January 23, 2012

In Defense of Festivals: 10 Reasons to go to Wanderlust.

Photo: Ashley Thalman

So a few days ago my inbox found itself laden with information-heavy emails from the Wanderlust Festival people. “You came last year,” they said, “Come again! And to tantalize you, here’s the lineup . . . “ (You had me at Baron Baptiste, by the way, Wanderlusters.)

Now, I was already sold on going to Squaw Valley, California, for Wanderlust again this year, but you might be on the fence. Travel hundreds of miles just to do yoga? Pay hundreds of dollars for just a few classes? Laaame, you might be thinking. Not lame, I say.

Hear me out—in no particular order, here are

10 reasons why Squaw Valley’s Wanderlust is worth the time and expense*:

1. The tents. Tell me this—have you ever done yoga in a big-ass tent before? Fact: it’s way cool.

2. The people-watching. At yoga festivals the weirdies come out of the woodwork. And you get to see them! Wanderlust is people-watching at its finest. From your hawt, conservatively-dressed yoginis to your hoopers with animal tails hanging from their sacral area, there’s enough human visual stimulation to entertain you for days. (If you’re one of the weirdies, I’d like to thank you for showing up. I admire your guts and gold lamé spandex pants.)

Photo: Ashley Thalman

3. The food. Yoga makes you hungry. And since you did something kind for your body in class, why not do something kind for your body off the mat? The food at Wanderlust is yogi food. This ain’t the outside world. At the festival you’re the majority, and for once the caterers cater to your healthy, organic, supa-fresh desires.

4. The shopping. Think of the happiest outdoor mall in the world with the friendliest shopkeepers. And then make all the merchandise yoga-themed or -friendly . . . I hereby welcome you to Wanderlust.

5. The celebs. Yes, yes, there are yoga celebrities. And I suppose that there’s a reason they’re famous—mad inversion skills, acrobatics, altruism, jokes—come to Wanderlust to find out. (I, for one, experienced some kind of euphoric rush when I discovered that Kathryn Budig is actually that adorable in real life.)

6. The music. What I mean to say specifically is MC Yogi, on whom you really can’t help but develop a crush—gender preferences aside—once you’ve seen him live. (Oh, and the other music peeps are cool too.)

7. The camaraderie. What with our alternate-nostril breathing and affinity for sweat, yogis aren’t what you’d call mainstream. And most of us prefer it that way. But sometimes it does feel great to gather with hundreds of other people who share you sensibilities, to bask in the glow of Community. Isn’t it nice to meet someone and already have a love of or curiosity about yoga as a baseline for your relationship?

8. The variation. So what kind of yoga do you practice? Are you an Ashtangi? Are you all about Bikram? Is power yoga your shtick? You may be committed to—or hooked on— a certain kind of practice, but aren’t you a little curious about the other kinds of yoga? Here’s your chance to try CorePower. Or Anusara. Or Yin. What have you got to lose?

Photo: Ashley Thalman

9. The scenery. Okay, I know that Wanderlust has expanded over the years and along with their city events they have a number of other large festivals across the U.S., but I’m going to make myself a target and assert that not a one of them cam touch the scenery at the California Wanderlust site. Where else can you practice handstands 8,000 feet above sea level to the faint sounds of kirtan and a gentle pine scent that no car freshener can touch? Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevadas are extraordinarily compelling. Want to give Gaia some love? There’s no better place than Squaw Valley, CA.

And, most importantly:

10. The high. The rise you feel after this kind of experience lasts for months. Put frankly, the return on your investment is huge.

So see you there? I’ll be the girl with the ridiculous look of perpetual bliss pasted across her face.

* Important note: I am in no way affiliated with the Wanderlusters. I mean, I feel wanderlust come on from time to time, but the above isn’t intended as an advertisement or any some such PR nonsense like that. I honest-to-goodness loved the festival and want to share the love. It’s what we yogis do.

Author has been given permission to use photos from: Ashley Thalman Photography.

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