Confessions of a yoga festival rookie (or, what NOT to do at Wanderlust)

Published on June 6, 2011 by      Print
facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

By Laura Riggs

I hate Yoga Journal Conferences and all other new age hippyfests disguising themselves as yoga festivals.

They remind me of the astonishing ability of Western culture to take any ancient, revered spiritual system and commercialize the hell out of it. Marketing geniuses have done a really wonderful job of bringing yoga to the masses by making more simple (aka dumbing down) what yoga means. Practicing yoga is now simply a “really good workout,” and going to these types of events is seen as a social networking outlet. (Versus when one attends the Kumbh Mela — now those people know how to put on a festival.)

The last, and only, time I went to the coveted YJ Conference in Estes Park I felt like an outcast next to the other “yogis” who were much more in-the-know when it came to proper spiritual etiquette. At check-in I became acutely aware of the glaring looks I received up and down as I passed by women who clearly quickly catalogued me as one who did not belong to their Ganesha Patchouli Yoga Sorority (what I call GPY).

Having gone through that experience, I can pass on the knowledge I learned the hard way.

Here are a few mistakes I made as a Yoga Festival Rookie:

1.) I did not pack the proper transparent white yoga pants to prance like a tiger back and forth on my mat while seeking to get in touch with my inner “Shakti Goddess.”

2.) I stayed in a quaint little hotel in town outside of the village — not in the village proper.

3.) I mentioned to a GPY sorority sister that I was really looking forward to attending a workshop on the interpretation of the Yoga Sutras* (since I have never understood WTF Pantanjali was talking about and was encouraged that the workshop might offer some insight) — instead of going watch the Master Yoga Teacher Spew Out Her Own Political Views with the cool yogi kids.

* Side note: After attending the Yoga Sutra workshop, led by a really lovely, sweet man, I concluded I would be better off to first smoke some opium and then try to read through the sutras. Maybe then I would finally come to that cosmic understanding of the universal truth — where you transcend consciousness and begin reading people’s minds. Oh, and walk through walls – I love that one. I keep trying it out of respect to this teacher, but alas, I just end up with nasty bruises on my shoulders, knees, or forehead.

I feel spurred to offer these tips to any yogis out there who are considering attending the upcoming Wanderlust Yoga Festival Tour (which I keep imagining that is somewhat like the traveling carnivals that roamed the West through most of the 19th century. If you do attend — and there is a bearded lady — will you promise to send a picture?!). I’ve seen the recent, constant barrage of messages over multiple social networking sites amongst yoga teachers and practitioners alike.

The dialogue seems to have been compiled and edited from various GPY Sorority profiles into an overall summarization that goes something like this:

“I just bought my tickets to Wanderlust, I am so stoked! Who is with me?” ~post by GPY member Nada Shakti

“Oooo, I want to go, maybe we can room together?” ~post by GPY member Satya no Veraz

“Totally! I have only met you once, but am eager for us to be roomies, so that you can steal all my S**T while I am in my yoga bliss.” ~comments NS

“Cool, because I plan on using your money to buy X for me and all my friends at the party (aka overhyped rave) they are holding the night after we take yoga in the 98-degree heat under a F***ing tent all day.” ~comments SV

“Soooo awesome! That is the best part of yoga, right? The retox after the detox, man. By the way, did you say you were planning to steal my S**T?”. ~comments NS

“Yea – don’t burst my Tantric bubble – enjoy life while it’s here, every yogi for him/herself. I am only concerned about my own state of rainbow and unicorn happiness. Isn’t there something about non-hoarding anyway? Share the wealth!” ~comments SV

“Hey Lakshmi, are you going?” ~unsolicited post from CPY member Nada Shakti

“Um no, I would prefer to spend the $450 for the ticket on, oh say, rent or food?” ~comments Lakshmi Rasa (non-GPY member)

“What? You aren’t going?! What kind of a yogi are you?! Don’t you know that you HAVE to go to Wanderlust Festival; everyone will be there. It is like only the coolest festival of the year. If you go, then you will be in the GPY Sorority for sure” ~comments Satya no Veraz

“Thanks for the offer to be in the GPY Club, but really I would rather have someone put a stick of incense right through the center of my retina, light it on fire, wait for the entire thing to burn to ash, then rub the ash around what remains of that eyeball.”~ comments LR

“Ugh, I am de-friending her on Facebook. There is NO way she is a true yogi anyway!” ~post from NS to SV later that day.

Needless to say, if you are giddy with anticipation about attending this fairly new, overpriced marketing scheme that deludes people into believing that, once attended, it will be the only work they need to do in order to attain the “enlightenment” that Mr. High-As-A-Kite Pantanjali and possible drug –addicted writer friends spoke of, please do remember to pack the proper pants….

About Laura Riggs

Laura started practicing yoga roughly ten years ago and began teaching five years ago.  She left a successful career in advertising to teach yoga full-time because she decided it would be totally rad to pretend she was 21 again. She managed two large studios for the past two years, led many teacher trainings, and enjoyed having her soul sucked out of her. Now that the LSD in the Kool-Aid they had her drink before work each day has worn off, she is relieved to be rid of a company that believes first in money and second in “speaking your truth” — so long as it agrees with “our truth” because “our truth” can kick “your truth’s” ass!  She does admit there are days that she still checks the studio’s yoga schedule and experiences flashbacks – only to be grateful she no longer has to manage the severely undereducated teachers trying their best to fulfill the studio’s mandate to “Bring the Sexy Back” to yoga. Last time she checked herself, before she wrecked herself, yoga was never sexy to begin with…..

