- Kate Braner
What a Yoga Festival Is Really like: A Day by Day Account of Wanderlust Stratton
Spoiler Alert: I went as a beginner and left as a future yoga instructor.
Last month I had the great opportunity to go to a Wanderlust Festival with one of my best friends, Megan (who is a certified yoga instructor). If you read my last post, you know I’m new to yoga. So the thought of heading to a 4-day yoga festival with some of the best yogis around was pretty intimidating.
Due to time constraints, I ended up opting for the 3-day experience in Stratton, Vermont. After signing-up, we began choosing classes. There were so many selections, it was hard to decide, but ultimately we decided to go for mostly yoga activities, sprinkling in a hike and wine tasting to mix it up a bit.
We woke up bright and early to start our first day at the festival in Stratton following a 3-hour drive from Boston and a restful night.
Once we got to Stratton Mountain (yes, the festival takes place on the ski mountain), we decided to get the lay of the land and were amazed by what we found. In addition to all of the athletic activities to participate in, the festival was full of things to do, eat and buy. We each spent a fortune at the Spiritual Gangster tent that was running a 50% off promotion.
From there, we got some vegan tacos and were off to our first activity of the weekend. We somehow ended up on a musical hike with a band called Magic Giant who were awesome. The hike up one of the easier mountains proved to be both beautiful and calming. Add in the mini-concert by a pond and meditation on top of the hill and we had a pretty good start to a magical weekend at Wanderlust Stratton.
After that, we attended our first yoga class of the weekend with a woman named Kerri Kelly, who runs CTZNWELL. Kerri was an amazing first yoga instructor for the weekend as her class was not too challenging and got to the heart of what it means to be well. She spoke about how lucky we are to be well and how many do not get the same opportunities we do, but should because wellness is a human right.
After that? We made our way up the mountain in the gondola to sip wine at the top. This turned out to be a more casual affair than expected, but it was fun, and the view was beautiful.
We started our day with Dan Steele, who led an inversion workshop focused on how to build a foundation for handstands. I was pretty nervous at the start of this class, because I definitely do not have a handstand practice. But it turned out to be much more than handstand fails with Dan. Of course, he effortlessly showed off his balancing skills during class, and I can honestly say I have never seen a more seamless handstand or cartwheel than the ones Dan was churning out.
He had us work on our ab muscles, stretch out our shoulders and work on the mobility of our wrists, all essential to handstands. We also did some work on the wall, which was great because I was able to get a sense of how a handstand might feel without the stress of potentially falling.
From there we bolted over to the Wanderlust Speakeasy and listened to Seane Corn speak about veganism. I’m not a vegan, but a lot of the things she said made sense, and I learned about the effect meat has on the planet, not just the body. This talk made me want to cut down on my meat intake (and I have, though I doubt I could ever give it up completely).
Next, we took the gondola back up to the mountaintop for a class with Rima Rabbath, an instructor from New York City. From her music to the way she structured her flows, she was my absolute favorite instructor. I even got into (an assisted) headstand which felt amazing. It got a little hot and buggy at the top of the mountain, but it was totally worth it.
Still struck by Seane’s talk, we grabbed some vegan pizza and re-hydrated for our last class of the day.
Our last class entitled “My Neck, My Back” was led by Derek Cook. Derek handed out tools such as balls, a massaging hand, and weights. Wondering what we got ourselves into, Megan and I soon would be learning all about the anatomy of the neck, back and shoulder areas and rubbing sore, knotted muscles with the provided kit. Derek was incredibly knowledgeable about the human body and where pain might actually come from (not always the place that hurts). It was a great class, especially for someone like me who sits at a desk all day!
On day three we awoke sore and dehydrated from the day before but were determined to make the most of our last day at Wanderlust.
We kicked it off with an emotional class from Seane Corn. This was probably the most challenging class for me that weekend, as we did a ton of hamstring work. I’m a former long distance runner, which equals having the tightest hammys ever. However, just listening to Seane speak was inspiring. Some students even cried.
Next, we went to a SUP yoga class. I was pretty skeptical going in. I mean yoga on a stand-up paddle board? It sounded pretty hard and oh, boy, was it ever. I’m going to be honest here; I’m not totally sure that many of the poses we were doing on an unstable surface were safe for less than seasoned yogis. I spent most of this class in Child’s Pose, which was lovely. I don’t think I’d try it again.
After the SUP class, we were exhausted and decided to beat the traffic and head home. After the weekend, I was truly inspired. I even decided to get my yoga certification this fall thanks to all of the inspiring talks, classes and people I met over the weekend.
I highly recommend going to this festival; It will inspire you to keep doing yoga, will likely shift your outlook, and care more for the environment. You’ll learn a ton, and, hey, I went as a beginner and left as a future yoga instructor. Pretty amazing, right?