Wanderlust California: The Vibration of Elevation

Lately,  life has been all about practicing the power to create my reality with the law of attraction. As the journey to Wanderlust proved, I am getting better and better at it. I had planned to leave at 7am to make it in time for Ashleigh Sargaent‘s Anusara class, and woke up late. Overwhelmed with all I had yet to do, I began to rush myself with the internal hammering of a general. More! Faster! Go! Go! Go! I hadn’t felt this type of stress since I lived in New York City, and having just returned from a visit there, I felt I had slipped back into the old attitude, thanking God I was headed to a Yoga, Meditation & Music festival, where I could re-center, relax, and ground. My entire journey from Berkeley up through the glorious Sierra Nevada mountain range to Tahoe was permeated with the thought “I NEED TO SLOW DOWN.” I could feel it in my sore body, strained mind, and tired soul. As I cruised 80MPH up past a sign announcing 3000 ft. elevation, traffic suddenly came to a  complete stop. My entire body shrieked. Eventually, people began to get out of their cars and play frisbee, walk their dogs, and sit on the highway divider overlooking a beautiful stream. Then I realized… this is exactly what I wanted. I have been indefinitely slowed down. So I got out of the car and began to do down dogs on the divider, releasing my stiff limbs. I sat still to take in the natural beauty of the lush mountains surrounding me, and the calming, serene water below. I realized these are the things I miss out on when I am go-go-going. There is so much beauty in every moment that I don’t see when I am operating at hyperspeed. The spontaneous actions that arise out of moments when there is “nothing to do” are the most creative, greatest joys in life; stretching, making conversation, writing, breathing deep; taking in the subtle, beautiful, infinite happenings of the natural world around you. I’m glad that I willed myself into this standstill, because it allowed the rediscovery of the simple truth that Nothing is Something Worth Doing. And with that Shpongle song playing in my head, I dissipated traffic and zoomed into the next adventure: Wanderlust California.

I pulled into the pristine Squaw Valley Ski Resort about an hour later, curious as to how the dynamic of a festival at a ski resort would be. It turned out the be a perfect fit. The layout of the resort created an ideal vortex of vendors, stages, workshops and art; in addition to the permanent shops & restaurants, which were very much in alignment with the festival’s theme of conscious living; featuring gluten-free, raw, vegetarian, and organic fare. There was also a food co-op unique to the festival, representing some of Tahoe’s local delights, along with my personal favorite festie vendor, Lydia’s Organics. In addition to the smorgasbord of delectable edibles for sale, Luna Bars, Snyder’s of Hanover pretzels, Honest Tea, Ben & Jerry’s and Vita Coco were giving out free samples all weekend long, keeping us fueled and refreshed. The highlight of Wanderlust’s food experience was definitely the farm-to-table dinner, hosted 8,200 feet up in the High Camp rotunda of the majestic Sierra Nevadas. Each night, people would ride the gondola up to partake in a carefully crafted, local, organic meal, comprised of the freshest and finest flavors and ingredients, locally sourced from Carson Valley and Grass Valley. I was lucky to arrive just in time for Friday’s “Winderlust,” wine and beer samplings from local, organic, and biodynamic vineyards and breweries. It was a classy affair, as we were serenaded by gypsy jazz performer Stephane Wrembel (the artist behind the incredible soundtrack to Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris), and treated to sumptuous dark chocolate samples to complement the exquisite wine. This was the first festival I’d ever attended solo, so I took advantage of the wine tasting as the perfect time to make new friends, and ended up in a roaringly fun conversation with an Austrailian-Bulgarian couple and some brilliant techies – such a quintessential California moment. We delighted in our shared experience as giggling, lubricated luminaries buzzed in and out of our circle, imbibing with open and free-flowing conversation. The wine tasting was held at sundown, with the temperature quickly dropping as our beloved blazing ball slipped under the horizon. I skipped to my car to change, and was greeted by a blonde, green-eyed fairy named Krissy, offering handmade hip bags “perfect for festivals.” I was actually in need of one for my upcoming virgin adventure to Burning Man, so she opened up the trunk to display her creations. This is one of my favorite parts of any festival – the inspired, handmade art that is so much more unique and meaningful than anything you can buy in a store. I was truly impressed with her work, and bought a gold silk bag lined with tiny blue robots. VivaWild is the name of the brand just launched by Krissy and her partner, Lee. I highly recommend checking them out if you are in the market for stellar festival gear. We had an amazing connection, and I left feeling totally enchanted; elevated by the presence of those who pursue their (viva)wildest dreams.

