Creating community around mindful living. Traveling the world meeting a cultural demand that’s already there, and just fulfilling it.That’s the job description for John Krasno and Seane Hoess, founders of Wanderlust.
They’ve been doing this for a while, but they’ve found new elements to incorporate in the Oahu Wanderlust–especially surfing. Seeing the correlation between surfing and yoga, with the peaceful, meditative, elements intertwining with healthy physical activity, Seane and John sat down with a crew of reporters at the Wanderlust Festival on the North Shore of Oahu to talk shop.
What’s different between Wanderlust and other yoga festivals, someone asked. The truth is that the yoga industry is huge and growing. But Wanderlust really tries to tie in a spiritual connection to the outside world, not just the studio setting that normally may serve as the testing ground for yogic adventures, according to Seane. “We’re trying to get people outside to experience nature,” he said.
They run 4 festivals in the summertime at ski resorts so people can get out and hike, cycle, etc. John said that the mindfulness present in surfing is such a great overlap with the yoga culture. The integration of Hawaiian culture was also important, so for this event, they’ve created multiple “talk story” sessions so people can learn about the culture of Hawaii. In addition, they’ve set up Hawaiian cultural walks.
The event was not as big as some of the other Wanderlusts in the world. It was 1/3 the size, in terms of yoga attendees, as the Wanderlust in California. Part of it was the remote nature. Hawaii is 2500 miles away from the nearest city (San Francisco), and hosting the event at the north shore resort of Turtle Bay adds an extra layer of logistical challenges. But by the time people have arrived, they’re really present, said John.
Being green is a natural part of hosting a yoga festival, so Hoess and Krasno spoke to the challenges they had to overcome. Turtle Bay is not known as an eco-friendly resort. Its restaurant and food service options tend to tailor to country club appetites for prime rib and filet mignon, so most food served on site is neither healthy nor local. Most yogis coming to the festival, of course, would be looking for tofu, salads, sprouting things, fresh fruits and veggies, smoothies, and juices.
To adapt, Turtle Bay’s restaurant shifted its menu, and for a limited time during the weekend, served a yogi-inspired cuisine focused on whole, local foods. For just $16, you, too, could have a garden burger at the resort’s high end restaurant. Thankfully, Hoess and Krasno thought to recruit some local vendors of better cuisine. The Beet Box Cafe, a local vegetarian health food cafe in Haleiwa, had a line 40 people long during most of the festival. LYFE Kitchens was also there, selling microwaved portions of its healthier than Lean Cuisine packaged foods. Jessica Quinn, local Nutritional Therapist, also had a booth and provided nutritional counseling.
Waste was also a challenge. Turtle Bay Resort offers very limited recycling throughout its sprawling complex and sends all organic waste to landfill. Knowing that Wanderlust attendees would likely find that objectionable if not repugnant, Hoess and Krasno reached out to the local community to find a solution. Sustainable Coastlines, a local non-profit, came through. The organization set up recycling and compost bins throughout the festival’s grounds, and the members of Sustainable Coastlines volunteered their time to sort through the waste stream, and get recyclables to where they needed to go, and food waste to a composting facility.
The festival combined music and yoga in a way I’d never seen. Michael Franti and Shiva Rae did a duo performance on stage, and had a concert-like atmosphere with hundreds of yogis stretching and dancing…I saw tears of joy, and my long-running man crush on Michael Franti grew in proportion to his rousing performance. At one point, he had the entire crowd break down into circles of five, then 12, then one gigantic circle running the entire outer ring. Then he said, “now go hug someone across the way,” and hundreds of yogis giggled, ran, and hugged complete strangers like they were long lost childhood friends.
To me, the festival was kind of like that–random, beautiful, and warm.
Photo from Seen Imagery’s Wanderlust Gallery