It’s 7:30am, 25 degrees and the Wanderlust team are surprisingly chirpy considering they’ve already been awake for three hours. “Do you guys want coffee?” “How did you sleep?” “Are you ready for the triathlon?” But, considering the nature of Wanderlust 108, it’s no surprise that the team behind it are thoughtful and full of energy; that’s what this festival is all about. Urban Sports Club and Wanderlust have formed a dream team for summer 2K19 and today is the first event of five across Germany.
For the Wanderlust 108 Munich edition we’re in the mind-blowingly beautiful Olympic Park. The morning sun beats down on the USC tent which overlooks rolling green hills, reflected crystal clear in the water of a lake below. There’s a sense of wellness and peace as Munich’s Wanderlusters wander onsite, ready to begin their energising day of mindful health and wellness.
The Wanderlust story
Wanderlust’s mission is to help you find your ‘true north.’ Julia Meschede, project manager for Wanderlust in the DACH region explains “it’s about finding your authentic way. We want you to ask questions, encourage yourself to try a new path. Find your true north, your true purpose, your authentic way of living – whatever that may be.”
Wanderlust was founded in 2009 by three friends who wanted “to create an event that is fun but also based on underlying ideals, where attendees are actually participants, and where people left feeling better than when they came. We dreamed of an event that could be at least a good time and – at best – personally transformative.” Wanderlust brings ground-breaking, innovative yoga instructors, meditation experts, wellness advisors and inspirational speakers from around the world together to share their wisdom with a global and ever-growing community.
The festival site
Wanderlusters meander round the site, yoga mats swung over their shoulders, checking out the tents, stands and event spaces. They queue up at True North Cafe for their morning dose of caffeine, sitting at white, floral tables or perching on low cushions. The cafe faces the huge main stage where many of the days events will be hosted.
The site hosts a myriad of tents from both well-known brands and fledgling start-ups. Vegan and vegetarian friendly food-trucks are parked next to an aerial yoga circle and stand-up paddle station. A sign outside lululemon’s flower-filled tent reads “Forget all of the things you need to do – be here now.” White-uniformed Rituals staff hand out tiny bottles of sweet-smelling sun lotion and the She’s Mercedes teepee has a never-ending supply of potted plants for festival-goers to take home as sustainable souvenirs.
At 08:00 the festivals early birds gather at the main stage for 30 minutes of meditation from Caitanya, a group who incorporate Hare Krishna chants with mindful meditation. A crowd gathers to meditate as one in a spiritual experience, the morning sun warming our skin, Munich’s TV tower silhouetted against the clear blue sky; a beautiful way to start the day.
The 5km run
At 09:00 German rap superstar Roger Rekless enters stage left, his instantly recognisable voice booming over the microphone: “Guten morgen Wanderlust!!!” Our very own DJane Sünne takes to the decks as Roger Rekless leads the entire festival through a warm-up. It’s an incredible sight: about 1200 mindful warriors bending, flexing and stretching to the sound of house tunes while Roger Rekless freestyles over. His aim this morning is to get the crowd hyped for their 5km run around the Olympic Park, and he smashes his target – by the time we’ve finished our stretch the energy has soared; just like the temperature.
And we begin the 5km run. It’s a beautiful experience, jogging alongside hundreds of like-minded humans with the Wanderlust representatives playing music and yelling encouragement over loudspeakers. Friends jog side-by-side, chatting and smiling under the sun. The landscape is breathtaking, the grass lusciously green and the rolling hills creating a sort of HIIT workout – one minute uphill and the next minute down.
After 3km I’m exhausted but the hype-folk at various stations keep me going and soon the finish post is in site. As I run over the WANDERLUST finish line, high-fives from all angles, I feel on top of the world – and the day has only just begun.
The Yoga Session
To recover I grab a refreshing chia and mango smoothie from the True North Cafe before we start the second part of our Mindful Triathlon: a 90 minute yoga session. It’s 11am, the sun is hot, and the Wanderlust yogis lay on their mats before the mainstage awaiting the session from yoga extraordinaire Eva Klein.
