John Friend: The 2011 Wanderlust Experience
John Friend, founder of Anusara yoga, headlined our events at Wanderlust Vermont, Wanderlust California, and Wanderlust Las Vegas.
Here is his blog about his summertime Wanderlust experience and what he took away from each event...
I have been honored to be a part of the Wanderlust events since their inception in 2009. It is so powerful to come together with like-hearted people, and I leave each Wanderlust event truly shifted.
Wanderlust Vermont was certainly a unique event. Because Stratton, Vermont is pretty far from any airport, once I arrived it really felt like a retreat. We had our Anusara Grand Circle before the main event and many yogis from around the world gathered. With the mountains, the grasses, and the rich land of Vermont I felt very close to nature at Stratton.
During the main event that followed the Grand Circle, there was quite a lot of rain, which actually made it more fun. Everyone was in excellent, even playful spirits because we all just went with the flow of the downpours from sky. I feel the extreme weather brought everyone closer. Being outside together under the big tent helped to bring a deeper connection not only with the earth, but with one anotherâ€¦ and our community came together in a strong way. I reveled in the palpable union of the gathering in Vermont.
Wanderlust California gets better every year. I was part of the inaugural Wanderlust event in Squaw in 2009, in 2010 I just had to stop by even though I did not teach at the event, and I taught there again this year.
Before the main event, our Anusara-Inspired and certified Anusara yoga teachers gathered. It was truly inspiring to me to have hundreds of our teachers coming together from across the globe. Each early morning started the day outside in the fresh mountain air under blue skies, where we meditated and practiced pranayama. To me, these external conditions were optimal to be able to tap into the essence of being and to revel in it.
This year Wanderlust California took things to a whole new level, with more artistry, more scholars, more participants, more music...Yet even with the expansion, I felt an underlying cohesiveness amongst the students, teachers, artists, and musicians. It is so fulfilling to me to get to teach over 650 people at one time and experience such connection with everyone.
The music was fantastic, as well. Todd Boston and Ramesh Kannan accompanied me while I taught my classes. They are not only incredible musicians technically speaking, but they are sensitive to the flow of the class. When they play, they attune to the teachings of that class. It helps to bring me deeper into my own heart, so everyone is able to revel in the teachings together in a very profound way. There was fantastic music throughout the weekend, so I danced and enjoyed myself with everyone!
I also loved Village Anusara. Again, this year took things to a whole new level with the diversity of artistic expression that was offered in Village Anusara. To have the actual artists there both in attendance and working on their art in Village Anusara reveal the process of creating sacred art to everyone there. Charles Ekabhumi Ellik and his crew actually set up a workshop and were creating beautiful Yantra right before our eyes!
The entire event from the yoga, to the music, to the art, to the spectacular setting was all deeply inspiring, and this inspiration has carried with me in the months following the gathering.
At first glance, Las Vegas is not an easy environment to practice yoga. In general people are there to be wild and the focus is outward. The entire town is set up to be extremely stimulating. So, to have a yoga event there was a challenge. However, we used the positive talents of Las Vegas to create what I felt was a truly moving environment. The technical aspects of production - lighting, mulit-media, audio-video capacities - are some of the most advanced in the country. For our morning class inside the Cosmopolitan, we had Ekabhumi's Yantra on display around the room along with 3 large screens behind the stage projecting images of Sacred Geometry while I taught on that very subject!
The afternoon poolside class was one of the most unique settings I have ever taught in, with students on their mats around the pool. We could hear club music pumping from next door. Yet each student was right with me during both the beginning talk and the asana practice. Together we created a sacred space for real transformation. Many students were quite moved by the whole experience, which reinforced to me the power of collective intention no matter what the external environment.
I feel each Wanderlust event is so unique, yet unified in the intention to bring people together through yoga, music, and the local offerings. I always leave deeper in my own heart.