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Meanderlike

Friends! Fellow travellers on this cosmic dust-strewn course to eternity! I have RETURNED. From WANDERLUST, Thredbo. Behold my meandering musings and the two photos I remembered to take!

For those just joining us, Wanderlust is an international string of yoga festivals. Yep, yoga festivals. Oh sure, there’s dancing and music, and food, and slacklining and hula hooping and hiking and horseriding, but it’s fundamentally about the yoga. There’s workshops that cover everything from making medicine wheels (wut) to galvanising your social media presence for something something something. There’s also meditation sessions, some with music, and some without.

I spent some time there thinking and drawing conclusions: one is that we are soon to be overwhelmed with a devastating epidemic of thrush, because nobody’s giving up the gorgeous yet non-breathing nylon waist-to-ankle patterned tights anytime soon. Another is that when I’m on my own and out of my comfort zone, I invoke my 48-year-old spirit guide, Grumpsky. Grumpsky, however, only lasted until I got to my first conditioning for slackliners session, quickly followed by wine, so I was back to my cheerful and loving self very quickly. (Side note; I hate doing yoga in nylon. I spent the whole stunning weekend in my baggiest cotton knee-length pantaloons and you can be damn sure I looked killer.)

It’s a good crowd: fairly predictably, it’s mostly 20- and 30-somethings, with an above-average representation of tattoos and non-standard piercings. There was your mandatory rainbow-painted fire-breather and hordes of beautiful hippies with AMAZING abs. (I have barely stopped talking about the abs I saw.) The whole thing had a bit of a #blessed feel to it, and it was great. Everyone was friendly, smiley, kind and earnest. Also there was at least one person doing her yoga in a Spiderman onesie and I’m proud to part of that kind of community.

Highlights included slacklining and stand-up paddleboard yoga. Both are way easier than you think they are: slackline yoga involves, well, doing yoga while balanced on a slackline! It’s easier to balance on a slackline than you’d think, and although I never quite mastered standing up, I did master an extended spinal extention (one knee and opposite hand on the line, remaining hand and foot extended), sitting, and an inversion (yup). So that’s not bad for my first go. Stand up paddleboard yoga was THE BEST. I did two sessions and both made me feel amazing. A big part of it was that the paddleboard area (i.e. the water) was a long way from the rest of the festival, so it was quieter and calmer; and being on the water is so soothing and cool. It was wonderful. Add to that a whole hour of “whoa I don’t think I can do this WAIT HOLY COW I’M DOING IT” and you’ve got a recipe for happiness. Kat Harding, the instructor who ran both of the SUP yoga classes I took, is doing a SUP yoga retreat later this year, and even though it’s all the way over in Croatia I have given it some serious thought.

A final highlight — my last session for the weekend — was a guided meditation accompanied by a handpan musician, Abria Joseph. This was so beautiful and blissful. At the end I gave him a hug and thanked him profusely. I started to cry a bit and then hurried away to eat something before I went into full hypoglycaemic blubdown. During my deep meditation with the handpan playing, I felt I was drifting on the surface of a calm river, with jungle trees shading me. I felt so peaceful. Then I had a vision of the perfect sandwich. (I swear this is true.) A sub with avocado, sliced black olives, purple onion, shredded iceberg lettuce, shredded carrot, grated cheddar and mayonnaise. I made it when I got home. It was pretty good. (Needed salt.)

A wombat statue at Thredbo.

A sturdy garden ornament and companion.

Low points included not being able to get my zen on because of a gripping dread that emerged when, sitting in the full sun for an afternoon session, I realised I’ve never put sunscreen on my lips and will probably die of lip melanomas (closed casket funeral, obvs.); having a coffee smoothie bowl; and the food situation.

A smoothie bowl is basically an extra thick smoothie served in a bowl, topped with toasted muesli and some fruit. Lovely! I needed coffee, so I had the one that had coffee, banana and almond milk, topped with cacao nibs and muesli. The astute among you will be wondering if I forgot to mention where the sweetness was to come from, and I didn’t. It was a remarkably savoury experience. And bitter! And not pleasant. I tried to eat as quickly as I could, but I just got an ice cream headache from my definitely-not-ice-cream-but-at-least-caffeinated snack.

Now, the food situation. This is the one thing I fear the Wanderlust/Thredbo bods are going to have to address. Being this: if you have a whole festival dedicated to hard physical activity (and make no mistake: the teachers weren’t bringing anything short of their most Instagram-worthy game to this party), you really gotta think about how voracious everyone is. I beetled along to a schmoozing wine event, which promised canapes, and my God you should have seen what happened when someone brought out the second plate of cheese (the first disappeared well before I got there, and I was only fifteen minutes late). There was neither knife nor crackers but that cheese was DOOMED. Meanwhile, the Thredbo cafes and restaurants hadn’t really stepped up — it was the summer season, after all — and if you’re at all vegetarianally inclined, you were close to being out of luck. If you were vegetarian and had any peculiar food requirements (yo), you were out of luck. I had a delicious brunch one morning, and the aforementioned confusing smoothie bowl, but generally I had to self-cater. Which would have been fine, except I assumed I wouldn’t have to, so my self-catering was mostly Cheds and Milo.

Bananas!

Not these though. These are souvenirs.

I think the biggest issue for me was not being able to do absolutely everything. There was not a session that didn’t have at least one thing I wanted to do. Luckily for my joints, the ticket gets you access to a limit of three sessions in a day, plus a lecture and all-you-can-eat music. Extras, like SUP yoga, horserides and the fancy dinner, cost extra.

Things I will try next time (if they’re available): blindfolded yoga at the top of the chairlift; more meditation classes; guided hikes; and bobsledding (not part of Wanderlust, but part of Thredbo and I’ve never done it). I might even try a hula hooping class. You’ll notice I said “will try next time”. Yup. Got my ticket to the 2017 Wanderlust Thredbo. Namaste, y’all!

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