Last Wednesday I left DC early with yogi friends and a giant duffel bag full to the brim with vegan snacks to-go for the 2013 edition of Wanderlust Vermont at Stratton Mountain. I had no idea exactly what to expect, but came prepared to sweat a lot, meditate, and go with the flow. It ended up being a truly a soul shifting experience full of aha! moments, dancing, laughter, silence, chanting, and almost too many downward dogs for me to handle. Healthy food was also in abundance and I seriously thought I had landed in healthy living heaven because raw live coconut water, juices, superfoods, kombucha, and gluten-free vegan pizzas were in abundance. On the way to Wanderlust we stopped at a food co-op in Brattelboro Vermont and found Kombucha on tap! While in Brattelboro, I also met a world exercise champion name Bill Kathan who holds the record for the most jumping jacks in an hour and also did over 2 million jumping jacks in one year! Some of my favorite healthy living goodies available at the festival included the cacao lip balm from Navitas Naturals, Coco Libre coconut water, and the kombucha bar from Kombucha Brooklyn. The kombucha saved my life not only because it was amazing, but also because there was no time to eat between classes and it kept me full until dinner time.
Although I have been practicing regularly for a couple years now, I’m not one of those bendy, I can do-it-all yogis. Parts of my body are still very tight, but with time I’m sure things will continue to loosen up. So part of me had imagined all of these super intense yogis doing headstands, scorpions, and everything in between while I opted to lay in shavasana or take child’s pose. When I got there it was so refreshing to see such a wide range of yogis from beginner to masters each getting on the mat wherever they were and doing the best they could. The real mission of practice was driven home for me on the first day, in my final class called “Unleashing Your Potential” which was taught by Dave Romanelli, who goes by yeahdave. Early on in his class he mentioned that yoga these days can seem to be about who has the best outfit, the latest gear, or who can bend the farthest, but at the end of the day if you cannot apply your practice in real life, it means nothing. In short, some of the bendiest people can still be some of the biggest a&$holes in real life. It was important for me to remember and hear that and acknowledge myself. Even if I can’t bend the farthest, I do know that yoga has helped to dramatically change how I am in crisis situations or under any kind of pressure, especially over the last five years.
I can’t exactly say one particular class was my favorite, but there were a few standouts. Ayurveda 101 was completely intriguing to me. I am of the mind that every person is unique and that one diet cannot suit everyone, including being raw vegan. Ayurveda is the old school science that really helps to break down the different energy types and also how we can each fall off balance due to environmental, emotional, or dietary stresses. On my second day, the morning began super early with a very challenging class led by Seane Corn which led to a serious emotional breakthrough. After that every class I took on Day 2 was related to kundalini yoga, which was brought to the West by Yogi Bhajan. Although I was not expecting this immersion, I was thoroughly inspired and pleasantly surprised by the day and learned some of the basic chants and meditations involved in Kundalini. By Day 3, I couldn’t move my arms. I decided to go all out in Gabrielle Berstein’s kundalini class in the AM and then skip any additional challenging asana classes. When I cut class I opted for hiking with friends and climbed up to the top of Stratton Mountain. In the evening we got to dance the night away to one of my favorite musicians, Femi Kuti.
So did I find my true north at wanderlust? I would say, yes, emphatically. The entire experience allowed me to focus and dig deep inwardly, introduced me to new disciplines that I am now yearning to study, and also gave me time to ruminate on whether or not my personal dreams and goals are aligned with my inner compass. “Finding Your True North,” to me is about reassessing your values, and being willing to get on a new path or readjust your angle if you’ve gone off course. The best thing about the process is that whatever happens you can trust you are being led in every moment to the people and experiences that will take you further along your life path. -XoXo Raw Girl
To see more photos from my trip find me on Instagram @ TheRawGirl !