STRATTON MOUNTAIN - For some, it's the physical aspect. You twist, turn and "pose" in various ways that stretch muscles and build strength. Who needs the gym?
For others, the attraction is more mental and spiritual - building self-awareness through meditation, finding relaxation and a union of mind, body and spirit.
And often the pursuit of the one will lead to the other. But whatever the motivation, as well as a more down-to-earth enjoyment of being part of a larger community that finds fulfillment during the day and listening to good music and entertainment by night, the Wanderlust Festival at Stratton, which opens today and runs through Sunday, June 24, has something for almost anybody, its organizers say.
"Clearly we have a lot of yoga, and that's great and people come for that, but one thing we realized is that people really came (last year) for some of the other experiences," said Jeff Krasno, one of the co-founders of festival.
Last year about 3,000 people came for the festival, which stretched over parts of four days, braving rain and inclement weather for much of it. Now in its second year, Krasno expects at least as many - maybe more if the sun shines a little more often than a year ago.
Wanderlust launched its first festival in Squaw Valley, Calif., in 2009, and added Stratton last year. Krasno spent his summers in Grafton as a youth, and his brother went to the Putney School, so bringing a Wanderlust
This year's format will be similar to the inaugural one in 2011. More than 60 yoga instructors will be leading classes or workshops, starting at 8 a.m. on Thursday, June 21. There will be featured speakers, art exhibits, winetastings, a farm- to-table dinner, hiking and time for wandering around. Then there will be musical entertainment, all the way from major headlining acts such as Ziggy Marley on Saturday night, and Ani Difranco on Friday night, to others with more of a smaller, cult following.
In short, the day time is set up for health and wellness activities, Krasno said, while at night, the entertainment and other social events brings everyone together around a communal experience.
"That's been out model and it seems to work pretty well," he said. "Everyone has their cool individualistic experiences during the day and then people converge to take in a great show."
A few tweaks, like more hiking events, and an expanded lecture series, have been put in place for this year - along with a bigger cover over the mainstage area just in case Mother Nature decides to get mischievous again - but otherwise, someone who attended last year will recognize the contours of this year's event, he said.
Among the more than 60 yoga teachers and instructors who will be leading classes and workshops during the four days of Wanderlust will be a few Vermonters.
Diana Whitney is from Brattleboro, and she, along with her husband, run a yoga studio called Core Flow Yoga and Sports. The name reflects their common interest in athletics, and using activities like running, cross-country skiing and rowing and blending them with yoga concepts and practices, she said.
This will be her first year at Wanderlust, and she will be leading an intermediate level class called Dynamic Core Flow. It's not
"But I also emphasize an attitude of kindness towards yourself, which is possible, even in the midst of a challenge," she added. "Having compassion towards yourself when something is difficult; it can apply to anything. That's one of the beauties of yoga practice; you can expand it into your life and relationships."
Sofi Dillof and Jane Jareckie, are from the Laughing River Yoga studio in Burlington.
Dillof has been teaching yoga since 1996, and will be returning to Wanderlust for a second time. She will be leading two classes this time, one of them similar to one she did last year, which focuses on using yoga as a tool for coping with anxiety and depression, she said.
"I'll be introducing some very traditional yoga techniques that can be ways of dealing with mood management skills," she said. "It sold out quickly; every time I offer it it's very popular. Many people suffer from it (anxiety and depression) and are looking for more holistic ways of dealing with it, or complimenting whatever medication they may be taking."
Jane Jareckie, who along with Dillof and a third teacher, Emily Garrett - who will also be leading a class at Wanderlust - are co-founders of Laughing River studio. Jareckie will also be teaching a Wanderlust class for a second time. Hers, however, will come with a slight twist from the common visual of a group of seekers in meditative pose.
She will be teaching a class on "Mindful Marketing." The point will be to seek ways to bridge the gap between yoga spirituality and business people, in an authentic, yoga way, she said.
"It's quite a challenge," she said. "Contradictory in some ways, even."
The idea is to bring some of the values often associated with yoga, such as balance, non-posessiveness and moderation - and apply them to marketing, she said.
The Wanderlust Festival kicks off at 8 a.m. on Thursday, June 21. For more information, visit stratton.wanderlust festival.com.