Yoga, music festival triples attendance |

Yoga, music festival triples attendance

Tim Parsons

OLYMPIC VALLEY – Primal love.

Yogi Shiva Rea explained the spirituality of it to a group of about 100 festival-goers Sunday as they sat on their mats under a canopy at Wanderlust, a festival of yoga and music.

“You don’t know when it will happen,” she said. “See what happens inside.”

Dave Stringer led an eight-piece band playing Kirtan, a call-and-response style of music from 15th century India. An innate accompaniment to yoga with its ancient Hindu Sanskrit chants, Kirtan has resurging popularity as it is introduced to Western instrumentation.

Rea looked beyond the crowd, waved and said, “I just saw a saint.”

Radhanath Swami humbly accepted Rea’s invitation to approach the stage. The holy man’s saffron attire shone in the afternoon sun. As Rea instructed, all went into prostration. The band’s rhythm pulsated across Squaw Valley. The swami took the mike and chanted a blessing. It was a Wanderlust jam session.

“I really like penetrating the ecstatic barrier,” Rea said later.

With about 13,000 over four days, the second Wanderlust Music and Yoga Festival’s attendance more than tripled that of the inaugural event. All of the yoga classes and lectures Thursday, Friday and Saturday sold out.

“In a way, it probably grew a little bit beyond our expectations, and from an operational standpoint we did the best we could to catch up with the growth,” said event organizer Jeff Krasno. “For me, the most important part of it is to have people come and have a great experience and go home and tell their friends.”

Mission accomplished.

“It exceeded my expectations,” said Charles Beckert of Bend, Ore., who was accompanied by his wife and child. “Even more than the yoga, I especially liked the spirit the community is trying to spread. This is what really inspired me.”

Monica Varah of Ventura, Calif., agreed: “I’m coming back next year. There are lots of like-minded people. Everybody with a spiritual goal in mind. And you can set down your purse and not worry about it betting swiped.”

Krasno said it was too early to know if Wanderlust might expand to more locations, but a return to Squaw Valley is certain.

“There are some parts of the event that we don’t need to grow but I think there’s some experiential elements that we can continue to develop,” he said. “More hikes, a wine village, the kids’ program.”

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