Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Open your eyes and take a look around you. Take another deep breath as you soak in your surroundings. Beautiful, isn’t it? Both visitors and locals alike know we are lucky to be in the midst of this Tahoe scenery, and soon we will have an opportunity to share this splendor (and more deep breaths) at the Wanderlust Festival at Squaw Valley July 24 to 26. Along with an eclectic mix of musicians and music styles, yoga is the other major component to Wanderlust, making this the first local festival of its kind – great yoga and great music together. Bringing teachers like John Friend, Annie Carpenter, Katchie Ananda and more to Squaw, the organizers of the festival have hit a high note with many yogis in the Tahoe community and those who will come from the Bay Area, Reno and beyond to share this unique experience. ‘It’s almost unnatural that it hasn’t happened yet,’ remarked Carpenter.
If you’ve ever been to a yoga class or two, you probably know that every yoga teacher has their preferred style and study of yoga and their own way of teaching a class. At the Wanderlust Festival, participants will have the chance to experience different styles of teaching and yoga for three days. Maybe you’re looking for a less physically intense practice while you nurse that leftover ski injury, so you could try a restorative session. Or, maybe you have a regular yoga practice and you are looking for more of a challenge. If so, the VIP ticket will grant you access to Shiva Rea’s Advanced Vinyasa Flow class on Saturday.
What is most important is that you find a session that will suit your own personal practice. As master teacher Annie Carpenter explained, your practice should be ‘an exploration of what is nurturing and nourishing at this very moment in time. The practice of self-study and awareness is becoming more and more essential for teachers and students both.’
A former professional dancer, Carpenter brings her dance and movement background to her yoga classes, encouraging her students to find comfort in their own practice both physically and mentally. When I ask Annie about translating this physical and mental awareness to life as a whole, she tells me, ‘Bringing attention to ourselves and our practice on the mat allows us to bring attention and awareness to our lives off the mat and the world around us.’ Of course, this is not something that comes easily, which is precisely why it is called a yoga ‘practice.’
Having lived a yogic lifestyle for over 20 years, Katchie Ananda is equally passionate about students finding comfort in their own practice and allowing their practice to evolve with time. ‘Yoga is skill in action,’ she tells me. ‘Yoga is the perfect bridge in which you can actually study in a stressful environment how not to abandon your own intention.’ This mind-body connection is the leading principle of yoga; rather than just being a ‘workout.’ More and more Westerners are realizing the spiritual benefits of yoga and its potential to transform. Ananda teaches with this intention as a volunteer at the San Quentin State Prison, teaching yoga to inmates as a rehabilitation that begins from within.
Not every yoga instructor plays music during their classes, and not every yoga student likes to hear music during their practice. However, music and yoga do both have the potential to influence the spirit. Ananda has long used music in her classes, as she believes it can create a particular kind of ambience, and in some cases, the message of yoga can be translated through music. ‘Music can bring our spirit into our practice rather than thinking about our every move; it brings us to a level of being rather than thinking,’ she tells me. I ask her what music she prefers to play during her classes and she explains that music sung in English can be distracting to students, unless she is using it specifically to incorporate messages of social justice and social change into the practice. For that, she explains, ‘I love the music and the message of Michael Franti. I am so excited to see him perform at Wanderlust!’
Local teacher Monique Sady of Reno experienced yoga and live music together in 2008 at the Power to the People benefit featuring the music of Franti and a yoga class taught by San Francisco-based Les Leventhal. ‘Yoga helps us connect with our higher selves,’ says Sady, ‘and the musical aspect of this event adds to that element of connection. With so many styles to choose from, this is a great opportunity for everyone, including beginners, to have fun, move, dance, and be inspired.’
~ For info on Wanderlust’s yoga lineup, instructors and passes, head to wanderlustfestival.com/wl_yoga_lineup.html