Social Encore: Wanderlusting for yoga
BY JERMEL-LYNN QUILLOPO / Special to the Star-Advertiser
Numerous studies have shown Hawaii is considered to be one of the healthiest and happiest states in the nation. So it’s no surprise the annual Wanderlust Festival returned to Turtle Bay Resort last weekend and thousands showed up for the four-day event.
Wanderlust co-founders Jeff Krasno and Sean Hoess wanted to create a community that focused on mindful living that includes yoga, organic food, sustainable lifestyle practices, personal development, ethical consumption and appreciation of the arts. Fast forward six years, and their mission has grown into something that’s helped to enhance communities all over.
“We attribute the growth to demand and want people to start embracing this type of lifestyle by gathering like-minded people,” said Hoess.
Both co-founders said with our world increasingly heading into a digital age, festivals like Wanderlust help put actual faces to a community. They can all connect with each other and the earth in real life, away from their computer or smartphone screens.
“Our hope is that people discover a piece of wisdom or inspiration for their daily life or local community so that they can influence the people around them,” said Krasno.
According to the founders, Oahu’s enrollment for Wanderlust increased by 30 percent from 2013. On Saturday, 1,500 people were in attendance. The majority of Wanderlust participants are female between the ages of 25 and 44, with most having more than four years of college experience.
Hoess said Hawaii holds a special place in his heart because he got married here, but both co-founders believe engaging the community where the event is hosted is always a top priority. This year the festival offered hula lessons, surfing classes and even hiking options.
“Here at Turtle Bay, this place has a mix of both places. You have intense activities and relaxing ones,” said Hoess. “The location also is a more compact location, giving people a more community feel.”
“Everyone is going to find their own little spark and own little gem when they come here,” said Krasno.
Power Yoga Hawaii owners Dorian and Lehua Wright attended and taught at Wanderlust this year. Both think it is important to have community-based yoga on a bigger scale here in Hawaii. The duo created their own event, “emPOWER poses” that helps benefit mental health awareness.
“We want people to take a look at yoga as not just a physical practice but a mental practice,” said Lehua Wright.
EXPERIENCED YOGI Janice Giles attended her first Wanderlust this year and said the atmosphere will definitely bring her back for more.
“Everyone was really open and really nice,” she said. “It’s really good that they promote a healthy lifestyle and bring awareness about what you put in your body. Everyone was not trying to push anything on you but just to educate you.”
Giles has done yoga for 15 years, despite being diagnosed with scoliosis. Yoga helped her become more aware of her body and also helped correct her spine.
“My spine was so curved and yoga made it straight,” she said. “I also started to notice that my skin got better, I was less stressed, and everything all around me just started to lighten up. Yoga and my yoga community helped me focus on myself, helped me with my breathing … it helped me become more optimistic.”
The mother of two said even when her days are packed with things to do, she relies on yoga as time where she can solely focus on herself. She practices yoga for at least 15 minutes every day and tries to take two full-length classes every week.
“My husband is the one (who) told me to go to Wanderlust and to have a good time,” she said. “At this year’s Wanderlust, it taught me that you should have no expectations in life so that you can just enjoy the moment. I let go and I had the best time and it was just a positive experience.”
There were several well-known instructors at the festival this year, such as Ana Forrest, known for her pioneering efforts in yoga and emotional healing; Gerry Lopez, a well known local surfer and yoga teacher now based out of Oregon; and Seane Corn, an internationally celebrated yoga teacher known for her impassioned activism and inspirational style of teaching.
Both Hoess and Krasno said we can expect more good things in the years to come.
To see more of what happened at this year’s festival, check out the video below.
Jermel-Lynn Quillopo is a multi-faceted, energetic individual with experience in both print and broadcast journalism. “Social Encore” aims to tell diverse stories about Hawaii’s food, events and people; share your tips with Jermel via email or follow her on Twitter.