After four om-filled days at Wanderlust on the Sunshine Coast, Lucy Slight lifts the lid on what goes on at a yoga festival.
I’m in the front seat of a Jucy Rental people mover, leaving Brisbane airport and bound for Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. Seated in the far back are two fellow journalists and in the middle of us all, straddling his harmonium, is Josh. Josh is talking animatedly about the diet he’s been on for about three months – it’s called Sattva, which is Sanskrit for ‘purity’. He explains that on the Sattva diet he avoids salt, pepper, garlic and onion. It seems he’s been existing on steamed vegetables alone. As a passionate eater, I’m appalled. This conversation doesn’t bode well and I’m wondering whether my Wanderlust experience will consist of four days of hunger and feeling way out
of my depth.
As for yoga, I love it but I go to classes at Les Mills amid the thud of bar bells being dropped on the floor above. It is not a Zen zone. And while I’m au fait with the fundamentals of nutrition, wellness, exercise and the myriad benefits of yoga, after the aforementioned car ride, I know I’m about to enter a new world in which I’ll either become completely immersed or feel totally removed.
Fast forward to Wanderlust Day Two and my heart is so full during Chanting 101 that I cry. I’d been told by previous attendees that tears at Wanderlust are inevitable, but I didn’t think they’d be mine. By the end of Day Two I’d done seven different classes; each more overwhelming than the last – leaky eyes and tingling spine included. There was Rockstar Vinyasa, which involved flowing to the sounds of KISS, Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Troggs, and finished with a chanting circle where we wrapped our arms around each other and sung Imagine by John Lennon; a stand-up paddle board yoga class where we were tethered to a rope in a lagoon doing downward dogs, warrior poses and even inversions for an hour-and-a-half; and a ‘Big Chill’ class on Mudjimba beach where 100 lycra-clad yogis mindfully celebrated the sky and the ocean and meditated to an electric violin.
I was immersed. So immersed that on Day Three I did Yoga for the Vagina – 1.5 hours dedicated to our lady bits. This involved a series of asanas traditionally done with a jade egg inserted. Thankfully, Tamra Mercieca,
the instructor and founder of gettingnaked.com.au, talked us through the poses sans egg.
I had promised myself to sign up for classes that I knew would make me feel uncomfortable, and after lady-bit yoga, Acro Vinyasa (a combination of yoga and acrobatics) and Zen Walking Meditation, I had lost all sight of my ‘comfort zone’.
And that’s what the Wanderlust experience is all about. Why spend four days doing tree poses and chaturangas when you can learn about the mechanics of your body, do bow pose while being air lifted by a sweaty stranger, or freestyle dance on a white sandy beach at sunset. The beauty of Wanderlust is its ability to make everything fun and participatory. No, I didn’t really want to stare deeply into a stranger’s eyes for 10 minutes and convey – with my eyes – that everything is going to be okay, but if everyone else is doing it, then why the hell not?
If all this sounds a bit too much, you’ll be comforted to know that the festival embraces everyone and their sensibilities. As well as numerous different yoga classes, there was a beautifully curated Farm to Table dinner by nutritionist Lola Berry, a clean-up of Coolum Beach, hoola hooping classes, performances by Donavon Frankenreiter and Sneaky Sound System and a market place boasting a rainbow of colourful yoga pants, equipment to improve your yoga practice, jewellery, organic food and coffee.
Sure, there were some interesting characters and awkward moments but with my palms placed in prayer at my third eye, I can tell you it was a positively life-changing experience. I’m just not going to be giving up salt, pepper,
onion and garlic anytime soon.