Wanderlust Yoga Festival organizers have a designed a truly all-encompassing event for Squaw Valley attendees this year with some surprises.
June 20-23 | Olympic Valley
“We really consider this a time to come together and retreat. It’s a time to put down our devices so we connect with ourselves and connect with our truth,” says Kim Small, spokesperson for Wanderlust. “Squaw Valley is an extraordinary locale. The nature of the environment is magical. It’s as if the rest of the world falls away.”
In addition to yoga and variations on yoga, such as acro-yoga and yoga on a standup paddleboard, there are meditation and breath classes, some of which are taught by male yogis. The all-encompassing festival is also an all-inclusive one, returning to Olympic Valley from June 20 to 23.
“My life was fairly empty. I lost my purpose. I was chasing the dollar and my relationships were challenged. I traded my morning meditation for a morning train ride and my evening meditation for a glass of scotch.”
According to statistics, 80 percent of yoga practitioners are women, which leaves men at 20 percent. Yoga Alliance claims more men are practicing yoga today, at least 10 million currently. That’s a significant increase from 2012 when 4 million men were practicing yoga. With all of the benefits yoga provides, it makes sense that more men are jumping on board.
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And begs the question: Who are the men of yoga? In Tahoe, there are only a handful of male teachers including Walter Lightener, Bill Folkman and Mark Lundbeck. This year there are eight male yoga and meditation teachers on the Wanderlust program.
Meditation teacher davidji will be offering meditation classes during the event. He had been a New Yorker working at the World Trade Center in mergers and acquisitions.
“My life was fairly empty. I lost my purpose. I was chasing the dollar and my relationships were challenged. I traded my morning meditation for a morning train ride and my evening meditation for a glass of scotch,” says davidji.
He was walking down a street in SoHo past a row of cardboard boxes when a homeless man grabbed his leg and asked, “What’s going to be on your tombstone?”
“I felt a whooshing sound. It was as if there were just us. After I walked by, I had to sit down and regroup,” says davidji.
He went home, told his wife about the experience and she suggested he quit his job. He went on a retreat with Deepak Chopra and his life’s trajectory shifted. During the retreat, he meditated for six hours a day for a week. He asked Chopra what he should do with his life and Chopra told him to go to India and find his purpose.
Davidji visited a number of ashrams and traveled throughout India. He read the “Bhagavad Gita” and found a passage that resonated with him about establishing oneself in the present moment. He returned home to New York and eventually went to the Chopra Center where he asked to apprentice with Deepak and David Simon. He offered to help them with the center and their finances for a chance to study with them.
He apprenticed with Chopra for 10 years. He learned Ayurveda, an ancient Indian holistic science, and practiced yoga and meditation. He eventually left the center and began teaching meditation.
He teaches people how to de-stress. Davidji has worked with large corporations and the U.S. Department of Justice, offering mindfulness performance to police officers.
“I am a translator,” says davidji, who calls his meditation style light hearted. “We don’t have to take meditation so seriously.”
He uses fun techniques that are memorable, bring your attention to the breath and help you to be a little more present.
According to davidj, men are slow to embrace yoga because, “Men are told to push harder, do more, be the doer, don’t be sensitive.” He cites business leaders such as Richard Branson who are successful and sensitive and think people like him will give men permission to get in touch with themselves.
Yoga teacher David Romanelli was introduced to yoga in L.A. in 1996 when he took a class with Seane Corn, an internationally celebrated yoga teacher.
“It was a profound and soulful experience. It kicked your butt and was physical and soulful,” says Romanelli.
He moved to Phoenix, Ariz., and started “At One Yoga,” a chain of yoga studios. Next, he moved back to L.A. and started Yoga and Chocolate classes. He partnered up with Vosges Haut-Chocolat founder Katrina Markoff.
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“We would do yoga and after Sivasana [a yoga pose], eat chocolate. In a heightened state, our tastes were heightened,” says Romanelli.
His classes evolved into Yoga and Wine, Yoga and Jazz and Yoga for Foodies. He’s written a number of books including, “Happy is the New Healthy: 31 Ways to Relax, Let Go, and Enjoy Life NOW!” and is currently working on a book inspired by super centenarians.
“There are only 60 people on the planet who are 110 or older. The book is about the lessons of wisdom from the oldest and wisest among us,” he says.
After taking a break from yoga for a number of years, Romanelli says that he is excited to be back teaching as a part of Wanderlust.
Along with a number of male yogis, there are plenty of female yoga teachers who will bring their love and wisdom to Olympic Valley, as well.
For more information and a complete schedule of classes and events, visit wanderlust.com/festivals/squaw-valley.