In our ongoing exploration of non-playa-related West Coast festie offerings, we're very stoked to be heading north to BC next weekend for Wanderlust Whistler — here's a little story we wrote for our local alt-weekly newspaper here in Bellingham:
If downward dog, “activating the heart chakra” and Surya Namaskar are common phrases in your lexicon, you’re not alone.
According to a recent study by the Yoga Journal, 20.4 million Americans practice some form of yoga, a surge of interest that has given rise to a $27 billion industry, including an 87 percent increase in spending on classes, clothing, videos and retreats over the past five years.
Here in the Fourth Corner, the yoga scene is likewise thriving, with more than a dozen studios scattered throughout Bellingham and the county, as well as classes being offered at gyms, schools, parks and clinics. Teacher training workshops, sound healing and kirtan concerts and last winter’s successful series of Sacred Bass Sessions—events combining asana practice, art and electronic music—all demonstrate a local hunger for yoga-inspired movement, spirituality and community.
Just in time for peak summer, one of the most expansive yoga festivals in North America is coming to our backyard.
Wanderlust Whistler is a five-day gathering at the scenic home of the 2010 Winter Olympics—three hours north of Bellingham—that offers dozens of yoga classes, workshops and lectures, outdoor recreation activities, organic wine and beer tastings and a farm-to-table meal, as well as live music from Charles Bradley, Emancipator, Tycho, RJD2 and MC Yogi and the Wanderlust Spectacular, a “Cirque du Soleil of yoga” that brings together acroyoga, slacklining, Budokan yoga and hooping.
In addition to yoga teacher superstars like Seane Corn, Shiva Rea, and Eoin Finn, Wanderlust Whistler taps into local talent too, including Bellingham’s Melissa Longfellow and Summer Huntington. Both are popular teachers in town—Longfellow at 3 OMS Yoga Studio and Huntington at Fit Body Wellness—and have volunteered their talents at Sacred Bass Sessions and other community events.
Longfellow opened 3 OMS Yoga in 2009 with Amy Robinson, and currently teaches power yoga, trains future teachers and offers life-coaching counseling. She is also active in one of the more unusual, playful variations on this ancient tradition: yoga on standup paddleboards through Yoga on Liquid and SUP Yoga Bellingham.
“The awesome thing about practicing asanas on a paddleboard is the influence the water has on your poise and balance,” Longfellow explains. “The constantly moving medium challenges you to stay in your center even more than when you’re on the mat, and also strengthens core muscles as you make constant micro-adjustments.”
Longfellow will lead seven SUP yoga sessions in Whistler, as well as an afternoon practice accompanied by DJ HyFi.
“I’ve taught at Wanderlust festivals in Tahoe and Oahu before, but never here in my own backyard,” she says. “It’s hard to think of a more beautiful and inspiring setting for so many seekers to gather.”
At Wanderlust Whistler, Huntington will be teaching Clubbell Yoga, a contemporary blend of strength training and yoga using weighted clubs that is derived from ancient martial arts training. Clubbell Yoga incorporates three elements—“awaken, condition and practice”—and is designed to assist beginning yogis, athletes and strength trainers in learning transitions in yoga as well as developing core and shoulder strength.
“I’m really excited to bring this unique fusion that that unites body, mind and breath through thoughtful sequencing to one of the biggest yoga festivals in the world,” Huntington says, having already introduced audiences to the Clubbell practice in Seattle, New York, London, and Budapest.
Whether it’s chakra tuning and purification, meditation flash mobs, “yoga for dudes,” capoeira, rock climbing, Ayurvedic healing, hiking, Kundalini for the heart, Bhakti devotionals or dancing into the night, Wanderlust Whistler has everything yearning Cascadian yogis and yoginis might desire. Namaste!