky enough to be paired for the first series with two AcroYoga instructors who were attending the session.  I felt secure my first time doing this practice with two qualified people.  The next posture had me with two other instructors.  It was a rush!!

shiva-rea-mutaytor-wanderlust09-sm

Saturday also involved John Friend at High Camp that was fun with a flow but it was packed and hot.  An exercise unique to this festival was Shivea Ray with The Mutaytor on the Globetrotter Stage leading the crowd in a sequence that involved a number of dynamic moves set to the rhythm of the band.  The vibe of this place definitely shifted from Friday to Saturday with many ticketholders on Saturday only holding music passes.  There was pushing at the Common and The Mutaytor shows.  People were a little less friendly around the play area (acro yoga playground).  And the crowds were larger.  Yogis being who they are have been making the best of the situation with everything.  The periphery of the Common show was dotted with people practicing newly learned AcroYoga, techniques to deepen an asana, and hula hoopers.

On Sunday I was able to attend another John Friend session where he was pushing people to go past their edge with intuition and music.  It was his Rock n’ Roll session where partners paired to complete the session with Eka Pada Rajakapotasana.  Many people were able to reach back to their foot.  After that I stayed for Duncan Wong‘s class.  I had no idea who this guy was but he looked intense getting off the gondola.  It turns out he is a complete goof ball.  The man practicing next to me said he came to the session to wind down with some Thai Massage, Duncan said that was the intention too.  It did not turn out that way.  We sequenced through Duncan’s warrior poses to hip hop and seemed like little kids playing ninja fighters with our kicks, jabs, and screams we were putting out there under Duncan’s direction.  That class was a big surprise for me.

This festival has been great and like any conference there are many great things happening outside sessions.  Attendees are willing to talk philosophy in groups, yoga gossip, and random thoughts about our community.  I hung out with one group talking about how commercial yoga is becoming and one person even mentioned yogadork.com‘s article on the celebrity yoga agent idea.

This has been an interesting inaugural event.  In order for Wanderlust to take place the organizers are taking a gamble.  The investment is close to half a million dollars.  They have to do big music and other mainstream appeals to come close to making it financially viable.  For this location they have had to work with three different entitities that own the Squaw Valley resort and logistically that does not seem pretty.  Squaw Valley has also been tested this weekend.  The

resort is not known for doing large music events.  Their last one was in 1991 with the Grateful Dead.  That event drew 20,000 people at the Gold Coast Stage (the main stage during sunlight hours) and they did not have the Funitel system worked out at the time.  There was no efficient way to get that many people down the mountain.  Neighbors complained because they had Deadheads stumbling through their multi-million dollar properties after the show.  The Common show last night was a test to see if the new system that brings 15,000 people down in 60 minutes would work.  It seems like many people hope festivals here will work because this resort is deserted in the summer and business owners don’t want to keep it that way.  So that brings the question, will Wanderlust take place here again?  Will it take place again?

The organizers have done an amazing job bringing together a like-minded community with the yogis and musical artists.  One can only hope that they get out of this weekend what they need to want to put on Wanderlust 2010.  I have had a number of friends let me know how jealous they are that I am here and they are not.  I do not take this opportunity for granted and hope there is a festival to return to.  The yoga community needs this space to celebrate, deepen our practice, and be silly away from the culture of conferences.

1 comment… add one

  • Ooooh, looks fun! Glad to be able to experience the fest vicariously through this update and the upcoming recap, since I’m stuck in my rainy urban metropolis on the other side of the continent… Sigh.

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