Filed under: Soulless Hippies and Tagged:


  1. linda says:


    did you run into anyone re-named Shakti Shanti Lakshmi Lotus Girl aka Matilda Schwartzenkoofer? hey, not that there’s anything wrong with the names Matilda or Schawartzenkoofer…..

  2. Yogini5 says:

    Been wondering if the over-55 crowd goes to those things … I mean to say, that age USED to be the main target demographic for yoga 40 years ago—so I just wondered …

  3. Laura says:

    HA! Linda, yes I believe her mat was 5 rows over. ;) Yogini5 – the over-55 crowd no longer attends the festivals – I believe the advantage to being a part of that group is that you have the good sense to no longer need their approval. :)

    • Yogini5 says:

      Hah, even if I HAD the time, the spare cash AND were able to rock that handstand the way John Friend proscribes/prescribes … the presence of the sorority “Mean Girls” is something left for the kind of camp follower who makes the DeadHeads of my era look downright independent-minded …

      • Laura says:

        You know that only good yogis can do handstands to get to their next life with good karma right? ;)

        • Yogini5 says:

          I have to worry about getting the most out of whatever’s left of THIS life, thank you very much …

          Either you are very funny or, deep down, Mr. Friend taught you everything about the meaning of life …

  4. Dr. K says:

    So happy to read this, Laura. (And I enjoyed the comments about the “love n’ light” yoga corporation “bringing sexy back”. Um. Yeah. I just wrote a long tirade about it, but then deleted it. Sometimes utter darkness makes us so beautifully aware of the light. They’re really doing their job well.) And, btw, I LOVE to see you writing!

  5. hollie says:

    Yo, thanks for this! And just in time for Boulder to be invaded by the Hanuman Festival, as if I wasn’t “doing yoga” incorrectly enough.

  6. John B says:

    Oh, Laura…I knew it would eventually come out. Take it from an authentic soulless hippie…nothing is too revered to commercializing the hell out of but you (more than any of the others) centered me and made me realize that all that finance stuff was, well…just finance stuff! Thanks.

  7. Adan says:

    liked recovering yogi from 1st time i saw it earlier this yr, then have been trying to learn what i can & integrate it with fitness theory & practice, & recently found so much hardening of beliefs-into-undisputed-facts, esp those that emphasize one segment of humanity over the rest, i now more fully appreciate what r.y. is offering ;-)

    thanks so much ya’ll

  8. Bonnie says:

    from one recovering yogi to another: thank you for confirming what i have suspected all along. now I am SURE that there is nothing at these festivals i am missing.

  9. Chrissy says:

    Hysterical…..I swear…so many people would rather fork over a ton of cash only to be teleported back to junior high via yoga mean girls, than take accountability for their own lives…I am all for learning or growing, but am glad that I never got sucked in to these festivals…because at one time i was close….

    • Yogini5 says:

      Oh, I so hear you … not that I ever was at Woodstock in my day … but at least the yoga there was free …

    • Laura says:

      Chrissy – you hit the bullseye – junior high is a wonderful way to describe the experience. Stay away from the festival, don’t feed the yogis! ;)

      • Chrissy says:

        Additionally, I might add, that if I went to a festival and people were bitchy it would probably be un yogic of me to drop my foot in their ass….which would most certainly take place under those circumstances :)

  10. NDieken says:

    Ha! Love this, thank you :)

  11. I’ve been published! | Become OM Blog says:

    [...] week, as requested.  I am excited to share the article that I wrote, as recently published by Recovering Yogi – one of  my new favorite websites!  I hope you enjoy it.  And for those of [...]

  12. I’ve been published! | Updates from the 'Hood says:

    [...] this week, as requested.  I am excited to share the article that I wrote, as recently published by Recovering Yogi – one of  my new favorite websites!  I hope you enjoy it.  And for those of you who [...]

  13. Peter McMaster says:

    It saddens me to see so much tension and hatred. If somebody else’s dance of freedom bothers you, then that says more about you than it does about them. Stop being so offended by other people’s peace and happiness. Everyone is going through their own journey, and no one needs you bitching at them. They haven’t done anything wrong. Let the shakti princesses and the eastern appropriators live their lives and be themselves, there’s nothing wrong with having a good time or trying to learn new things or have new experiences. Maybe yoga isn’t your thing. Maybe festivals aren’t for you. Cool. That’s totally fine. Go find what works for you, I wish you all the best.

    • Peter McMaster says:

      Ok, I read in more depth. What your saying holds a lot of truth. I’m young and I just don’t enjoy it when people preach negativity. That is all.

  14. I’ve been published! – A day in the life… says:

    [...] this week, as requested.  I am excited to share the article that I wrote, as recently published by Recovering Yogi – one of  my new favorite websites!  I hope you enjoy it.  And for those of you who [...]

    Response posted on May 5th, 2017 , 4:40 am Reply
  15. Confessions of a Yoga Festival Rookie (or what NOT to do at Wanderlust) – A day in the life… says:

    [...] Published on: [...]

Leave a Reply

Asterisk (*) marked fields are required

 characters still available (brevity is a form of creativity!)