Friday, July 27, 2012


This weekend Squaw Valley plays host to the Wanderlust Festival, the yoga music and healing arts festival that originated in North Lake Tahoe in 2009.  The festival has grown over the years and this summer will be held in four locations (Vermont, Colorado, Lake Tahoe and British Colombia).  Guru Gatsby was at the Colorado Wanderlust at Copper Mountain , and found that Wanderlust is no ordinary festival.  Festival founders Seane Hoess and Jeff Krasno, who played in bands together in college, had a musical production company housed in the same building as Jeff' wife's yoga studio.  As the two men were introduced to the yoga community they saw an opportunity for a new type of event, fusing their skills in production with the political, social and moral values of yoga culture. 

Yogis in Action

Wanderlust is one of a kind, providing four days of yoga sessions and Speakeasy lectures with extensive Q+A periods, as well as outdoor activities like guided hikes, mountain biking and rafting.  The festival is meant to be participatory, with attendees "interwoven into the fabric of the event", as the founders put it.  It also brings music into the mix, with everything from the yogic chanting of Krisna Das  and the devotional hip-hop of MC Yogi to the majestic artistry of performance artists Quixotic and Beats Antique.  The founders said they chose artists based who fit with the philosophies of Wanderlust, such as Vegan DJ Moby and peace activist Michael Franti, as well as artists who push the boundaries of what is music and what is art.  Witnessing the visual sumptuousness of Quixotic's presentations (full of video art, contortionists and elaborate costumes) and Beats Antique's vibrant and lush sounds blended with the enticing dance of Zoe Jakes, one can see this mission brought to fruition.  


Bonnie Paine of Elephant Revival

At the Colorado Wanderlust, Guru Gatsby relished the positive and joyful festival atmosphere, soaked up that Rocky Mountain fresh air and sunshine (punctuated by much-needed afternoon thunderstorms....rain dance, anyone?), and met fascinating creative and conscious folks of all ilks.   One highlight was the Speakeasy held by conscious mind expert Dr. Ron Alexander and yogic adventurer Shiva Rea, entitled "From Woodstock to Wanderlust: Festivals and Shifts in Consciousness".   These two discussed the introduction of Kundalini yoga to the West in the sixties and the natural urge, as old as fire, to gather and celebrate. This urge was satisfied in many ways at Wanderlust, from the communal feel of the Farm to Table dinner to the tribal exuberance of Shiva Rea's global trance dance sessions.  

Dr. Ron Alexander and Shiva Rea

This year's Wanderlust festivals are also the launch pad for the Yoga Votes, part of Off the Mat, Into the World, an organization that mobilizes the yoga community into conscious action.  On Saturday of the Colorado Festival a large group of teachers, including OTM founder Seane Corn, Shiva Rea, Rod Stryker and more, led a practice and rally centered around taking civic action.  Yoga Votes is non-partisan and simply urges yogis, 20 million strong in the US, to get out and participate in elections guided by the principles of yoga.  Congressman Tim Ryan, author of 'Mindful Nation' and the only national level elected official who openly advocates for mindfulness and the incorporation of yogic ideals in policy-making, also joined the effort. 

Seane Corn and Tim Ryan speak to the Yoga Votes Rally

From down dog to mountain top hikes, from wine tasting at "Winderlust" to treatments in the Healing Sanctuary (featuring local massage therapists, Reiki practioners and more) to the variety of conscientious and creative vendors (look for profiles of some of these vendors to come on Grimey Gatsby), Wanderlust has something for every seeker. 

If you're in Northern California this weekend, head to Squaw Valley  to stretch your body and your consciousness with all-stars like Baron Baptiste and Dr. Wayne Dyer. Then shake that Bodhisattva booty with the likes of Shpongle and Eskmo.  If you can't make it, there's also one final weekend at Whistler (August 23rd-26th).  

Every yogi has their own experience at Wanderlust, but what Guru Gatsby took away from this magical weekend was that yoga is not just a physical practice. It's a mental and spiritual lifestyle that this community cultivates in all its actions.  Every day we make choices, and every day we have opportunities to live in love and awareness. As Deepak Chopra told an enormous crowd on the festival's final day, today is not "just another day. It is the one day. The one day that was given to you.  It is a gift and the only appropriate response is gratitude"

Deepak Chopra

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