Reflections from Wanderlust Whistler – My First Yoga Festival
Written by Jeremy Vaughan
Anticipation. The one word that describes the build-up before my first Wanderlust Festival experience. I knew little of the festival other then it was full of yoga and meditation, but that is the great part about going into the unknown – you have no expectation of the experiences you are walking into. You have nothing to compare it to, it’s all totally new to you and your mind. I went into the festival with an open mind, one of wanting to learn and soak up as much as possible from this experience and put it into my daily life back in Vancouver. The setting was perfect: Whistler, BC. You are instantly lost in the mountains up there, with so much beauty surrounding your every possible move, my mind was already calmed in that nature setting.
On the drive from Vancouver to Whistler, you travel along the Sea to Sky Highway, which is one of the most beautiful drives you can take. With blue waters of the Howe Sound on your left and the towering mountain peaks on both sides of the road acting like a channel to guide you up to such a sacred place that is Whistler. Along that drive I was preparing my mind and body for what I was about to endure for the next two days, as much as I could since I didn’t know exactly what I was walking into for each class and the environment I was about to be taken into. I couldn’t help but smile the entire drive up, thinking about how grateful I am for being able to partake in such an experience like Wanderlust Whistler. As I drove into Whistler, I calmed my mind down to open it up to what I was about to walk into.
As I carried my bag into the Village towards the hotel I was staying at with friends, I put my bags down and took a look around at what surrounded me. I looked at the mountains, and then at what was right beside me; a stage being set for the concert happening that night with music from Michael Franti. As I got settled into the Whistler atmosphere (which is a chill, inviting vibe), I joined my friends and strolled through the pathways of the Village towards the “Front Yard” set up in front of the lululemon athletica. With people walking around with yoga mats everywhere, it was apparent that a yoga festival was happening here. We arrived at the store and I connected to some friends at the store. The “Front Yard” was such an inviting space with chairs, wooden bench seats, a teepee with pillows underneath it to lay on, arts and crafts area, and live music being played all day and into the night. From the store we wandered over to the Wanderlust Check In at the conference center, when we entered the building it was like entering a whole other world, instantly I felt the love and inspiring atmosphere where everywhere you looked you saw laughter, smiles, and people in their element. I knew then I was in the right place and that Wanderlust Whistler was going to be a great and profound experience for me.
My Saturday at Wanderlust didn’t have me doing any classes, I ended up travelling with the Distrikt Movement crew to a lake in Whistler for some good vibes and cold drinks. We soaked in the sun while talking life and about random ideas that popped into our heads. It was a great start to my Saturday up in Whistler, I was deeply relaxed and ready to take in a full day of classes on Sunday, ready to receive the practices of yoga and meditation, something I have been wanting to dive into more. The concert that night was Michael Franti, someone who has great music and a need for spreading love around the world by his music and energy. Looking around during the concert which was outside at the Olympic Plaza, the same stage I walked by earlier, I saw so many different types of people. From the true yogis, to young parents who brought their kids into the this environment to introduce them to yoga and meditation, to the wanderers who it was their first time at something like this but ready to take everything in, every last bit of an experience because why not? At least that’s what I think.
My Sunday started early which isn’t a new thing to me, I usually am up by 6 or 7am these days which I at least find normal. Me and my good friend Sara (co-founder of Social City Networking INC.) grabbed a coffee at 6:30am and wandered into the woods of Whistler, down to a glacier river flowing so gracefully but so powerfully through the environment. We stayed down by the river for some time to reflect on life and drink our coffees. We then met up with another friend Mara to begin our first Sunday class, an 8am Meditation Hike in the forest led by Garth Stevenson, someone I had no idea about, but had heard that his music was incredible. As we set off onto the hike from the village into the woods which took about 20 minutes to arrive to our destination I was taken back by the movements of everyone, everyone was here for a reason, and that reason was different for every single person. We arrived at our place of meditation in the woods, and Garth began to set up his cello and tell us his story on why he was there in front of us, sharing his music and passion for life with all of us. I got settled into as comfortable of a spot as I could on a rock and began to breathe deeply, calming my body and mind down to allow myself to begin meditation. He started to play his music on the cello and I was instantly captivated by it, the music was like nothing I had heard before, mixed in with the natural sounds around us like the flowing river, birds chirping and random people running on the paths down below us. I immediately felt gratitude fill my body, I began to think about my past and how I had gotten to be so lucky to be sitting here at this moment. In deep meditation, I had such visual experiences – faces of people I love and that are no longer around popped out, flashing hearts kept coming up in front of me like it was a sign that I had love all around me, no matter the situation I was in. One of the most visual experiences I had during the 40 minute meditation was of my Grandma Gladys, with her sweet smile popped up in front of me, instantly giving me a moment of joy and happiness. Tears started to come from my closed eyes as I remembered how full of life she had been when she was around, her generosity for anyone in her life. It’s from her that I get my wanting to help my community in my passion and fueling my drive towards it. The 40 minutes flew by and I opened my eyes, looked around at the people by me, we were all here for a reason, to dig deeper into ourselves and find out more about who we truly are and who we want to be in this crazy thing called life. During the walk back out of the woods I was silent, recapping about what I had just been through, I couldn’t have asked for a better start to the day.
