Recharging and connecting at this popular yoga festival
Words by Leonie Sherman
Photos by Rebecca Smith
I lost my flip flops at Wanderlust.
When I entered the darkened room that held the first of over a dozen classes I attended during the four-day yoga festival that takes over Squaw Valley Ski Resort on Lake Tahoe’s north shore every August, fifty pairs of shoes were jumbled by the door. When I emerged after an hour and a half of stretching and dancing to trance-inducing music, they were gone. In their place was an almost identical pair. Someone had mistaken mine for theirs and strolled off in my shoes. Despite my best efforts I was unable to correct this mistake. Now I’m walking around in a pair of slightly newer and cuter flip flops. They feel fresher, lighter and somehow more vibrant. I think the same thing happens to each of the thousands of attendees at this four day celebration of mindful living. They emerge looking a little brighter and feeling different. Anyone paying attention can’t help but notice the transformation.
You can find almost whatever you’re looking for at Wanderlust. If you’re looking for a workout, there’s a class here that will get your heart pumping and sweat pouring. If you’re looking to learn stand up paddling, or slacklining, or mountain biking or chi running, you can do that here. If you’re looking for a life transforming lecture, you can attend one. If you’re looking for a new take on an ancient tradition, you can find it. If you’re looking for a cute yoga outfit, a delicious healthy meal, or a new water bottle, you can buy them at this festival. If you’re looking for a bacchanalian pool party, high camp will provide one that resembles a Hollywood set. If you’re looking for a rocking show by a joyful funk band, you can shake it to a different group each night at the Main Stage. If you’re looking for innovative stretches to integrate into your yoga practice, you can learn them here. If you’re searching for a community of like-minded folks, you can find them at Wanderlust.
No matter what you’re looking for, you’ll find human kindness. Wanderlust provides the nourishment, calm and connection that many modern lives are lacking. The towering granite cliffs, dense forests and burbling waterfalls soothe nerves frazzled by civilization. For a decade, the organizers, presenters and vendors have been refining their offerings to meet the every desire and need of attendees who hail from as far away as Europe and as close as Incline Village. The result is crowds of happy relaxed people who glow in the summer heat, friends you haven’t met yet eager to offer a hug, a greeting, or directions to your next event.
What you won’t find is angry political rhetoric. During four days of wandering, slack-lining, acro-yoga-ing and schmoozing, I didn’t hear the words “President Trump” a single time or any discussion of his policies, actions or tweets. In a polarized politicized world, this respite from anger, hatred and fear is worth the price of admission.
Many Wanderlust presenters and instructors travel hundreds or thousands of miles to attend and share their gifts with a receptive crowd. “This is my eighth year teaching at Wanderlust,” explained Vancouver, BC based yogi, surfer and blissologist Eoin Finn, after leading over a hundred people in 90-minute yoga love fest he calls the Skill of Chill. “Wanderlust is a chance for us to reset, to cast off the residue from all this stress and pressure, all this stuff we find on our plates that we didn’t order. For four days we can step outside of that, beyond that, and connect with something deeper, more meaningful. And when each of us leaves, we can bring that back out into the world with us.”