By Alden Wicker
NYC plays host to an incredible array of good parties on the Fourth of July. Last year I watched the fireworks from a raised platform in Williamsburg as they burst over the East River, set to the soundtrack of an incredible DJ stationed it seemed almost right beneath them.
So why, given the choice to do something like this again, would I choose to fly to Aspen that weekend?
Wanderlust is a summertime festival that celebrates mindful living. It travels around the U.S. (West Virginia, Vermont, Aspen, California, Hawaii), Canada (Quebec, British Columbia) and Australia, bringing together yoga and meditation instructors, musical performers, speakers, artists and chefs for a transformational retreat. This has been on my list for a while, so when my friend who lives near Aspen told me to come check out the Aspen-Snowmass edition, I was totally game.
Win Two Passes to Wanderlust Snowshoe
By the way, in a fun coincidence, Sustain Condoms (remember my interview with the co-founder, Meika?) is giving away two three-day passes to Wanderlust Snowshoe, which is at the ski resort in West Virginia. Click the image to enter to win!
I’ll be covering the festival for EcoCult, so expect to read my reviews mid July. Until then, here are the things I’m looking forward to:
Immersive, Fresh, Challenging Yoga
There are almost 30 instructors slated to lead classes at the Aspen wanderlust. Elena Brower, of course, is a familiar name to anyone who has dipped a toe in the yoga world. But there are a variety of classes with both international and local instructors that are already filling up. Yeah, it’s too late to get into AiReal yoga, sorry.
- Yoga for singles
- Arm balancing
- Yoga for dancers
- Chanting and spirituality
- Spine, hip, and back work
- Therapeutic yoga
- Black Light yoga
- Yoga ending in stargazing and foot rubs (Full, obviously)
- Therapeutic yoga
- Partner yoga
- Yin and restorative yoga
It’s nice to know if I need a snack, there are two health conscious places to get it. The True North Cafe by TOMS features a full-service espresso bar fueled by TOMS coffee, with a Moroccan-style seating area. When the sun sets, it transforms into a cozy acoustic lounge with pop-up performances, storytelling and live music. The Food Co-Op serves up local, organic, sustainable eats like craft kombucha, superfood smoothies, plus raw vegan, gluten-free or paleo options from local Aspen vendors.
I’ve already bought a ticket for the Farm to Table dinner on Friday, a prix fixe, “chef-crafted meal sourced from local ingredients. This dinner marries a local food ethos with a fine dining palette, all set with the backdrop of North America’s most magnificent views. Local farms provide seasonal produce and sustainably farmed meats, prepared by the tastemakers of the local food scene.” The $108 ticket includes sake and beer. What more could you want?
I’ll personally be doing Fourth of July itself off the grounds with friends, so I’ll (sadly) miss the sustainably-sourced and/or vegetarian barbecue on Saturday. But that looks pretty good, too.
Personally, I’m an electronic music lover aficionado. (Seriously, my other blog is about electronic music.) And there are definitely some acts I’m down to see, like Tasha Blank, who plays upbeat Deep House here in NYC at Deep House Yoga at Verboten and morning raves.
DJ Drez does some fun, spiritual interpretive remixed beats that will be perfect for the festival.
Beatgypsy likes her Trap and Dubstep, so she’s not my style. But I know she’ll appeal to a lot of yogis and yoginis. I’ve personally heard rave reviews of the electric violinist Haana. And Bluetech produces slow, dub-type, cosmic music that will be lovely to my ears after a meditation or good, long stretch.
Oh, and this guy called Moby is playing. I saw him once in Paris and he was pretty good I guess. I might check him out.
Meditation Like I’ve Been Meaning to Do
I’ve managed to work myself up to five solid meditation sessions a week. But I can’t wait to really dig into it in a few of the the up to 11 sessions per day on topics like loving kindness, seeking refuge with ourselves instead of outside sources, Buddhism, chakras, breath, and even just getting started with a meditation practice. Having read Lodro Rinzler’s book A Buddha Walks Into a Bar, I’m especially pumped for his session about integrating mindfulness into our modern, hectic lives. (Teach me how to ignore Facebook!)
Some Much-Needed Nature Time
I would be remiss if I didn’t take advantage of the beautiful mountain setting. Each day instructors lead several hikes and jogs out into nature, some with themes like Pranayama(breath work) and some just simple walks and jogs. I’ll probably stick to the three-mile runs, but if you’re a runner, a seven miler is available.
Workshops to Help Me Figure it Out
If all yoga and meditation seems a bit too serious, there are more lighthearted alternatives to mix it up. Yoga related dance classes about learning willpower, to improve your yoga moves, and to just have fun offer another way into improving your practice. And at the end of the day, use balls and rollers to work out any remaining tense spots.
Nerding Out on Mindfulness Topics
Each day brings new and different talks and sessions. I’m especially interested in the talk about Buddhism and Sex, a session on how gut health affects your whole life, the science of positivity and gratitude, and a talk on how we can leverage technology to improve our own wellbeing, as well as the environment.
Other Interesting Stuff
There are some pretty interesting perks to this retreat, like slackline, hula hoop lessons, and paddleboard. (Oh wait, paddleboard is completely full. Probably because it looks amazing.) Anyway, there’s also a photo walk, a sake tasting, and biking and rafting adventures that cost a little extra.
Get on It
If you haven’t noticed, there is a theme here. I procrastinated a bit to sign up because I was saving up for a plane ticket. But the tastiest sessions are filling up, so if you interested in going to any of the Wanderlust festivals this summer, I suggest you start gathering up your girlfriends right this minute. And let me know if you’ll be there, so we can be mindful together!
About the Author
Alden is the founder and editor-in-chief of EcoCult, covering all things sustainable in NYC and beyond, including fashion, beauty, food, and events. She’s been published in Refinery29, EcoSalon, xoJane, Well+Good, Huffington Post Green, Narratively, LearnVest, Societé Perrier, and Greatist. She also runs a blog about electronic music with her boyfriend called Under the Sound, and is a co-founder of the Ethical Writers Coalition. Check her out on Twitter at @AldenWicker and Instagram @EcoCult