Christine’s Wanderlust Flyaway Journal
Christine and Tom’s Wanderlust Adventure in the Mountains
We were so excited to hear that our Wanderlust Flyaway winner, Christine and her husband Tom, had an experience that “calmed our minds, replenished our deeper selves, energized our bodies and connected us to one another”…
Who we are:
Christine, prAna’s Wanderlust Flyaway prize winner, and her husband Tom. We’re both casual yoga practitioners & outdoor enthusiasts. Christine’s always had a passion for movement and dance, and has been into hooping over the past year. Tom comes from a long history of Chinese martial arts practice, is an avid paddle-boarder, and had just started playing on the slackline. We’re at the festival from Somerville MA, where we’ve left our 7-year old daughter (also a hula hooper) at home. To say that we were excited to win would be an understatement! Being at Wanderlust has been both a gift and a blessing.
The outbound journey:
Door-to-door, it took us over 12 hours of travel time. We arrived in Squaw Valley at 1:30 am PST early Thursday. Waiting for the airport shuttle we met the first of the many sweet ‘Wanderlusters’ – identifiable by their yoga mats. After being cooped up in planes for so long we were ready to stretch and play in the mountain air.
The inward journey & Wanderlust explorations:
Knowing we were getting in late, we opted against any 8 am classes. Our first sessions were separate – Christine doing a yoga-martial arts combo called Ninjananda and Tom going for slackline with the Yogaslackers. The slackline work pushed Tom’s nascent skills. Up to this point, Tom has worked pretty much on basic balancing on the line; and this class introduced more challenges including arm balances. During the class, he met a great couple, dubbed our ‘Wanderbuddies’, who we continued to see during the festival. For Christine, the mixture of martial arts with yoga was a reminder of past dance work. We followed these sessions up with a meditation class (in hindsight, mediation later in the weekend would have been a nice break). Our final class was literally washed out by a freak hail storm. When we say freak, we mean freak: thirty minutes of continuous hail stones the size of nickels and dimes. We discovered that yoga mats make the perfect protection in a storm while we took shelter with a lovely yoga instructor from CT.
After the storm there must be a calm. That was when we made our first journey up the mountain, a calm presence over Squaw Village. We rode up the tram to the ski trails on the summit and took in the breathtaking views of the valley. The rides up and down brought a thrill (both fearful and exciting) especially when the tram rocked and swayed when transitioning between supports. At the top, the meadows were dotted with wildflowers and colorful tents housing some Wanderlust campers. However with menacing clouds in the distance threatening another round of storms, we shortened our stay at the top.
Lined up like kids up for an amusement park ride, we were ready for the descent. Back in the village we swung by prAna’s tent to check in with Jasmine, who sweetly coordinated the details of our trip for us. Each time we passed the tent, she and the rest of the staff replenished the hot and sweaty passersby with fresh melon slices chilled on ice. This was always a welcome respite for the yoga crew streaming past.
We finished out by catching the last half of the awesome & inspiring Wanderlust Spectacular, with amazing movement arts & music.
Still being on east coast time helped us wake up and get going for an 8 am hike. Though on the shorter side, it got us into the wilds of the Sierra Nevada’s, and generally got us going (hello high altitude!). Afterwards, we kicked around the stalls, taking in free samples and re-energizing before our next event.
That next session was a fantastic yoga class led by Shiva Rea. The class was dedicated to breast cancer awareness and prevention. Shiva called out that every three minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer. She connected closely with everyone under (& outside of) the tent. We set the stage for the class by developing collective syncopation via egg shakers wielded by 200+ yogis. Her class focused on deep flow, drawing attention to her repeated beginning, middle and end of our continuous postures. Beats by DJ Drez reinforced the rhythmic connectivity of the asanas.
Next up, we crashed a hooping class (making up for our hailed-out one) led by Michelle Nayeli Bouvier, who had assisted during Shiva Rea’s session. So much fun and joy with such a joyful instructor. The class reintroduced the intricacies of circulating such a basic thing around the axis of our bodies. A delightful way to laugh at ourselves and feel a sense of glee when things clicked into place, if ever so fleetingly.
Class-wise, we finished out by riding the tram up to the Highest Place to catch Chillwave Flow at the aptly-named setting called the Lookout. Here we were under a tent decorated with Tibetan prayer flags, overlooking the rugged scenery with Lake Tahoe in the distance. This class was, as its name suggests, down tempo and featured a great playlist of ambient & chill tunes (great to hear some faves like Bang On A Can, Massive Attack & Thievery Corp).
With four classes under our belts, we felt tired yet surprisingly energized at the same time. We zipped down to the base level, cleaned up, then made or way back to the top for the Farm-To-Table dinner, sponsored by Eating Well magazine. Nice food and even more delightful company with fun table-mates (and some kickass blood orange kombucha served in champagne glasses). After that, a stroll through the music offerings gave us a chance to see a bit of RJD2 before calling it a night.
After such a full Friday, we took it easy on Saturday morning and started the day by touring the market when it was less crowded and indulging in more samples. Christine at the last minute got in to Seane Corn’s session, Detox Flow. She especially liked the way Seane lectured (in non-lecture-y way) about the power of eliminating the toxins we hold in our bodies—physical and emotional—as she led the class through a challenging set of postures and had us thinking about our kidney and liver functions. On the other side of the village, opting to improve his nearly non-existent inversions, Tom did a suspension yoga class. Using a hammock-like sling with handles, the class worked on modified postures building up to flipping upside down. By the end of the class so much blood had flowed to Tom’s brain that he felt spacey and wiped out—in a good way.
