If downward dog, “activating the heart chakra” and Surya Namaskar are common phrases in your lexicon, you’re not alone.
According to a recent study by the Yoga Journal, 20.4 million Americans practice some form of yoga, a surge of interest that has given rise to a $27 billion industry, including an 87% increase in spending on classes, clothing, videos and retreats over the past several years.
Here in the Fourth Corner, the yoga scene is likewise thriving, with more than a dozen studios scattered throughout Bellingham and the county, as well as classes being offered at gyms, schools, parks and clinics. Teacher training workshops, sound healing and kirtan concerts and a new standup paddleboard yoga business all demonstrate a local hunger for yoga-inspired movement, spirituality and community.
Just in time for peak summer, one of the most expansive yoga festivals in North America is coming to our backyard.
Wanderlust Whistler is a “5-day celebration of mindful living” at the scenic home of the 2010 Winter Olympics. It features dozens of diverse yoga classes, workshops and lectures, outdoor recreation activities, organic wine and beer tastings and a farm-to-table meal. Nighttime entertainment includes performances by Nahko and Medicine for the People, Michael Franti, the High and Mighty Brass Band, Karsh Kale and MC Yogi and the Wanderlust Spectacular, a “Cirque du Soleil of yoga” that brings together acroyoga, slacklining, dancing, music and hooping.
In addition to yoga teacher superstars like Seane Corn, Shiva Rea, Ryan Leier and Ana Forest, Wanderlust often taps into local talent too, including Bellingham’s Melissa Longfellow and Summer Huntington. Both are popular teachers in Whatcom County – Longfellow at SUP Yoga Bellingham and Huntington at Fit Body Wellness.
Longfellow opened 3 OMS Yoga in 2009 with Amy Robinson, and is now pursuing one of the more unusual, playful variations on this ancient tradition: yoga on standup paddleboards through SUP Yoga Bellingham.
“The awesome thing about practicing asanas on a paddleboard is the influence the water has on your poise and balance,” Longfellow explains. “The constantly moving medium challenges you to stay in your center even more than when you’re on the mat, and also strengthens core muscles as you make constant micro-adjustments.”
“I’ve taught at Wanderlust festivals in Tahoe, Oahu and Whistler before,” she says. “It’s hard to think of a more beautiful and inspiring setting for so many seekers to gather.”
At last year’s Wanderlust Whistler, Huntington taught Clubbell Yoga, a contemporary blend of strength training and yoga using weighted clubs that is derived from ancient martial arts training. Clubbell Yoga incorporates three elements—“awaken, condition and practice”—and is designed to assist beginning yogis, athletes and strength trainers in learning transitions in yoga as well as developing core and shoulder strength.
“I’m really excited about this unique fusion that that unites body, mind and breath through thoughtful sequencing,” Huntington says, having already introduced audiences to the Clubbell practice in Seattle, New York, London and Budapest.
Whether it’s chakra tuning, meditation hikes, “yoga for dudes,” capoeira, rock climbing, Ayurvedic healing, hula-hooping, Bhakti devotionals or dancing into the night, Wanderlust Whistler has everything yearning Cascadian yogis might desire. Namaste!