Her energy onstage is contagious. “Wow,” she says happily. “It’s so beautiful to be here today.” DJ Sünne accompanies Eva’s energetic, revitalising morning yoga session. A sea of yogis follow the flow from downward dog to Chaturanga to low lunge. Eva guides us through breathing techniques with such vitality it’s as though the entire capacity of Wanderlust is breathing as one. “Your body is more than just a brain taxi,” Eva tells us. Teaching such a huge crowd is a true skill and Eva knows how to make everybody laugh. “Hold on to your neighbours!” She says, and instructs the entire crowd to get into a line with their arms around each other. It’s funny, sweaty and an effective way to keep our balance as we progress from tree pose to one-legged warrior to backwards lunge. The entire festival erupts with laughter and the energy and good vibes soar even higher.
After our yoga session it’s time for the third and final part of our Mindful Triathlon: meditation. German rapper and meditation guru Curse guides the festival through a 30 minute meditation mantra, relaying his wisdom to the masses. (Check out our blog post next week for our exclusive interview with the man himself.)
The fun-filled, activity-packed afternoon
The afternoon is dedicated to a huge range of activities from stand-up paddling to aerial yoga to handstand workshops to inspirational talks. I only got to experience a small segment of all the amazing activities and workshops on offer but you can check out the full schedule here. Here’s a breakdown of my incredible afternoon:
13:00: I wander over to one of the food truck’s next to the lake and pick up a delicious beef and sour cream wrap with fresh salad. It tastes really, really good especially after a 5km run and a 90 minute yoga session.
13:30pm: Christina Wechsel gives an inspirational talk at the She’s Mercedes tent. This incredible woman lost her mother to cancer in the same year that she lost her best friend and her leg in a car accident in the Australian outback. Her talk about how she overcame her mental obstructions to run up the Alps, swim in Lake Zurich and climb the Rockies is unbelievably moving and inspiring.
14:00pm: Do what you love: teach yoga. Sophia from Fitogram and Alene from USC give a joint workshop on how to turn your yoga teaching into a lucrative business. The level of engagement and the idea exchange between like-minded yogis is through the roof and we hope to have some new yoga partners joining the USC family soon!
14:45pm: Athleticflow. Right next to the main stage with the speakers pumping out fun and upbeat tracks, Simon from Athleticflow guides a handful of brave Wanderlusters with remaining energy through an intense, mind, body and soul opening workout, as unique as it is challenging.
Athleticflow is a combination of yoga and HIIT and the result of a debate between husband and wife team Simon and Nora Kerstin. “Our aim is to make the athlete totally complete,” Simon tells me in the USC tent. “It’s a combination of my world and the world of my wife. She’s a full-time yoga instructor and I come from professional tennis so I was doing boxing, CrossFit – high intensity, full-power all the time.”
Simon challenged his wife to do ten push-ups and she couldn’t. But then she challenged him to do a Warrior III pose – and he couldn’t. “We tried each other’s training and we realised pretty soon that tapping into an uncomfortable zone made us both stronger in our chosen field.” However, nowhere offered a combination of these two activities so the pair decided to create it themselves. Their classes soon sky-rocketed in popularity in Zurich and it only grew from there. Now the couple do teacher training, sharing their techniques all around the world so others can take Athleticflow to their home cities. The couple even wrote a book about their journey.
The day has been beautiful, exhausting, sweaty and inspirational. As the partners, tents and event spaces slowly pack up I catch up with Julia to learn about her ‘true north’ perception. “It’s about finding a healthy escape from daily life. We’ve created a platform where we can all come together and exchange and inspire. For me it’s not about just having teachers on stage but it’s about the community coming together. It’s hard to describe the feeling but it’s amazing – you leave with more energy than when you arrived.”
And after a 6am start, a 5km run, a 90 minute yoga session, a 30 minute meditation practice and a full day of meeting and chatting with festival-goers, I realise that although I’m physically exhausted, emotionally I’m light as a feather.
USC members can attend Wanderlust Festivals across Germany and France for free! Don’t miss the opportunity to experience this beautiful festival and to find your true north. For more information on how to retrieve your free ticket, read our blog post.