Wanderlust Festival 2011: From A Staff Point Of View

Written by Alyssa Ritch

My alarm chimed at six am every morning. Time to go to work. The air was heavy with Green Mountain mist as I made my way to my post, where I was yoga section manager.

I treated my section with the same care that I do my home. I was responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of one of Wanderlust's sacred yoga rooms. I turned on the lights, opened the windows for fresh mountain air, lit incense from two different corners of the room, and turned on the welcoming, blissful music of Garth Stevenson.

Once the room felt ready for practice, I met with my volunteers and instructed them on how to check in the yoga students for class. They took their posts and soon the smiling yogis arrived, thrilled and eager to practice with some of the best yoga teachers in the world. Schuyler Grant, Elena Brower, John Friend, Dana Flynn, Seane Corn, Suzanne Sterling, Raghunath Cappo, Anne Marie Kramer, Dechen Thurman, just to name a few...

The students put down their mats in an orderly fashion and filled the space with noise and laughter, becoming a little more hushed when their instructor walked in the room. Class began, starting off slow and balanced, but often ending in ecstatic song and dance. For four days I would watch five yoga teachers a day fill my space and transform the moods of every person in the room. After each class filed out, I repeated my ritual of preparing for the next class. And so it went until 5:30pm each day. In the evenings, however, I was allowed to remove my festival walkie-talkie and enjoy the mind-blowing musical experiences of Andrew Bird, Michael Franti and Krishna Das, to name a few, and let's not forget the group meditation with Deepak Chopra.

It rained the first two days, but I barely noticed. Once the clouds parted, the celebration became an outdoor one and the stars filled the night sky while yogis danced below them. When the day came to an end, I was exhausted but smiling. I would crash for a few hours before I'd have to rise and do it all over again.

I have since returned to Brooklyn from the lush hills of Vermont, but I am still buzzing from the experience. Wanderlust, for those of you who don't know, is a festival experience of yoga, music and arts, tied together in a breathtaking natural environment. I attended the festival in Tahoe, California, last year, which was jaw-dropping because of the massive mountain peaks, but there was something really comforting about the lush and humble mountains of Vermont. Maybe I just feel more at home on the east coast, but Vermont always makes me question why I live in New York City. This experience was my first time actually working a festival, but being a part of making it happen made me feel like a true yogi.

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