By Jen Winchester

For many yoga instructors, it’s often our own experiences on the mat that make us choose this path. But too often, instructors find their own practice harder to maintain as the more they teach. I’m guilty of this. My time on the mat where I take off my instructor hat and just BE the student sometimes takes a back seat to preparing for class and holding space for those that come. I wouldn’t trade it for the world, but I miss my yoga.


So, when the Wanderlust Festival headed back to Snowshoe, West Virginia, I knew it would be important for me to go again (I attended two years ago). What I didn’t imagine was the hope and inspiration this yoga and music festival would give me. Three full days of yoga with teachers I had heard of and admired, and teachers that were new to me. Three full days of music from artists I had never heard of but are now on regular rotation. And three full days of remembering why I do what I do.


I promised myself that I would just do yoga. I wouldn’t stop and take notes of a creative sequence to use in class or a theme to replicate. I would just be the student. And it was glorious. I felt so free to just close my eyes and breathe. I let the inspiration of these incredible teachers and time-tested teachings wash over me.


And I remembered why I’m here. I remembered why I quit my career to share this practice. I remembered what can happen when you let go of any expectations and just do your yoga. There were times when I was surprised at what happened on my mat, and times where a familiar feeling of ease moved through me.


And maybe most importantly, this gathering of like-minded souls on a mountaintop in West Virginia gave me hope. I was surrounded by individuals who were working to improve themselves so that we can improve our communities. We are part of something bigger, and my fellow yogis at Wanderlust see that. Yoga connected me to these people for the long weekend, but that feeling of hope came home with me.

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