When I first learned I had won the Wanderlust Sage Tickets, courtesy of Yoga Travel Tree, I was both thrilled and scared for the adventure. I had begun my own yoga journey just a few years earlier and while I still consider myself a beginner, yoga already holds a very dear place in my heart. While I have considered going to a yoga festival or pursuing Yoga Teacher Training in the past, I never felt advanced enough to actually do it. After winning the tickets, I started researching more about Wanderlust, the classes, the locations, and talking to my current yoga instructors about their experiences at large festivals. At one point, I remember having a conversation with my yoga instructor shortly after winning and saying - ‘Shit! I am going to need cuter yoga clothes!’, Thankfully she reminded me that I was going to a yoga festival and everyone would be working their asses off for several hours a day and basking in the glow of their sweat so the clothes really didn’t matter. I was also worried because yoga has always been a very personal and introspective experience for me and I was worried that by attending a large scale festival, the authenticity I knew and loved about yoga would be lost. I can’t tell you how wrong all of these fears were and how amazing the Wanderlust experience turned out to be!
After winning the tickets, doing some research and finding a yoga loving friend who was willing - ‘To Travel for Yoga’, we decided to attend the Wanderlust Austin festival in early November. Upon arrival, I was still nervous but my first class with Gioconda Parker, put me at complete ease. She taught a class that helped yogi’s get back to the basics and find their bliss. She taught us to feel the correct position and placements for each posture, explained how to break our bad yoga habits and she did all of this with a playful, mindful energy. Instead of going through the motions of a sun salutation, she challenged us to really feel each movement. In my first two hour class at Wanderlust Austin, I found myself learning - learning about the heart center, connecting the meridian lines, my own alignment and how to move my breath. I left the class completely ‘blissed out’.
The day progressed from one amazing class to another. Elizabeth Davis taught a class entitled ‘Not All Who Wander Are Lost’. The session was a blend of hiking, meditation, yoga and reflection all wrapped into one. She encouraged us to be present, in both mind and body and to really listen – whether the sounds were from the city, from nature or from our hiking partner. Each of us in the session was paired up with a buddy for the hike and Elizabeth challenged us to answer deep questions to one another, questions like - “when was the last time you felt true joy?” And “when was the last time you were jealous?”. We had uninterrupted time to express these stories to our partner and to feel the emotions that rose up. Then we would release these emotions to the world, often with a hug do our best to move on. Elizabeth echoed a teaching from her father to the group stating, “You need five hugs a day for maintenance and 10 hugs a day for growth”, so we hugged it out a lot. We would pause to do yoga in random places – like the side of a busy road or next to a bandstand set up. The intention of this was to let go, be free, enjoy life, be spontaneous and to live and experience our lives in every moment. One of the best parts of doing random yoga on the street was when a woman walking by, ran over to the group, took off her shoes, proceeded to complete the yoga sequences with us and when we were done, she put on her shoes and walked away. This woman was the embodiment of all of those elements that Elizabeth had been teaching that afternoon.
These first two classes at Wanderlust Austin set an incredible tone for the rest of the experience. During the rest of the weekend, I continued to take classes from amazing teachers. I was challenged to really feel the Law of Detachment, which is something I had not connected with that deeply before. And although I struggle with heart openers, I took a whole class entitled “Free Your Heart” – which forced me into a multitude of heart openers, while asking me to evaluate my passions and my purpose. I can honestly say that this class really fucked with me mentally. For several weeks after WanderlustAustin and even still - I keep reflecting on the messages from this class and feeling a real need to connect my passions with a global purpose. While I am still working on those things, I am also remembering to breath, to let go, to live in the moment, to be free and to find my bliss.
After all those amazing classes and teachers, my Wanderlust Austin experience ended by doing - ‘Flow & Float -Yoga on a Boat’. Saying goodbye to Wanderlust couldn’t get any better than spending a crisp morning, floating around Austin, in the amazing sunshine, being told that yoga is a playground and participating in a let loose, unpredictable, fun flow. I entered Wanderlust Austin with excitement and nerves but after such a reflective experience I believe that was part of a journey which is shaping my future. I find myself looking at my home, my family and my work with a different lens, trying to determine where to let go and what to embrace and trying to live each moment.
Thank you so much to Yoga Travel Tree and Wanderlust Austin. Because of this opportunity, I have the tools in my mind and my heart to honor myself, to better respect my loved ones and to continue to seek bliss.