I was dizzy with the altitude, wine, and excitement for Shpongle; my very-favorite-most-beloved-over-the-moon-for-it music. Simon Posford, one half of the dynamic duo that brings such sensational sonic beauty into being, has been touring with a new Shpongletron: a 3D projection mapped pyramid-like structure which he sits inside of, while multi-dimensional, wildly psychedelic imagery comes to life via the master VJ Xen. Simon DJ’s original productions created by himself and the godfather of trance music, Raja Ram. Every DJ set provides new iterations and remixes of their classic, masterpiece productions. This set was well received by all – I found it exciting and experimental, while Simon himself called it “a bit chaotic” – but chaos is the divine primordial condition, after all. Simon and I and a group of lovely friends went to see Eskmo at Bar One, the sexy late-night venue; filled with shakti-charged dancers shaking it out, and revealing revelers swirling in bliss. I met quite a few people who blew my mind wide open with their intelligence, wit, and mystical, spiritual groundedness. After gaping in awe at the fullness of expression that Eskmo has recently stepped into – this being the first time I’ve seen him sing out loud and clear, without any electronic vocal processing – I felt deep gratitude for his performance, and headed back to Truckee to rest up for Saturday’s surprises.

The morning began with a trip to the media lounge, curated by one of my favourite designer brands, Free People, where I received some beautiful gifts and a photo pass for my camera. I wandered around the grounds, capturing as many priceless moments as possible – such as little kids getting gonged by The Conduit, the famous traveling group of vibrational alchemists who play Planetary Gongs and Tibetan Singing bowls around you while you sit inside them, facilitating a state of deep relaxation through automatic meditation. I myself had to get gonged (for the third or fourth time now) after photographing the huge smiles on these kids’ faces. The Conduit is like Diagon Alley, instantly transporting you to another realm. I discovered more vendors behind the huge group of hoopers led by Hoopnotica – and came upon a gem of a booth, the phenomenal Teeki – high class fashion made from recycled plastic bottles. One of the West Coast’s most prolific visual artists, Jesse Noemind, has teamed up to design a line with them, and I couldn’t resist picking up one of the stunning pieces, a lightweight hood printed with a beautiful pattern of Ganesha and the Flower of Life. Jesse gifted me 3D glasses which turn every light into a heart – one of the coolest magic tricks of all time. Delighted with my new gear, I bounded off for MC Yogi & Amanda Giacomini’s “Mythic Yoga Lounge Lecture,” where the popular rapper-singer-storyteller and his lovely wife recounted the ancient tales of India’s deities, along with renowned teacher Sianna Sherman. This was particularly fitting, as MC Yogi’s art is to tell the myths through song, with his album Elephant Power being one of the most popular and beloved in the yoga community. I myself have been listening to it over and over again for more than two years, and am eagerly awaiting his upcoming new release. They closed the class with a series of Sun Salutations, pranayama and grounding meditation. The breadth of yoga, meditation, movement and arts classes at Wanderlust was incredibly exciting – not to mention that they were taught by some of the world’s most renowned teachers, including Seane Corn, Baron Baptiste, Shiva Rea, Wayne Dyer, Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa, and Rod Stryker, whose class was widely praised by teachers and attendees alike.

After picking up a handmade parasol supporting an indigenous population in Sri Lanka, hand carved mother-of-pearl earrings, and a shiny gold bathing suit for Burning Man, I heard the phenomenal harmony of the Earth Harp resonating from across the grounds and flew over to the world’s largest stringed instrument, gracefully played by Andrea Brook and accompanied by singer Onyay Pheori with multi-language percussionist Ricardo Hambra. The Earth Harp workshop included a yoga class along with their performance, which must have been filled with over 60 people, at least. It was a beautiful sight, all of these people flowing under the fantastically gigantic strings, the ethereal sounds of the music, and the majestic mountains rising in the background. There, I met up with my good friends Eryk Giambrone and Nikki Lee Drumm, displaying her impressive artwork by the Prana Shala stage, near Oshan’s elegant Om Shan Tea dome, the Somatic Oasis, and the Quantum Playground. I brought one of Nikki’s pieces backstage – a giant, in-depth portrait of Bob Marley, which was highly praised by Ziggy Marley‘s guitar player Beezy Coleman and their crew. MC Yogi went on, with playful, funny, and descriptive visuals VJ’d by his wife Amanda, and a fantastic team of acro-yogis, slack liners, contortionists, and members of Quixotic, the wondrous ensemble of aerial acrobatics, dance, fashion, film, music and visual f-x. The crowd was wowed and the energy rose higher and higher with every song. It was such great fun to be awed and inspired by the many different performers, and to watch the diverse crowd spiral up into outer realms of happiness. All day, I had heard people getting excited for Ziggy… and the crowd swelled as anticipation rose for his set. His performance delivered positive, uplifting, intelligent messages, groove-ready melodies, and easy, light energy – available for anybody to get down with and enjoy – just pure, shiny, happy fun. As Ziggy sang “Love is My Religion” and “We Are All Brothers and Sisters,” I went back to my car for a heavier jacket and discovered the battery had died. Immediately, all of my parking lot neighbors came to the rescue – and luckily, the car across from me was inhabited by a mechanic. I felt fully, deeply supported and surrounded by Love… with Ziggy as the perfect soundtrack in the background, expressing my experience through his lyrics. As the show came to a close and I drove off into the horizon, I felt honored to have taken part in this gathering of the best of the Western Yoga world. Wanderlust California was truly refreshing, inspiring, and exciting… a modern-day yogi’s dream come true.

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