Journal of a Wanderluster: Takeaways and Tips
by Sarah Wojcik
Is it possible for a person uninterested in crowds, sharing feelings and festivals to find inner peace and happiness at an event that embodies all of these things? This was the challenge I accepted as I signed up to attend and write about the Wanderlust Festival at Stratton Resort in southern Vermont.
After some thorough planning (read about it here), I attended two days of Wanderlust, a yoga, music and overall healthy living festival, in June 2015. The end results didn’t completely change my preference for practicing yoga in the solitude of my home, but the journey was pretty darn amazing and I did come out on the other end with a positive outlook and happy body. I could write in depth about all the remarkable classes I took, the warmth of the people I met, and the ridiculous amount of free healthy stuff that I consumed. But, to save you a novel, here some of the big takeaways and tips that I gathered from my experience.
- Famous yoga instructors are famous for a reason. If names like Rodney Yee and Elena Brower don’t ring a bell and spark a yoga-crush, then like me, you probably don’t really follow the scene. Despite my unfamiliarity of top yoga instructors, I happened to sign up for classes with both of these world-renowned instructors, and a handful of equally talented teachers. Elena Brower, especially, had a big impression on me. She spoke eloquently, but without too much narrative. She explained the anatomical reasons for her variations on poses but added just enough light humor and self-depreciation to keep the room relaxed. The combination instilled trust, allowing her to push students to realize their potential through challenging Katonah poses. Her classes have completely changed my home practice for the better, and placed new importance on taking courses from great instructors.
- Yoga is the best anti-aging product out there. To say I felt really good after two days at Wanderlust is an understatement. I felt light, calm, aligned, strong and ever so positive. And a week later I’m still reaping the benefits of mind and body balancing. On the other hand, while observing the Wanderlust community, I noticed that yoga participants in general look younger. And it isn’t just the outfits (see #4). This group, in general, sits taller, their skin glows and their faces and bodies simply defy age better than most. I can easily attest that the women attending in their 50’s and 60’s all looked about 20 years younger than their average American equivalents.
- Wanderlust is a great way to grow your practice. Let’s be honest. My home practice can get stagnant and attending only Ashtanga primary series classes sparingly has limited my practice a bit. Wanderlust offered me the opportunity – and encouraged me - to try new things, push my limits, pick up new poses, and add a little fun to my daily practice. Even better, I got lessons and corrections that I needed to hone and strengthen my poses and sequences.
- Crazy pants are in. If you’re into the yoga scene, you know crazy pants are like members-only jackets: The more flair, the better. And you can bet your buns that an array of space-scene, sunset beach, and wild patterned pants are available for viewing and for sale at any Wanderlust.
- People are good. I attended Wanderlust alone. My skepticism about the event centered around my preference for keeping my yoga practice insular and quiet. And while I still value that aspect of yoga, I really enjoyed the social interaction I had at the festival. I met a lot of really nice, happy and chill people. (Warning: yoga will do that to you.) I ended up befriending several folks at dinner, before a few classes, and at the performance one night. Heck, I even stood on a few strangers’ bodies during the acroyoga class. We got friendly – and it was nice for me to share the experience for a change.
- Scheduling. Sign up early! I really wanted to try SUP yoga and aerial yoga but all the classes were filled up before I could add them to my schedule. Most of the yoga classes ended up fitting the “waitlist” folks into the space, but those two classes required equipment that was limited to the number of folks signed up, so no squeezing anyone in.
- Try something new. Wanderlust is a great place to try something that normally intimidates you. Most likely, everyone else is in the same first-timer boat with you. My slackline acroyoga class had me the most nervous, but our YogaSlackers instructors were great at breaking things down and prepping us before trying anything crazy. In the end, I ended up being pretty good at it and even conquered an inverted pose on the slackline!
- Food. Be prepared to eat. The free samples are endless – veggie juices, soy desserts and every kind of health bar are available in sample size. Stratton also had some great local cart vendors and a whole village of fine dining options. I already knew the Fire Tower Restaurant is amazing, so I had dinner there Thursday night, including ceviche hand rolled in butter lettuce and Samoan sliders. Everything was delicious and nourishing without being too filling. I wrapped up dinner with a special Skida cocktail, sponsored by Ski Vermont’s new headwear partner and then went on the hunt to find them.
- Go alone. It may sound boring or lonely, but I think going solo offers a unique experience. Had I attended with friends, I would have focused more on the group experience and missed out on meeting new people and having fresh conversation. I also wouldn’t have been able to focus on myself and my own practice and experience as much, if I had to juggle the needs and wants of others along with my own.
- Budget for shopping. I’m not a huge shopper myself, but if you love to find fun new athletic wear (ie. crazy pants), or have a penchant for jewelry shopping, be sure to bring some cash and credit along. On top of the great shops at the Stratton village, there were tons of vendors dispersed across the grounds. You can also spend money on massages and other services. Before I left, I stopped by the Heartfire Henna tent to visit my friend Rebecca and left with an impermanent decorative souvenir: a beautiful design on my hand to help hold onto the memories of a great festival.
Last tip and takeaway - but not least: Have an open mind, an open heart and have fun. Even for the festival skeptic, it’s easy to practice these ideas at Wanderlust. The quality of yoga and people make it a truly amazing experience. I can’t wait to sign up for it again next year.