For those of us living in major cities and urban areas it’s hard to break away from the ties that bind, the commitments of work, kids and general life. When you get in the car and head to the Wanderlust festival there’s uncertainty, second guessing yourself about whether you can really afford the time away.
Conversations such as “I’m only doing the yoga, not the meditation” or “I hope it’s not too wacky” go on in the car. We’ve all heard of Woodstock (if you remember it were you really there?) and you may have attended a health retreat, a mardi gras, a music festival or a spiritual get together of some sort.
But what goes on at Wanderlust? It’s all a big mystery. You don’t know where you’re heading but you’re about to find out if you need more incense or less alcohol.
What’s Wanderlust All About?
Leave the incense and the alcohol behind and turn up in your gym or yoga gear, bare feet welcome. This festival is in a category all of its own. It’s all about enjoying life and maximising every aspect of your health, fitness, relationships and life in a completely centred and non-kooky way.
The vibe is that natural excitement people have for life, all types are welcome as well as all ages. Before you even arrive download the Wanderlust app and determine your own schedule from a comprehensive list of activities and talks. It makes for great road trip conversation planning the way there and utter brilliant dissection and discussion on the way back.
Tick each activity as you plan your Wanderlust day or click for more information on the presenters who enjoy popularity in their chosen field and are faithfully followed globally online and often in person.
How Many Ways Can You Enjoy Yoga?
If you were under the impression yoga was all about salutes to the sun on a yoga mat, think again. Wanderlust allows you to sample ridiculous amount of variations on yoga, mainly performed outside in Thredbo’s gorgeous breeze and sun.
Slackline yoga might look like balancing on a tight wire, but the reality at Wanderlust falls more in line with holding one particular yoga pose (or trying your best to) on a one inch soft strap pulled tight between two posts then giving your teammates a turn at the pose. It’s a fun way to meet new people and try something new.
At the end of the 90 minute session it is fascinating how exhausted your body feels. Who could have picked that? I thought running was the only exercise that made you feel that way. Mind officially expanded? Big tick on that front.
If you prefer running to yoga, Wanderlust has that too with a twist towards mindfulness. Called prana run the focus is on the breath, something we all forget to do well, especially when we run.
All around Thredbo Village participants were trying acro yoga, inversions, arm balances, backbends, hips and twists or hiking yoga, stand up paddle board yoga and every other way yoga can be enjoyed, and enjoyment is the operative word.
Elena Brower, who enjoys an incredible following around the world lead a truly unique class. High up on the mountain top of Thredbo looking far across the valley to the horizon in each direction, participants spread yoga mats, breathed deeply and donned blindfolds while she lead the class through a series of yoga poses, instructions and life lessons.
Even as the sun beat down and the breeze ruffled the hair the class maintained relevant to everyday life. Not once did you think ‘ok if you live in a commune’, as you might as you wander through the main street of Nimbin. Elena’s class was life affirming and oozed strength for going forward into life. I came home and bought her book, the Art of Attention.
Wondering About Meditation?
“I’m ok with yoga but I don’t want to meditate” said my partner accompanying me to Wanderlust, more accustomed to Fox Sports, reading the Sydney Morning Herald and not burning incense.
Needless to say, after two days of Wanderlust he’d unwittingly incorporated many aspects of meditation into his life without noticing. Nothing was kooky, overwhelming or alienating. All activities were inclusive and incorporated a little (or sometimes a lot) of meditation as a prelude or as a seamless part of the session.
The 5.30 pm group meditation session was wordlessly incorporated into the day’s activities as a prelude to our Saturday festival meal. It seemed as natural as saying grace in the 1950s. One look around the group meditation session showed me all walks of life from surfers, stay at home mothers and corporate types, to avid yoga devotees. All were just as keen to lay down the mobile phones for a few minutes to come together to relax, at the very least.
A Bit of Everything
If you like music festivals, live music or just having a boogie there was certainly something to appeal to music lovers at the Wanderlust festival. The best part was quite unexpected, how up close and personal participants could get to the artists themselves.
Xavier Rudd looked straight at me four metres away just as I happened to have my fingers in my ears, hopefully he wasn’t personally offended, I was just standing too close to an on-stage amplifier. The designated venue was the perfect location, it could fit a lot of people yet the elevated stage made artists visible to all.
Breadth and Scope of Activities
The great thing about Wanderlust is that each session gives you a little taste of a whole wide world of activities. Since we wanted to do a massage course without having to sign up for the whole year we took a Wanderlust session in Thai massage. It would be easy to come alone, as part of a personal development journey or in between travel, relationships or jobs as the teachers in all sessions encouraged people to mix and talk, but you could huddle together reassuringly if you preferred.
