It was the middle of summer and I was sitting on a California mountain, meditating with fellow yoga lovers while a wandering bass player lulled us into a deep, hypnotic trance.
Vinnie Marino—a short, 50-something dude who the New York Times has dubbed the “Yoga King of Los Angeles”—waded through the class of 1,000 yoga fans, purring pearls of wisdom. “Neil Young is now in ecstasy,” he joked. “Let the music rolllll over you.”
And so I did. In fact, that’s exactly what everyone does in yogic heaven, a.k.a. Wanderlust. Held every summer in Lake Tahoe’s Squaw Valley, this four-day festival was attended by 14,000 yoga fans last year. After a hectic Toronto winter, I was at the largest yoga and music festival on the planet, searching for inner peace and ways in which to connect with my fellow beings. I recall thinking that as I inhaled, closed my eyes, gazed inward toward my chest and exhaled slowwwly. My consciousness shifted, it seemed, right into samadhi, or bliss. Then I remembered there were 60 classes a day and the stress whooshed back.
My mind should have been empty, but instead I plotted military-like strategies that would allow me to dodge the eco-conscious musicians, art exhibits and fair-trade coffee hawkers that stood between my class and the organic food marketplace.
I confess I’d been thinking about devouring a Lovin’ Burger and green powerball since my first 7 a.m. downward dog. Can I do it and still get to Tending the Sacred Fire (with my yogini hero, Shiva Rea!) and Tantra Yoga (with Rod Stryker) by day’s end, I asked myself.
I won’t tell you how much my Type A personality packed in on Day 1, but the sun did eventually dissolve into a starry sky under which thousands of us yogis danced, sporting helmets of flashing lights, while Cirque du Soleil-style performers swirled incandescent hula-hoops around their necks like comets whizzing through the night. All under a huge concert bandshell reverberating with the beat of “Say Hey (I Love You),” sung by Michael Franti himself.
Yes, inner peace can rock.
Copper Mountain, Col. (July 5-8)
Squaw Valley, Calif. (July 26-29)
Whistler, B.C. (Aug. 23-26)
Telluride Yoga Fest
Telluride, Col. (July 12-15)
Joshua Tree, Calif. (Sept. 6-9)