I have to admit, I was a bit nervous going to my first yoga festival. I attend yoga classes maybe six times a year. It’s something I keep thinking I should do more often and then never get around to.
Ironically, my first yoga class at the Wanderlust Festival at Stratton Mountain in Vermont was with Back Bay Yoga. I had just travelled 3 ½ hours to work with a woman who teaches five minutes from my house.
I was intimidated, I was worried about how sore I’d be, and I was also really excited. I was going to be doing yoga every day and, even better, my husband was tagging along and taking his first yoga class ever!
Once we arrived, there was a wide array of body types, from super-fit yoginis to pleasantly plump grandparents, all decked out in combinations of cotton and spandex. I thought I might feel a little out of place as a Pilates instructor, but I actually plopped right into the atmosphere and relaxed immediately.
The truth is going to a yoga festival is incredibly indulgent. It’s also an opportunity to really take care of yourself. I chose exactly the classes I wanted, I worked with some of the best instructors in the world, and I relaxed and spent time with my husband. It was great! I felt all bendy and utterly at peace. I love a good “Om” in class and I got to have one every day. Ooooooommmmmmm.
Here are some tips if you plan on going to a weekend retreat or festival near you:
- Go with someone you know. It can be someone from your yoga studio or a friend or loved one, but it definitely helps to have someone to compare notes with at the end of the day. That said, if you do go solo, it’s an incredibly friendly crowd and you’ll find people to spend time with right away (if you want to).
- Pick your classes wisely. There will be a combination of lectures, yoga, and other fitness options offered, so pace yourself to avoid being too sore. You don’t want to have to forfeit taking a class later during your stay.
- Enjoy the evening activities. Wanderlust has live music every night; this year included headliners folksy Ani DiFranco to the reggae prince Ziggy Marley. These aren’t normally acts I would go see, but I went and had a great time. Plus dancing with newly-loosened yoga hips was really fun.
- Remember, it’s about your practice, not your wardrobe. I giggled when I looked at the row of bendy folks in front of me during one class. Every single butt had a lululemon logo on it! Yes, going to a retreat is a great excuse to pick up a new outfit, but remember, it’s about what’s happening inside your body, not what’s on the outside.
On the last day of the festival, people were really shining. I saw so many smiles, so many people ambling and enjoying the day. It’s easy to see how restorative a yoga retreat can be. So if you’re hesitating, don’t. You’ll be so glad you went.
Have you ever gone to a yoga festival or retreat? What did you get from the experience? What did you enjoy the most? Any tips for fellow first-timers? I’d love to hear ‘em.
(I want to thank the folks at Timberland who provided my husband and I with a complimentary trip to the Wanderlust Festival. They were first-class hosts and we thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity.)