- Wanderlust Festival, featuring yoga classes and talks by Seane Corn and Baron Baptiste, as well as live performances by Michael Franti & Spearhead, and Thievery Corporation, in Whistler, Aug. 23-26. Tickets and info: whistler.wanderlustfestival.com.
YOGA instructor Nico Luce knows when he takes the stage with his peers Friday night in Whistler's Olympic Plaza, as part of the inaugural Whistler Wanderlust Festival, it will be a moment to remember.
A free community event entitled One Body United: Take a Stand, the 7 p.m. session will offer a glimpse into the mission of Wanderlust, seeing yoga and music combined in an effort to provide a transformational experience like no other. Community members are encouraged to attend, their yoga mat in tow, for the demonstration of musical asana hosted by yoga guru Seane Corn (co-founder of non-profit Off The Mat, Into The World), and paired with a musical performance by Michael Franti.
Luce, 38, a North Vancouver resident and Northshore Elements YYoga instructor, will be among the featured Wanderlust teachers invited to practise yoga on stage during the event.
"It's really powerful when you start putting together great teachings and messages with music and people dancing, it becomes a party," he says. "Someone looking in from the outside might say, 'But is that really yoga?' Well, if yoga means union, yes it is."
Wanderlust is an existing annual yoga and music festival in the United States, with festivals held so far this summer in Vermont, Colorado and California. The Whistler event, being held Aug. 23-26, marks the first international edition.
Luce has attended the last two Squaw Valley, Calif., festivals and is excited about the opportunity to now be serving as an instructor.
"Wanderlust is the best yoga and music festival that there is," he says, adding the teacher lineup is always "incredible."
While there are other yoga conferences and events out there, Wanderlust stands out, says Luce. "It's just how Wanderlust puts it together with music but also community and bringing it all together into a big party, so I'm very excited about it," he says.
In addition to his involvement in the Friday night event, Luce is set to lead four sessions, one on each day of the festival.
"What I bring to my classes is I combine yoga philosophy with the physical practise of yoga, with the asana," he says.
One class he's leading is Leap of Faith, set for 8 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 26. "I tell the story of Hanuman, who is this monkey god, and we do a pose that is called Hanumanasana, which is the splits," he says.
Luce plans to provide information on the pose's background as well as focus on the physicality of it, linking the two. The 90-minute session will feature live music by Shamans Dream, Craigh Kohland and Rara Avis.
A second session Luce is leading, The Power of Choice, set for Saturday, Aug. 25 at 8 a.m., will tackle the concept of owning life and your decisions. "We can always choose, and there are basically only three things that we can choose, either we accept what's going on, we change it or we walk away," he says. "So through the physical practise we're going to be embodying the principles."
Other classes Luce is leading include a vinyasa practise with guitar accompaniment by composer Stephen Fields, Thursday, Aug. 23 at 8 a.m., entitled Master of Movement, Disciple of Stillness. He's also leading Hands Down, You Can Handle It!, another vinyasa practise with a focus on arm balances and inversions, on Friday, Aug. 24 at 10 a.m.
"When I theme the classes and when I choose what sequences or which peak pose, I want to link it to something that has a meaning, so someone can leave the class and not just feel good about what they can do physically, but perhaps with a different approach or a deeper understanding about how to use the tools of yoga in their daily life," he says.
Wanderlust provides an opportunity for participants to be exposed to different teachers and yoga styles, taking them out of their comfort zone, says Luce. It also plays a role in elevating the entire yoga community as many local teachers will also be stepping on the mat as students, as he did for the last two years, and then share what they learn back at their base studios. "The teachers are teaching differently after that. They're inspired," he says.
Wanderlust sessions, due to their atypical size, also provide a memorable experience.
"The energy that builds, just seeing an entire room, 200 to 300 bodies moving together, chanting together, going into silence together, is powerful. It changes you," says Luce.
Examples of others featured at next weekend's festival, both local and international, include: yoga teachers Baron Baptiste, Janet Stone, Sianna Sherman and Eoin Finn; performing artists the Rebirth Brass Band and MC Yogi; and speakers Marianne Williamson and Vikram Gandhi. For more information, visit whistler.wanderlustfestival. com.