A Yogi’s Party
Just a few years ago, working in the marketing communications world, I was promoting block parties on behalf of one of my clients. I attended three, in different cities. Two were on the premises of non-profits, which I really enjoyed, as most of the people knew one another, and had shared interests. The third was on the South Side of Chicago where the neighbors had lined up tables with food on their lawns. Aside from the little kids, they seemed to be sitting in their own front yards, rather than milling about.
Now there’s a new kind of block party, created for yogis. In 2013, Wanderlust came to Austin’s Fourth Street. Wanderlust festivals began in 2009, but after the owners opened a permanent yoga studio in downtown Austin, they brought the fanfare to Texas for four days of yoga-centered fun and learning opportunities.
A Different Kind of Yoga Event
“It’s really a different model for us,” explains Jeff Krasno, co-founder of Wanderlust. “We have these 4-day destination resort events and we have one-day urban park events. Austin in its own weird way is its own model. We close down a city block and it’s a yoga block party.”
The intended design of Wanderlust is to create community. In Sanskrit, sangha has a very important meaning. Beyond “community” it infers a healthy structure for us to grow and thrive. Austin’s Wanderlust attempts to do this following the block party concept from The Brady Bunch era.
“We’ll probably keep Austin weird,” adds Krasno. “We try a bunch of fun things. We had a tie-dye party. That was in character (with Austin), and we wouldn’t do it anywhere else.”
Rachel flew in to the state capital from Chicago. In one day, she took a Thai massage workshop, acro-yoga, and a Hoop Groove class. Not your typical yoga studio offerings.
“A bunch of people from New York came down because Austin has its own mystique. People at this event want to go out and discover Austin.”
Music: The Heartbeat of Austin
Of course, music is also at the heart of the experience in Austin.
“We program a little differently in Austin,” says Krasno, himself a musician and record producer. Local bands perform at night in the street party atmosphere, and the organizers give attendees enough legroom or free time to be able to explore the great Austin outdoors, veggie spots, and music scene.
Meredith is a yoga teacher from San Francisco at Wanderlust Austin. “I’ve been to a bunch of Wanderlusts,” she says. “Most are in the mountains, and I’d never been to Austin,” she says about why headed to Austin. She was also attracted to the city that’s known for food and music. Meredith took a long walk across the river and chanced upon one of the city’s favorite vegetarian centers, Casa de Luz, where she had “delicious butternut squash soup,” among other things.
Food seems central to most festivals, and the Wanderlust Yoga Studio has its own cafe that specializes in smoothies and acaí bowls. To add more Austin flavor to the festival, a food truck was at the corner of Fourth and Brazos offering plenty of options to the attendees. Just like the diverse offerings found at Austin’s many food trailer parks, this one offered an outstanding variety of plates and drinks at reasonable prices. At Wanderlust, Cazamance served up peanut butter hummus on a bed of spinach for just five dollars and coconut curry or a peanut butter stir fry with couscous for a few more.
“It’d be really awesome and super fitting if we had more food trucks and launch a food component of the event with picnic tables for people to eat and commune — a new and extra dimension to the event,” Krasno says about the future of Wanderlust Austin.
Outdoor Yoga and More
Wanderlust is known for its heavy connection to nature. In Austin, while the yoga classes are indoors, every day there are options for Stand Up Paddleboard, yoga runs, or cycling classes. “We do our best within the context of Austin,” says Krasno who designed Wanderlust, in part, because his better half, actress Schuyler Grant, is a yoga teacher.
“My wife opened a yoga studio upstairs from my office. I was just starting to gel with that community and the values intrinsically baked into the yoga community –political or social. I got into my own little weird yoga practice that I do every day.”
Krasno took his learnings as a successful music producer to create what he sees as best in class yoga festival.
“We put a tremendous amount of care and time into curating the program, and we produce a top-notch experience. We have superlative yoga teachers. Events serve as big community gathering points that maybe happen once or twice a year for someone. It’s hyper-reality. Learning and soaking in, in large masses of people that are like-minded.”
Wanderlust will continue to have one-day events in ten cities, in addition to their signature festivals. Check out schedules at http://wanderlust.com/yoga-festivals/