HEAD OUT ON THE WATER AND TEST YOUR YOGA SKILLS ON A STAND-UP PADDLEBOARD AS PART OF THE WANDERLUST FESTIVAL
IF YOU’VE never heard of Wanderlust Festival, where has your inner yogi been? This week, thousands of participants will gather on the Sunshine Coast as part of a global movement to #find(your)truenorth. With renowned speakers, world-class musicians, yoga gurus, food and meditation experts, the multi-day Wanderlust Festivals have been held across the globe since 2009, after it all began as a one-off summer event in Squaw Valley, California. The workshops and experiences are designed to guide participants on a path towards mindful living, creating healthier, more inspired lives. Local stand-up paddleboard yoga teacher Katrina ‘Kat’ Harding is a veteran of the Wanderlust Festival circuit, presenting at events including Thredbo and Lake Taupo (New Zealand), and is about to head into her third year with the Sunshine Coast-based festival. She said it was an incredible feeling to be part of the Wanderlust community, which brought like-minded people together in a place they might not usually travel to. “It’s really the ultimate in life,” Kat said. “Food, music, yoga and community – that’s all you need really.” Kat, who grew up in Brisbane, was the first stand-up paddleboard yoga teacher to be accredited in Australia, having discovered the new-kid-on-the-block version of the ancient practice while completing her vinyasa yoga teacher training in the UK. She said she first tried SUP yoga after meeting her British-born partner, Tobi Donbavand, and moving to the Isle of Wright. A surf instructor, Tobi was a considerable influence in getting Kat out onto the water. “But it was too cold to surf,” Kat said. “One of my assignments for yoga teacher training was to research five different styles of yoga. I had already tried many styles of yoga in Australia, but hadn’t yet found one I connected with.” Kat found a natural connection with SUP yoga and was hooked. It suited her ingrained love of the outdoors and solved the sense of feeling confined in an indoor environment, although she still also teaches vinyasa and yin yoga in a Noosa studio. “I didn’t even know there was such a thing as SUP yoga,” she said. “But I love looking back on the world from the water. It’s a lot of fun, there’s less pressure and I feel it’s more accessible and light-hearted.” She said although the philosophy behind the varying yoga practices around the world was somewhat the same, people applied different strategies and focus to each, with postures developed through time. Stand-up paddleboard yoga uses the same poses on the water as you do on the land, and movements are adjusted to suit each participant, starting wider for beginners and gradually moving to narrower poses with practice. It also offers a particular sense of freedom, especially when you add in the Sunshine Coast’s backdrop of clear waterways, fresh air and a warm, sunny climate. And even if the weather is a little rainy, Kat said the boards were all anchored for safety… and chances are you’ll be getting wet anyway. “It’s just a really good way to slow down and pay attention to the world around you,” Kat said. “And if you’re not, you’ll be swimming in no time. “My aim is to keep people on their boards though. It’s the same teaching, based around where you’re looking – if you look up, you stay up, if you look down, you stay down.” In addition to Sunshine Coast-based classes and workshops, Kat also organises Australian-based yoga retreats at least once a year, in addition to overseas retreats in far-flung locations such as Mexico. Kat said when she started teaching, the aim was never to do just studio classes. “I personally didn’t get as much from classes as I did from workshops and retreats, so I wanted to share that depth of knowledge and experience with people. I didn’t know if it would work, but as it’s expanded I’ve also grown as a person,” Kat said. Yoga as a whole has grown as a movement in the west in the past few decades, with ancient traditions being whole-heartedly embraced in the new wave of authentic living. Kat said in the west, we were starting to realise the lifestyle we’ve created isn’t one that promotes health, with everyone now trying to make wellness an integral part of what they do on a day-to-day basis. “I feel as a society we go in cycles. Where once people didn’t trust ancient traditions, now science has proven the benefits. The ancient world knew that it worked, but in the west we didn’t have that knowledge instilled in us,” Kat said. Wanderlust provides an opportunity to explore that traditional knowledge with a positive community of people who are all riding the same wave. Grammy-nominated artist Toni Childs and hip-hop trailblazers Arrested Development (remember Mr. Wendal?) headline the music side of the festival. Guest speakers include Sarah Wilson (of I Quit Sugar fame), pro surfer Luke Egan and The Stillness project founder Tom Cronin. “The vibe is fun, with everyone enjoying themselves and getting involved. It’s not as crazy as a usual festival environment and not as hectic – people feel safe and everyone is on a more natural high,” Kat said. It’s all about exploring new ideas, making new friends and discovering new abilities – slacklining or aerial yoga anyone? Get in touch with Kat Harding at www.kathardingyoga.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
I FEEL AS A SOCIETY WE GO IN CYCLES. WHERE ONCE PEOPLE DIDN’T TRUST ANCIENT TRADITIONS, NOW SCIENCE HAS PROVEN THE BENEFITS.