Mixing let you meet people who were right into their particular yoga, slackline yoga, acro yoga or SUP yoga were especially popular. You could also try self-massage with balls or horse riding.
In a wheelchair, have a sore back, neck or head cold and just don’t feel like tangling yourself up in knots today? There are plenty of talks, called a ‘speakeasy’ on offer in the Hotel’s conference room ranging from Limitless Living (touching on the meaning of life) to Sex Up Your Social Media (how to take better photographs on your Smart Phone addressing light, composition and subject).
The sessions are just one hour long and the information to take home stays with participants long after the festival shuts up shop and goes home. The opportunity for networking is there with participants exchanging business cards or openly sharing ideas for businesses.
Wanderlust as a festival is thoughtfully geographically laid out. You are transported to another place while keeping your feet firmly planted on the ground. Each venue has a different name, The Highest Place (the mountain top), The Mindful Market (fashion, jewellery and ethical shopping stalls), The True North Cafe (a cafe inside an Indian teepee, sit on cushions surrounded by fairy lights and enjoy your chai latte) or The Greatest Place (music venue on the grass with elevated stage). The Quiet Place, The Village and The Mothership all act as thoughtful venues for interesting goings-ons.
In our major cities sometimes we feel as if our hands are tied with our limited contact with indigenous people. The Wanderlust experience allows us to experience a few unexpected facets of Aboriginal culture, just a taste really, but it leaves you with a sense of curiosity to discover more.
During Ana Forrest’s Tracking Transformation session, in which we used yoga and breathing to explore how far we could make changes in our life she invited everyone to their feet to learn a simple aboriginal dance from an indigenous colleague. He included explanations of each movement and encouraged participants to be connected to the earth and environment surrounding us, just as the aboriginals did who were the custodians of the local land. We were treated to a didgeridoo performance.
Each session across the festival gave a verbal nod to the aboriginals and their ancestors. It was respectful and integrative and worthy of all festivals nation-wide to do the same. It’s really not that difficult.
Wanderlust Food Scene
Forward thinking or back to traditions before mass marketing came along, or a bit of both. You could purchase Kombucha, fill up water bottles with ionised filtered water, eat vegetarian food or ecologically thoughtful snacks and meals.
As a location for this type of thought provoking, spiritually nourishing celebration there is no better location than Thredbo.
The layout of the valley gave participants a sense of intimacy with the mountain towering overhead on two sides. The fully established village means plenty of bars, restaurants, toilets and infrastructure for everything anyone needed. The weather in February in Thredbo tends to be gorgeous with brilliant green grass and trees, warm air and blue skies.
There is so much space and greenery all around the village, the atmosphere remains reflectful and would do so if there was tenfold the amount of festival participants. Nobody was drunk and rowdy, no one stumbled around out of their mind.
Perfect for who?
Wanderlust is not limited to a certain demographic. Great to bring along your teenage son or daughter right at that age of seeing how adults ‘do their thing’. Great for singles who love getting out in the outdoors but lack like-minded people, great for couples who don’t get a lot of time together. Great for groups of friends who are yoga lovers or just love a good time. Groups of guys who are open-minded, progressive and interested in life. Great for people at all stages of a change of life or just want to make a note or a few tweaks of ‘where they’re at’ in their life right now.
Luckily Wanderlust enjoys a worldwide following and holds festivals in amazing places all around the world. What a dream to choose a location in Aspen, Oahu, Australia’s own Sunshine Coast, New Zealand or Whistler and bask in the carefully chosen amazing location there too.
Failing that, or if time or money presents as an issue, Wanderlust also hosts one day events. Sydney hosts one at Bondi on April 16, 2016 with meditation, a 5 kilometre walk or run and a group yoga session. They call it a ‘Mindful Triathlon’, and if it’s the closest you’ll ever get to a traditional triathlon that’s pretty cool.
The one day Wanderlust Festival is $45 a ticket, pretty good value considering the value you come away with that pays back again and again. The Wanderlust Festival runs for four days and has different price points depending on whether you come for one, two, three or four days, or just for an evening of music or for a particular activity that has piqued your interest and may serve as a time to come down, experience the vibe and the food, see how it all works for a possible booking next year.
The Wanderlust Life
On the Wanderlust website you can sign up for the Wanderlust newsletter and read all the articles that inspire you and help you live your best life. Buy Wanderlust products and cook Wanderlust recipes. Keep abreast of upcoming festivals, events and news. As the festival prescribes “Find Your True North”.