Wanderlust Yoga Festival isn’t just about yoga. The music has become an intrinsic part of this event. This year features Lettuce, Little Dragon, Dustbowl Revival and Dirty Bourbon River Show — only a handful of the artists who will light up Olympic Valley. The music is varied and diverse from kirtan or chanting to electronic music, blues, folk and Thai funk. The sounds of Wanderlust are nothing short of transformational.
Wanderlust Yoga Festival
July 20-23 | Olympic Valley
Priya Deepika Mohan is a South Indian-born sound healer, musician, dancer, attorney and human rights’ advocate who grew up in a traditional Indian household. She was drawn to yoga. She took her first yoga class 20 years ago, a Kundalini yoga class. Then she tried Bikram yoga and over the years has practiced many styles.
“My grandmother wasn’t very happy when I told her I was going to pursue yoga,” says Mohan.
Mohan had a front row seat watching the yoga and spirituality scene grow in the West and how the India culture responded.
“Sound healing starts from a place of deep listening, deep listening to the silence.”
– Priya Deepika Mohan
“The West liberated yoga. It is very commercialized. Healing the wounds of being Indian and seeing the culture commercialized by celebrities like Madonna and Gwen Stefani wearing bindi’s — bindi’s are the worn on the third eye point to remind of oneness with god — the popularity of girls wearing henna and watching the culture appropriated. I made a conscious decision to put away judgment,” says Mohan.
This former attorney practiced law in San Francisco and worked with a number of clients caught up in post 9-11 immigration issues, racial profiling and affected communities. She defended people from being deported. It was during this time she began offering one-woman shows using her voice and singing. She told stories about her clients that were cathartic and healing and decided to study sound healing at California Institute of Integral Studies with Silvia Nakkach.
“My whole life changed from there,” she says.
This classical trained dancer enmeshed herself in music, singing and yoga. She embraces Buddhism, hatha yoga, pranayama and sound healing in her work.
“It’s in my DNA, the Hindu Vedic culture and as an advocate and attorney it was important to relieve suffering on the planet,” she says.
In her sound healing, Mohan uses mantra, which is a repetition of sacred words for meditation and Vedic chanting of ancient songs from the Vedas or Hindu scriptures. She incorporates the Indian raga style of chanting and her music is much more with upbeat threads of electronic sound. Mohan adds a beautiful twist to her music.
“Sound healing starts from a place of deep listening, deep listening to the silence,” says Mohan.
Mohan’s first album is on the cusp of release entitled, “Hear in my Heart.”
Haunted Windchimes is a folk Americana band that makes its Wanderlust debut this year. Guitarist Inaiah Lujan and his wife, Desirae Garcia, who plays bass and baritone ukulele, founded the band. Lujan’s sister, Chela, plays banjo and Mike Clark plays fiddle, mandolin, harmonica, concertina and guitar. All four members are vocalists and songwriters.
“We consider ourselves storytellers,” says Lujan, whose parents delved in mysticism and philosophy. Lujan describes their music as vintage and nostalgic. The soul and spirit of folk music and Americana and in a modern context with a modern spin.
“Pete Seeger had a quote about folk music: ‘It’s like adding a link in a long chain.’ We like to think our music is our own personal link in folk Americana music — ancestry and respect for where we came from musically,” says Lujan, who studies folk music.
As a songwriter, Lujan has learned to trust his intuition and his process.
“The process changes and has changed over the years. I trust the song is going to find it’s way to me or I am going to catch the song. Sometimes I sit with the guitar and follow a meandering melody or there’s an initial spark. I am a servant to my craft and servitude is the highest form of love” he says.
According to Lujan, he allows the creative spirit in and channels it: “Sometimes it’s like taming a wild fire or trying to bottle lightening. The creative spirit is a tricky thing.”
Haunted Windchimes is one of the more unique bands performing at Wanderlust this year.
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit wanderlust.com/festivals/squaw-valley