Wanderlust Festival – the four-day yoga extravaganza held in Vermont, Colorado, Lake Tahoe and Whistler, Canada – can truly be a life-changing experience, especially with a little bit of planning.
Flash-forward to Copper Mountain, CO July 5th: It’s 8am, you’re tired, excited and slightly nervous as you enter the huge dome. As you lay down your mat and take a seat, you look around and realize that you are surrounded by 500 other beautiful people. Take a deep, meditative breath: this is going to be a great weekend.
Yogis and yoginis, if you commit to showing up to an amazing gathering like Wanderlust, you will have an unforgettable time.
Here’s our top 10 tips to make sure you have the best yoga festival experience ever:
1. It’s ok to go solo
In fact, most people prefer it. Because it’s true what they say… if you put yourself out there just a little past your comfort zone, the benefits are that much greater. Last year, three close friends promised they would meet me at Wanderlust in Lake Tahoe. In the end, not one ended up coming. This left me completely on my own, able to march to the beat of my own harmonium the entire time.
2. Share a room (preferably with strangers)
After hours of yoga in the summer sun, you definitely want to be close enough that you can run back and shower at some point in the day, especially if there are nighttime festivities (and there will be). If you are going solo, don’t go searching for a single room somewhere on Airbnb. NO. You want to stay with a crew of people, preferably a few other solo travelers. Here’s how: First, you gotta get social. Go on Facebook and look for a Wanderlust group – there is one for each city – and look for posts about sharing a room. If no one has a place to offer up, consider taking matters into your own hands and reserve a suite at a nearby hotel. (I put full faith into this plan and ended up meeting four life-long friends). Go back onto Facebook and put out the word that you have an amazing room with space for five other amazing people. (Disclaimer: Make sure you talk with each person on the phone first to feel out their vibe before making any decisions. Us yogis can be a little quirky sometimes.) And to make things easy and committed, request or send payment easily via Paypal. If budget is a big factor, try Couchsurfing for a cool, cheap local option.
3. Pack to move
You are going to be in yoga gear all day long, but at some point each day, you’ll want to kick back in some regular clothes. Get organized and bring a backpack – then you’ll have enough space for water, an extra change of clothes, towel, hat, snacks, etc. There’s usually ample water around for refills and a place to purchase other drinks, food, clothes, etc. Just be prepared to pay festival prices. Strapped for cash? Why not shamelessly stock up on the free samples certain vendors will inevitably have (hint: Luna Bars make a great, power-packed snack and just so happen to be a big WL sponsor).
4. Take front row
Unlike high school, at yoga festivals the cool kids sit in front. That’s because they’ve got mad respect for the amazing teachers who come through and want to soak up the experience as much as they can. So don’t be afraid. Roll your mat out next to someone who you think you’d vibe with and introduce yourself. What do you have to lose?
5. Talk to everyone
Like someone’s mat bag? Pants? Bike? Tell them! Just like exercising a muscle, it gets easier and easier to talk to random strangers. Strike up a conversation wherever feels natural and see what comes of it. More often than not, we are all in the same boat and that person will welcome the connection. After all, yoga festivals are all about commUNITY.
6. Say YES
Remember that movie Yes Man? Jim Carrey was under a spell that made it impossible to say “no” to any opportunity, no matter how big or small. So when someone you meet invites you to the pool, breakfast, or just to hang out under a tree, say yes. Be open to new experiences and people, with no expectations attached. That’s the yoga in action, my friends. Just say yes.
7. Connect on the spot
When you meet someone you really connect with, don’t expect to see them around later. There are 20,000 other people to look through. Send each other a text, save contact info, friend on Facebook. Then follow through (see #6).
8. Try new teachers
Understandably, we all have favorites. Just know that every teacher has something amazing to offer, something new, something that just might bring you to tears or that “ah-ha” moment you’ve been waiting for. So be open to walking into the smaller tent and checking out a new teacher. You’ll hear all about the sold-out classes later anyways.
9. Give your assana a break
These are 16 hour days, people. You have the opportunity to take five intense physical yoga classes a day. And maybe you love this. Maybe you can take it. Just know it’s the fastest way to festival burnout. Give yourself permission to stay out late, sleep in, go on a hike or two, chill in the pool with new friends, and skip a class because you’d rather just eat local, organic yummies under the shade of a tree. This is also a great time to check out workshops to take you deeper into meditation and pranayama practices, or attend talks from teachers covering topics from social responsibility, business practices, charity organizations and more.
10. Carry your schedule with a grain of salt
Most large yoga festivals require pre-registration to classes, many of which sell out before the festival doors open. If there are teachers you want to study with – and there will be many – make sure to register for their classes in advance. Go crazy and fill out your entire schedule. But here’s the deal: once you are there, keep your ears peeled for buzz about other teachers and other classes. Oftentimes, the most memorable class is the one you decided to go to last-minute with the person you just randomly met at the Luna Bar booth.
Not the festival type?
Check out our upcoming events – no schedules or Luna Bars required.