The next class on the list was Carolyn Anne Budgell’s Rebel Heart: Meditations for the Soul at the top of Whistler Mountain, the location deemed “The Lookout”. We took the 20 minute gondola ride up to the top of the mountain which was quite incredible to the say the least, 5 of us in the gondola connected with raw conversation and had some good laughs, putting the mind in a good place. The class was incredible, from the lookout location, we could see mountains everywhere around us, breathing in the fresh mountain air while connecting with ourselves at such a deep level. My mind was at ease and I felt grounded during the entirety. We had moments where we were able to write things down that were on our mind while meditating, which I loved, since often we don’t write down the things on our mind and they can easily be forgotten about in the chaos that is sometimes life. Carolyn brought up such great points, such as bringing awareness to our bodies and mind, being aware of what is happening to your mind and body separately. How are you feeling? Is your mind alright? Does your body feel alright? Isn’t she so right!? We often forget to check in with ourselves on how we are doing, so focused on what is happening around us rather than what is happening within ourselves. It resonated with me, and has encouraged me to dive deeper in meditation as a daily activity. I left the class feeling so empowered now in my own meditations, to really dive into myself, my own self reflections, checking in to see how I was doing, making sure I do not have self-doubt within myself on what I am showcasing for the world around me. So often we beat ourselves up not with what other people say, but with what we tell ourselves. We are in a constant battle with our own minds to tame its thoughts and doubts about itself in abilities to go after new adventures, to keep on the path that you going down, and to be just happy. We left the class on a high, such a natural high. We didn’t want it to end and were already on the mountain so why not keep it going! We took off towards the ski lift up to the very top of Whistler Mountain. Once we got up to the top I split off from the pack, onto my own adventure on the top, to a place where I could settle down for self-reflection, meditation and writing. I was on top of the world it seemed like, with so much expansive space around me, captivating my mind in its beauty, my mind opened up like a flood gate, emotions pouring out onto my notebooks pages in writing, I felt in my element being on top of that mountain. It is such a recharge for my mind and body to be in such a beautiful spot. Again, I was struck with how grateful I was to be given the opportunity to be in this position, to be able to relax for the weekend and not think about anything but self-help.
Coming down from the Mountain top we experienced some great food in the Village (from friends at Luvo Inc), prepping our bodies with fuel to get us through our next class which was “Yogi Tribe”. A 90 minute experience which I will never forget. It was held in what was deemed “The Greatest Place”, an expansive room with a stage. We set up our mats preparing for a yoga experience but what we got was so much more than just yoga. Yogi Tribe is comprised of MC Yogi, Amanda Giacomini, DJ Drez and Marti Nikko. The experience started with MC Yogi and his wife Amanda Giacomini, gathering all of us up close to the stage in a seated position, telling us of their story and why they were in front of us at that very moment. From their love story and the freestyle rap, it was such a refreshing way of taking a Yoga and Meditation experience in. We moved into meditation with MC Yogi Freestyle rapping while we meditated and connected to our chakras, which was a great way of experiencing the chants of each chakra. We then moved into a rap he busted out to take us through a yoga session after we were back onto our mats, all the while DJ Drez was taking us through a musical ride with his beats. I was having such a fun experience of this, being surrounded by what I believe was over 800 people in this room, all open to this experience and diving head first into it with no judgement on one another, laughing, smiling, enjoying every second of this beautiful life we were living and connected to. They had us do partner yoga with the person next to us, which ended up becoming a dance party with all of us linked together with arms over top of each other’s shoulders. We even got into DJ Drez and MC Yogi’s next album by chanting out “DJ Drez, Drop that beat!!” while they recorded us. I honestly didn’t want the class to end, I was having a blast.
In less than 36 hours, Wanderlust Whistler had captivated me and gave me such a deep and profound experience for me to take back into my daily life. I thought to myself, why I haven’t been here in the past years!! If you are open to experiencing new adventures with an open mind and heart, you never know what is going to be brought into your life. From the people you meet, to the experiences you have, it is all a learning experience and a great one at that. I would recommend Wanderlust for everyone, not only for the experience but for also bringing awareness to the body and mind connection, and the self-help that is needed by ourselves daily. So go ahead, walk into the unknown, experience new things in life, it could have a profound impact on how you live your life from that day forward, it could open up doors for you that you couldn’t even of imagined. It will connect you with the world in an entirely different matter altogether, and in the end leave you practically speechless.
Info about Jeremy, and JVFitness:
JVFitnessJeremy’s interests in community started from a passion of helping people. From Jeremy’s childhood onward he has always been helping the community, from mowing senior’s lawns when he was a child to helping our community come together in the quest for redefining how we look at health and wellness. JVFitness focuses on not only the physical side of health but also the mental side, each needs to be healthy.Starting a class for troubled youth is the next goal for JVFitness, because it’s these next generations that will shape our world for generations to come. You can find JVFitness making people sweat and having fun all over the Vancouver area with classes focused on running like Night Flights, a class at Eastwood Cycle “The cirCUT” Saturdays at 8am, and a couple others. For more info, check out the Facebook page JVFitness. Jeremy grew up in the Fraser Valley where he played soccer all through his child and teenage years. He has always had a passion for adventure and the outdoors, having traveled all over British Columbia camping and hiking. He is a current Human Kinetics Student at Capilano University where he is honing his passion for helping people in many circumstances. He is currently also writing a book on how visualization can help your performance and your daily lives.
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Social City Networking INC.: SOCIAL in the CITY 2015