Years ago my dear friend Katie and I decided that "some day" we would attend a Wanderlust yoga festival. This year, we turned that should into a reality and signed up for Wanderlust Whistler.
Defining Wanderlust as a yoga festival is a bit of a misnomer. Don't get me wrong, there's yoga and meditation, with some amazing teachers from across North America. But overall it's kind of like adult summer camp, where the sky is the limit for adventuring, exploring, and participating in activities including running, hiking, mountain biking, slack-lining and hula-hooping (with the option to skip a class and take a nap). At night, music and performances keep those entertained that can stay awake (I admit this was only two nights for us).
Wanderlust Whistler ran 5 days this year (Thursday to a holiday Monday). You could purchase a 1 day, 3 day or 5 day pass. If you go for the 5 day pass, as we did, expect both a physical and emotional roller coaster. The influx of new teaching styles will have you exploring both mental and physical edges, likely with a few tears mixed in. Each class runs 1.5 - 2 hours and you have the option to do up to 3 a day. My recommendation: if you are a beginner/intermediate yogi don't book back to back to back classes - you will end up skipping one. Also, don't be afraid to embrace gentler activities like yin, a speakeasy talk, a meditation or a new activity to mix up the fun. My regret from Wanderlust is that I didn't embrace the full experience and participate in more of the things I don't experience on a regular basis. My friend Kristen was a pro at the Wanderlust embrace and ended up loving hula-hooping so much that she brought home a flashy new pink hula-hoop!
Class highlights for me included:
- learning proper arm balancing technique with Schyuler Grant, the queen of Kula Flow;
- realizing we are all just "animals in fancy pants" with Danielle Hoogenboom;
- undulating more than I knew was humanly possible in Cameron Shayne's Budokon's Bringing Sexy Back class;
- a powerful and emotional om wave alongside 100 or so other yogis in Eoin Finn's Blissology class;
- running up (and I mean straight up) a mountain to the 2010 Olympic bobsled site with some great Calgary friends, including triathlete, Raf Lopez.
My constructive feedback on this event?
- It is a sponsored event, so it does have a bit of commercial feel to it.
- Most of the classes are indoors, and I hoped for some beautiful shaded outdoor classes. **Update for 2015 - I received an email indicating that based on feedback, Wanderlust 2015 as a whole will have more outdoor classes, this is great news!
- There were very few healthy food trucks/stands set up by Wanderlust for its participants (besides one juice stand). If you wanted to eat out, the majority of the options were the regular pubs or restaurants of Whistler. I'd recommend bringing any of your favourite snacks that will travel well, and hitting up the grocery store to add produce to the mix. Also, if you don't know Whistler well (I didn't), here is a list of some healthy restaurant options, I loved the Green Moustache but didn't stumble on it till the end of the festival.
- I expected more out of the farm-to-table dinner. It was a bit overpriced to be a buffet meal, with no presentations or performances. Also, it had a bit of an us vs. them feel with tables reserved for various sponsors.
Despite the feedback, I would do Wanderlust again, hopefully in one of the 5 other locations: O'ahu, Stratton, Aspen-Snowmass, Squaw Valley or Tremblant. If you are consider attending Wanderlust, here is my packing list: an open mind, a willingness to try, a friend or two and stretchy pants.
**Updates for Wanderlust 2015 - 1) Your pass now gets you four classes a day (rather than three). Personally, I think this isn't a huge change as last year you really could just walk into any class that wasn't 100% full, and I was exhausted after three classes anyway 2) All standup paddleboard classes are now included in your pass. This is amazing! Last year I had to pay $50 extra for my class, but savasana with my fingertips in the water and sun beating down on me was 100% worth it. Check out how you can get in on the fun here.