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Review: Wanderlust Tremblant

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Review: Wanderlust Tremblant

IKIGAI contributor Stefanie Young is fresh back from this summer’s Wanderlust Tremblant.
Here’s what she made of this ever-popular yoga and wellness festival…

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Photo by Chris Eckert for Wanderlust Festival

I am in Canada for the Wanderlust Festival taking place in Mont Tremblant, Quebec. It’s the August bank holiday weekend, a full moon rising and the line up for the four-day event is packed full of top yoga and meditation teachers, musicians, and lifestyle and wellness gurus.

The first thing I notice about Wanderlust Tremblant is the relaxed atmosphere. You could unfurl your mat pretty much anywhere and no one would bat an eye. A friendly vibe runs throughout the village, from volunteers to vendors selling Canadian-made yoga apparel, down to local establishment owners. Everyone is happy and buzzing, the sun is out and it’s as though they all started their day with a quick salute to it.

First launched in 2009 in California, by a husband and wife team and their best friend, combining their backgrounds in yoga and music, Wanderlust festivals are retreat events set in some of the world’s most beautiful, natural surroundings. The intention: to help people go on an inner journey to “Find their True North” – the mantra of the festival, meaning their best self, their purpose, their ‘ikigai’.

Photo by Chris Eckert for Wanderlust Festival

The key, according to Wanderlust co-founder Jeff Krasno, is the “hyperlocal quality” to the events and keeping session sizes small, no matter how much Wanderlust grows, and it has over the years, to 65 annual events across 16 countries. This is evident in how natural surroundings and infrastructure are incorporated into each event, as well as the relative sizes of the sessions, ensuring that as far as participants are concerned, it’s less about the spectacle and more about an inward journey.

Having never tried SUP Yoga before (yoga on a paddle board), I start with an early morning class on Lac Tremblant. Dede Monette, our instructor and founder of Vancouver-based Tofino Yoga, guides us through a gentle vinyasa flow, hitting just the right note between challenging and enjoyable. It’s a multi-sensory experience, with melodic handpan drum tones echoing out across the lake, a cool breeze washing over us and water on the skin. All this set against a spectacular mountainside backdrop. Lying back on the board for the first time, hugging knees to chest and then into a starfish (with hands and feet dipped in the water) is a delight. Looking towards the sky, I feel my entire body release as I’m cradled by both the board and the water. This alone is therapy.

Photo by Chris Eckert for Wanderlust Festival

Next up is an ‘Alchemy of Breath’ session with Annie Langlois – a breathwork teacher and hatha, vinyasa and kundalini instructor. The purpose of the session, also known as conscious connected breathing, is to raise self-awareness and promote love and compassion through steady inhalations and exhalations.

We form a ‘human mandala’: two circles, one inside the other and look directly into the eyes of a partner for several minutes, before moving around the circle to face a new pair of eyes. The aim is to maintain the conscious breathing, all the while holding a space for the person opposite, without feeling the need to react to any emotions that may arise.

By increasing the supply of oxygen to the brain, we are raising our ‘prana’ or energetic life force and this can be transformational, both physically and emotionally. It is the most mind-blowing experience of the festival and, for the rest of the weekend, I feel as if I’m connected to everything and everyone around me.

Californian-based musicians Dan Martier and his wife Laura run a deep Sound Journey meditation involving an hour-long bathe in gongs, chimes, crystals and Tibetan bowls. The moment the first instrument chimes loudly overhead, any residual anxiety shifts from my body as though the instrumental therapy is tuning me up. Besides relieving tension and stress, sound therapy is said to help with depression, high blood pressure and insomnia, removing blockages from the body and invoking a deep state of relaxation.

As I emerge from these two consecutive sessions, I do feel some kind of alchemical shift. It’s only been 24 hours but already there is a sense of the “Wanderlust feeling”.

There are outdoor hula hoop and circus skills sessions with a more playful yoga practice, including tight-rope walking, and the AiReal sessions with leading aerial yoga expert and former Cirque performer Carmen Curtis are a dream. The hammock serves as a supportive prop, “giving you the space to go deeper in your practice.” Created by California-based Curtis at the request of her students for ‘savasana in the hammock’, this slow practice includes a gentle warm up, followed by some mild inversions that can aid in “reducing swelling, stress and migraines”. We are soon guided into the cocoon of our brightly-coloured silk nests and invited to stretch out completely, before coming to rest in a sort of hanging savasana. It is the most relaxing, liberating sensation. I am quite literally, hooked.

Photo by Chris Eckert for Wanderlust Festival

Late afternoons and early evening sees the main square of the pedestrianised village of Mont Tremblant come alive with music. Yogis bounce to tunes mixed by world-renowned DJs, with a combination of locals and weekenders bobbing away on the perimeter. Progressive rock band with an orchestral edge, Lakes of Canada, draws a good crowd, while musician, surfer and yogi, Yotam Agam blends some great beats for the Silent Disco.

I recognise the truth in that statement that Wanderlust is more of a feeling than a photo or a hashtag. The rapidly increasing commercial side of yoga is not what this festival is about. The highlights occur in the moments, within the walls and spaces of where the teaching and learning takes place. While I am a yogi among thousands in this small resort town this weekend, it is a very personal experience.

You leave Wanderlust feeling fulfilled, exhausted and energised, with a healthy desire to continue on your own path, all the while exploring one or two of the practices a little more. I’d say the original intention to create a safe and inviting space, in which people can explore beautiful surroundings as much as the inner self, is definitely working.

Photo by Chris Eckert for Wanderlust Festival

wanderlust.com

Words: Stefanie Young

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