Posted on August 29, 2012 by Beth Yost
Last week was rough for me. I was feeling emotionally drained, overwhelmed by the burdens of day-to-day obligations, especially nervous about my unorthodox career path, and I lost someone dear to me. In short, I was a little grumpy and a lot sad.
Months prior I bought a ticket with a couple friends to attend The Wanderlust Festival in Whistler B.C.: a music and yoga festival – something I would typically be incredibly excited about. And I was, but I just couldn’t shake the clouds looming in my thoughts. Nevertheless, I knew I needed this trip.
Yoga master Pantanjali said, “Yoga is the practice of quieting the mind.” And that’s what this post is about.
Imagine resting in shavasana after taking a class by renowned yoga instructor Sianna Sherman at the base of Whistler Mountain while Todd Boston strums his guitar. That’s the Wanderlust Festival — and just one class. (If you don’t know who any of those people are, don’t worry — neither did I. It doesn’t really matter. They get really good people on the docket.)
Whistler is a nice road trip from Seattle — about a 4.5 hour drive — so my friend and I packed up my 4-Runner with the basics: tent, sleeping bags, and yoga mats. Of course, you don’t have to camp, but we like to, and it keeps things cheap. We stopped briefly in Vancouver to pick up another friend and then we were Whistler bound. With the windows down, a good playlist, and an incredible drive along the beautiful fjords of BC-99 N, trivial concerns were already shrinking with the landscape in the rearview mirror.
The Wanderlust Festival can be as busy or as relaxing as you want it to be, and there are hundreds of classes that accommodate all levels. They are taught both inside and outside by renowned instructors. Some are even accompanied by prolific musicians. For a different kind of inspiration, classes called speakeasies are offered, featuring well-known authors and motivational speakers. There were a number of speakers I would have loved to hear, but I was too obsessed with practicing inversions while I had so many talented instructors at my disposal. Maybe next year.
All classes were held in Whistler Village, so there’s lots going on during downtime: shops, restaurants, gondola rides, incredible scenery all around, ICE CREAM, and, for the single ladies, cute boys on mountain bikes. We actually changed dinner reservations three times one night before ultimately blowing it off, because we just couldn’t seem to squeeze in a long dinner without missing great music. (Yeah, I know, we’re jerks. Sorry, Kaze. And sushi sounded so good!)
We bought a one-day all-inclusive Pioneer Pass for $160, which included three classes on Saturday, access to all music, and admission to the headlining show, the Thievery Corporation DJ set. We set up camp at the Riverside Resort tent sites for about $35 a night. It’s not ideal if you’re looking for something secluded — we were right on top of our neighbors with few trees for privacy. But the location was convenient, the bathrooms were nice, and we really didn’t spend much time there anyway.
After making it through three yoga classes on Saturday, we woke up with some aches and pains Sunday morning. So we decided to take advantage of the Scandinave Spa that was a five-minute walk from our campsite. It ran us an additional $60 to spend Sunday enjoying their pools, sauna, and steam room and was well worth it.
Little weekend getaways like this aren’t so much a vacation (though the spa sure felt like one) as an opportunity to recalibrate and rejuvenate. Afterward, I felt mentally and physically healthy (even with a late-night snack of Canada’s most indulgent dish, poutine, which is french fries smothered in gravy. Highly recommended.). It was nice to step out of my tiresome routine of being my own worst critic: I spend embarrassing amounts of time worrying and over-analyzing every minute detail of my life, until my mind screeches to a halt in protest. So it was a sigh of relief to get out of town — and out of my own head for a while.
And yoga offers the perfect relief by allowing me to take my daily challenges and transform that energy into something physical. Sometimes I find myself in a new pose, a pose I couldn’t do the day before. Other times I try, but it hurts too badly, or I can’t balance, or I’m not strong enough–and I can’t do it. That’s ok, too. I just let myself fall and accept it. I practice, I progress, sometimes very slowly, but in yoga, as in life, that’s just the way it is sometimes: You fall, you get back up, and you keep moving.
In that way, we’re all capable of surprising ourselves once in a while. I have a poem by Christopher Logue on my desk that reminds me of this everyday:
“Come to the edge.” “We can’t. We’re afraid.”
“Come to the edge.” “We can’t. We will fall!”
“Come to the edge.” And they came.
And he pushed them.
And they flew.
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