Instead of going for our planned hike, we lazed around and drifted through the village catching some more of the live music. Another Shiva Rea session was next, Roots Rock Yoga, Vinyasa and Base Power. This class incorporated Shiva’s personal practice of the Indian martial art Kalaripayattu, and boy was it physically intense — and so was the dub-like music. We had plans to peel out early in order to make it to the tram for the stand-up paddleboard yoga class. This was even before it started to rain and puddles were forming under our mats.
So due to the rain, SUP yoga was starting to feel like it wasn’t going to happen. It had already been moved from Lake Tahoe to a mountain pond, and now the tram was on hold because of the risky weather. Tom was borderline frustrated because of his interest in paddle-boarding but we both decided to go with the flow. So instead we shifted our focus and went to an open session class that was being offered to everyone called Seeds of Change. This was the peak of our Wanderlust experience. This class—almost a yogi tent-revival—was jointly led by a variety of Wanderlust yoga instructors. The class was part-yoga, part call for social action, part tribal dance and ended with a powerful 7-minute healing meditation, which had the 300+ participants circled like a mandala. Tears, joyful ones, came to our eyes during the session (and still do as we reflect on it). This has us wondering if there is a way to engage the calls to action while at the festival, by involving environmental and social justice organizations. Finding ourselves in the midst of the power of Seeds of Change was one of lucky happenstance, reinforcing the idea that things do sometimes happen for a reason—even winning the chance to attend Wanderlust.
That evening: dinner, a little music, lots of packing, and then to bed. Three days in, and our sense of time had become something of a blur. A certain sadness hit as we realized our Wanderlust time was drawing to a close with one day remaining.
Sunday, our final day
Since we missed standup paddle-boarding (SUP) on Saturday, our rescheduled time was first thing in the morning. The con: getting up SUPer early after a late night. The pro: being on top of the mountain SUPer early. Drowsily at 7:20 am we grabbed our coffees and made our way up the mountain. The sky was slightly overcast and rain looked imminent, but those of us who came out for the class were ready to go and full of anticipation. Many of us were curious (and perhaps a bit apprehensive) about what it would be like to do a downward dog or warrior pose on a paddleboard without plunging into the water. Our instructors, Donna and Robert, earned our trust right from the start. Who wouldn’t trust a teacher confident enough to paddle with a guitar on his board? Who wouldn’t relax into the calming voice of a teacher singing while afloat? Despite being on the water, they both seemed grounded and were so grateful to be sharing their love of their practice with us. During class, a couple of members impressed us with stable headstands. Another person got our attention when she toppled into the pond. We both stayed dry during the class itself. As classmates disembarked, Tom experimented by trying some Tai Chi on the board and ended up in the water.
Next up was our own brief meandering hike on the mountain. We got a last chance to enjoy some solitude and explore the scenery. This is when we really noticed the effects of the altitude. Christine’s short jog on the flat mountain terrain left her breathless and tired for a stretch. Before we took the tram down, we allowed our bodies —and lungs — to rest while watching a yoga class accompanied by Hannah Thiem’s ethereal violin. The synergy of the movement and the muse became a different breathtaking experience.
We took in some of Polyphonic Spree’s show before doing our final sessions. Our last classes were Christine doing Shiva Rea’s Unifying Rhythm Yoga Trance Dance and Tom doing Slackro. The return to the slackline was mixed with the partner yoga known as acro-yoga. It was also a pleasure to re-connect with the ‘Wanderbuddies’ for this last course. Tom was definitely feeling more confident on the line. At the end of the session Sam, one of the Yogaslacker leaders, went through his amazing ‘slacksana’ routine flowing through yoga-like postures on the one-inch wide line.
Christine wanted to end Wanderlust with a cathartic dance experience. Trance Dance with Shiva Rea, was exactly that. Shiva Rea, with the help of a skilled DJ, led the group from being centered and calm into an ecstatic frenzy. A surprising moment was Shiva commanding all of the “brothers” to take their shirts off. When everyone on the dance floor began to slow down, her energy was relentless—and she can really move! Like her namesake, she proves herself to be a master of the dance.
At the end of our last classes, another round of dark skies moved in and more rain! It was finally time to accept that the weekend was over and we had a shuttle to catch.
The journey home:
With flight delays and layovers, our return home took longer than it did getting to Wanderlust. Leaving the beautiful setting, wonderful community, and constant stream of bodywork was hard. However there’s something nice about being back home, and of course being with our daughter. Interestingly, she had attended an arts fair with some friends and had her forearm henna’ed – the look would have fit right in at Wanderlust.
What will we carry forward?
It took us many days to remove our bracelet-passes from our wrists — we wanted to keep the physical reminder of Wanderlust with us. Wanderlust calmed our minds, replenished our deeper selves, energized our bodies and connected us to one another. For this, we are grateful to prAna for giving us the opportunity to experience Wanderlust at Squaw Valley. We look forward to another Wanderlust adventure!
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