Finding your true north is not one size fits all. For Lysha Kamisato Wernig, a Maui girl who teaches yoga at the studio in the Westin Maui and taught six classes at Wanderlust this year, her experience meant embracing the unfamiliar and wrapping her mind around teaching classes on a stage in front of hundreds of students.
“I taught two classes everyday, Friday, Saturday Sunday,” she says (she’s also a Lululemon Ambassador on Maui). “It was amazing, every class was so different. I’m so used to teaching my style and going with the flow. I decided to do three Hawaiian based classes: Finding Your Aloha on Your Mat, The Grace of Hula Meets Yoga, and Finding Our Mana Through Yoga. I was mentally preparing myself. I wanted to focus on getting my wording, to express the feeling I wanted to convey for the festival-goers in the classes. I was so scared to do something different out of my comfort zone and then I did it. It was sensational, like a breath of fresh air. It felt good to teach with live music, and all the people were just so stoked afterwards. It was really good to push myself.”
One of my struggles was navigating the workshops, classes and activities. There were hundreds of meditation, yoga, and fitness workshops and classes scheduled for the weekend. One day I did five yoga classes. The poi ball class with Jinju Dasalla was a highlight–I never thought for a minute that I could swing poi balls with verve, and also got an amazing workout. But I wanted to try every teacher and practice I hadn’t been exposed to, as well as try a class with Wernig, a teacher I’ve practiced with before. Ultimately, I made it to one of her classes on the final day, sharing her Kitaido yoga class with around a 100 other attendees, and I’m glad I did.
“The most people I’ve ever taught was like 50 people,” says Kamisato Wernig. “This was major. The last three classes were more my style, a Kitaido practice. That was fun, too. It was coming back from being so spiritual (my first three Hawaiian classes) and then getting into the technical aspects of yoga. So it was a great mix that balanced out. It was really good. Looking out and seeing everyone there, feeling that moment that you want to stop and take a deep breath and take in one of my dreams coming true. Knowing that I can do it, and getting back to the roots of that I can only teach what i know. Letting go of the fear, and anything that can hold me back. Knowing that that is enough.”
For Maui businesswoman Annie Lai, finding her true north was being exposed to fitness, friendship, travel and yoga as a new experience wrapped around her passion for fashion.
“As a single mom and business owner of Da Beach House Maui, I rarely take the time to travel by myself for pleasure,” says Lai. “It was the best gift for me because I was surrounded by people who not only love living healthy, active, and fun lifestyles, but also love expressing their fashion through yoga inspired attire!”
Lai was exposed to Wanderlust through Lululemon.
“Lululemon sent us to Wanderlust with a special yoga mat with ‘Aloha’ lasered into mat as well as a special edition Hawaiian Island chain tank top,” says Lai. “Coincidentally, my second yoga class was Finding Your Aloha on Your Mat. This took place outside in front of the stage with hundreds of other yogis! I loved this class because there was a live DJ jamming in the background. However, it was so sunny and hot that I felt like I was in hot yoga! I was dripping in sweat! After three hours of yoga, we retreated to the Aveda beauty bar for complimentary Wanderlust festival hair styles. They donated any tips to Surfrider foundation, and I’m an avid surfer so I appreciated that.”
Lululemon also invited Power House Gym instructor Jen Lauer. Lauer didn’t teach at the festival, but will be taking home experiences to share with her students here on Maui. She says her favorite class was the Aiyoga Aerial Yoga, but it was the Hawaiian touch at the festival that hit her compass.
“I teach a Restful Yoga, Cycle Core, Barre, and Body Sculpt 101 at Power House Gym Kihei,” says Lauer. I teach Beach Yoga and Sunset Yoga at The Grand Wailea as well as Basic Barre & Core Conditioning. I teach an outside Pilates Mat at Andaz and I Personal Train at all of these places as well. I will be taking the Aloha Spirit back to Maui with me! I really enjoyed the yoga practice led by Lysha and her inspiring motivation towards sharing the affection, love, peace, and compassion off the mat and in practice. It’s not just about receiving Aloha but also about sharing it out in the community. Working at both The Andaz and Grand Wailea the Aloha spirit is top priority as we instruct out visitors to the island.”
Amanda Furgiuele, Maui fitness instructor and owner at Body In Balance studio in Lahaina was able to attend Wanderlust as a participant. She says she attended up to 5 workshops and classes daily plus meditations, soaking it all in for her students back on Maui.
“The best thing about participating in a festival like this is the exposure to so many different kinds of people, classes, and styles of teaching,” says Furgiuele. “I am so excited to come back to my own classes and teach my students different sequences or even showcase some of the unique playlists I discovered while at Wanderlust. It’s really important for instructors to take classes. We often get so tied up in teaching, that we forget to better our own practices. That’s why I took so many classes–trying to experience as many new aspects of yoga that I could in a short time.”
For Furgiuele a break in her teaching routine was just what she needed from Wanderlust, as well as a few hard earned lessons in slowing her roll.
“Mostly I tried to take classes that I don’t teach very often, or classes that I find challenging,” she says. “I’ve always had a hard time slowing down, so for every Vinyasa Flow class I took (that’s the style I enjoy teaching the most), I took a more gentle, yin style class or a meditation to counter-balance my day. Otherwise I probably would have died! 8 hours of Vinyasa could kill me! I also tried to observe some of the other classes that I teach, such as the Aerial Yoga and SUP Yoga. I have the great fortune to teach both of those styles here on Maui and I didn’t want to take a spot form someone who had never experienced them before, so I observed to get some new ideas. I also took some more dance-oriented classes and even slackline just to shake things up a bit. Teachers get bored with their workouts, too, so it was nice to get out of my daily teaching routine!”
The Wanderlust Festival has just one winter festival and that’s Wanderlust Oahu. The rest take place in the summer across the U.S. and Canada.
“Each Wanderlust has certain elements that are similar–the yoga, meditation, outdoor activities, the community spirit and live music,” says Hoess. “But we’re also called ‘Wanderlust’ for a reason, and we try to incorporate local flavors and cultures wherever we go. This is expressed in our activities (surfing in Oahu, mountain biking in Whistler), our food (local foods wherever possible!), our faculty (we always invite local leaders in yoga and meditation to teach) and our artists (we often book local musicians).”
Wanderlust plans to be back in Oahu at Turtle Bay Resort in 2017. For more information on their other festivals or their Mindful Triathalons series, go to Wanderlust.com.