FIND­ING BAL­ANCE

HEAD OUT ON THE WA­TER AND TEST YOUR YOGA SKILLS ON A STAND-UP PAD­DLE­BOARD AS PART OF THE WAN­DER­LUST FES­TI­VAL

Life & Style Weekend - - READ - WORDS: KA­RINA EAST­WAY PHO­TOS (this page): PA­TRICK WOODS (op­po­site page): THE WAN­DER­ING LENS

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 kat@kathard­ingyoga.com.

I FEEL AS A SO­CI­ETY WE GO IN CY­CLES. WHERE ONCE PEO­PLE DIDN’T TRUST AN­CIENT TRA­DI­TIONS, NOW SCIENCE HAS PROVEN THE BEN­E­FITS.

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