As a guest of Toyota, I was lucky enough to attend Wanderlust Festival this year at The Village at Squaw Valley. As cocreator Sean Hoess explains, this yoga and music festival is geared toward the "adventure-minded crowd who want stuff you can't get at your local yoga studio." Imitators have popped up over the years, marketing themselves as music festivals with a conscious component, but no one boasts Wanderlust's lineup of world-renowned yoga teachers. The festival truly lives up to the hype.
With all this said, Wanderlust does come with a high price tag. A four-day ticket costs over $400 — and that's without taking accommodations or food into consideration. If you're itching to wander next year, then here's what to keep in mind before committing.
Have a foundation: While Wanderlust is officially open to all levels of yoga students, it's not the place to try out yoga for the first time. The teachers at Wanderlust are some of the best in the country, so if they have one opportunity to teach one class at this yogi mecca, then they're going to teach a kick-ass class and give it their all! This doesn't always necessarily translate to a beginner-friendly flow sequence; classes deemed suitable for "all levels" were much more rigorous and advanced than anticipated. Before attending the four-day festival, I would recommend a solid year of a consistent practice (three to four times per week).
Do your research: Before arriving to the festival, attendees register for their classes online. Choose classes wisely; do your research and learn what you can about all the incredible teachers that will be at the festival. You may initially be drawn to the bigger names you see on the cover of DVDs, but taking a more intimate class with a lesser-known instructor can prove to be just as transformative. I also found that reaching out to my friends and local yoga teachers was really helpful. This way, I received firsthand insight about the best classes or teachers they adore. Once you arrive at Wanderlust, it's possible to switch classes, but in many cases, you have to wait on a stand-by list and cross your fingers. Overall, it's best to plan ahead so you don't experience buyer's remorse.
Keep reading for two more things to consider before signing up for Wanderlust.
Pace yourself: It's easy to get excited and sign up for everything you're interested in, but after four very physical classes, the next days can leave you uncomfortable, sore, and perhaps unable to push yourself in the other classes you picked. Even worse, you could wind up working with a serious injury or strain. When you're choosing classes, this is the general rule: pick two physical practices a day, and space them out wisely: one in the morning, the other in the afternoon. You'll have to prioritize what you take, but your body will thank you for it! Luckily, the festival offers lots of other options to break up your day, like bike excursions, rafting trips, and hikes. If you really need to chill, then there are a number of well-known self-help teachers who lecture all day long. Also, there's always the option to eat or shop.
There will be chanting: There is nothing like the positive and pure attitude that permeates the four days at Wanderlust, but you've got to be open to the ever-present hippie-dippie vibe. In many classes — not all, but many — there will be harmonium, chanting, and partner work. It's common for teachers to talk about the chakras and explain that repressed emotions live in our hips. A teacher telling everyone to get off their mat to hug their neighbor in class is to be expected. For people who crave this kind of close connection back at home, Wanderlust feels like a dream. For people who find this a little over-the-top, make the decision to either let go of judgments before you arrive or choose teachers wisely so you know what you're getting yourself into.
It's not for everyone, but I consider Wanderlust a yearly investment in my self care. The time I spend at this awe-inspiring festival reminds me to slow down, be grateful, and, most importantly, do more yoga.