Yoga festival reaches the summit at Stratton
STRATTON -- Ever get the feeling you are living in two places at once? You may be working on one task, errand or project, but your mind is off someplace else.
Yoga may hold one solution to the problem of divided focus, said Jo Kirsch, an instructor who runs Heart of the Village Yoga studio.
"We spend so much time living this duality -- thinking about one thing and doing something else," she said. "Yoga is all about being present -- and we use the breath as the main tool to help us be present -- to link the mind and body together."
The word "yoga" after all, means union, of the mind, body and spirit. And many people find relaxation and a deeper feeling of wholeness when they stretch or practice the basic "poses" of yoga and focus on breathing.
Finding that mental sweet spot will be on the minds and bodies of several thousand people at Stratton Mountain the weekend of June 19 to 22, when the Wanderlust Yoga Festival touches down to take over the wintertime ski resort. It will be the the fourth consecutive year that Wanderlust, which has been organizing similar yoga festivals nationwide since 2008, will include Stratton as one of its venues.
Jo Kirsch will be one of those attending. She taught a meditation class there last year, but this time around, with a business to attend to, she will be going as a participant, she said.
"It's a wonderful festival, whether you are new to yoga or an experienced practitioner or somewhere in-between," she said. "It's a great introduction because there are a fabulous array of teachers up there offering a real variety of classes."
The basic line up and program of events will be similar to years past, said Jeff Krasno, one of the co-founders of Wanderlust Yoga. Dozens of classes and instruction sessions, will range from Zen Impact running to standup paddleboard yoga (where practitioners will do yoga while floating on paddleboard on a pond).
If time has gone by and visitors feel a off their game, they may want to check out "Conditioning for Slackers," conducted by a group called -- what else? -- the YogaSlackers.
That's the day shift. At night, because there is a limit to how much even the most dedicated can practice yoga in one day, comes the entertainment. Some will appear during the classes. Hannah Thiem, a well-known violinist who has performed with the likes of The Rolling Stones and Kanye West, will be providing musical accompaniment for some of them, as well as performing Saturday night.
Other entertainment acts will include DR Drez, Emancipator and The High and Mighty Brass Band, which will bring its combination of New Orleans funk, R&B and hip-hop to the event. That should help unify minds.
The idea is to make the festival fun and entertaining, as well as spiritually nourishing, Krasno said. They are expecting an average crowd of 2,500 to 3,000 a day -- representing about a 10-percent increase from last year -- to flow through the resort, which will be used to a greater extent than before. Hiking excursions will take place as well, which have been very popular in the past. The arts and crafts exhibits will also be expanded, he added.
Also new this year, a teacher-training segment known as "Voyager Immersion" will begin Sunday, June 15, before the crowds start to arrive. These small group sessions will reach out to those who are ready to make the leap from student to teacher.
The growth of the event -- and the Wanderlust Series in general -- has followed the overall growth of the "yoga lifestyle," Krasno said.
He and his business partner and co-founder, Sean Hoess, got the idea for staging what came to be the Wanderlust festivals when Krasno's wife, Schuyler Grant, started organizing yoga retreats in exotic locations. As they met more yoga practitioners, the idea for merging that with entertainment in comfortable settings took hold, and they drew on their background in the music and entertainment business.
"More people are doing yoga. but are also concerned with other things we address, like farm-to-table dining experience, organic food, living sustainably -- all of those trends we see playing into a growing culture at large," Krasno said.
Beyond that, many of those they are expecting to see up on the mountain that weekend may be hoping to escape "digital fatigue," he added. Everyone needs a break from 24/7 social media at some point.
"Building up your community of friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter is important to some people, but I think that what more people are learning is that there's no replacing really being with your true community, and I think Wanderlust provides that," he said.
If you go ...
What: Wanderlust Yoga Festival
When: 8 a.m. Thursday, June 19, through 4 p.m. Sunday, June 22
Where: Stratton Mountain, Stratton, Vt.
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