Back In February, I had planned to spend the weekend in Thredbo at a Wanderlust Festival; set to be a three day wellness retreat consisting of yoga, paddle-boarding and mountain air, it sounded like a much-needed post-party detox following on from my thirtieth birthday celebrations. Alas it was’t to be; my sister and her best friend KC – who were staying with me at the time – decided to extend their stay in Sydney, and not knowing when I’d next see them I gave my Wanderlust tickets to a friend, and made a promise to myself I’d go at the next earliest opportunity.
Thankfully, I didn’t have long to wait. Soon after my sister’s departure, Wanderlust announced they were holding a one-day mindful triathlon on Bondi Beach; a stones’ throw from my house. Offering the perfect chance to hang out with some of my fellow yoga teacher trainers, a number of us bought tickets before signing up to the plethora of activities on offering; from an early morning soft-sand run, to a beach yoga session taught by Boys of Yoga and a thirty minute guided meditation.
And so the day for Wanderlust finally arrived, and it with it the best kind of weather; an early morning Autumn chill, followed by a day beautiful sunshine and a cool sea breeze. By the time we arrived on the beach at South Bondi, which had been cordoned off for the day’s festivities, there were yoga mats a-plenty lining the sand and crowds beginning to form of lycra-clad girls in their masses around the various food stalls offering the Sydney-staple of acai bowls and smoothies.
Having completely destroyed my legs when training for the London Marathon a couple of years ago by avoiding post-running stretching at all costs – I decided against the soft sand run – which is much harder than it sounds, and instead visited a number of the stalls with my friend Candice. As well as a couple of clothing brands and food stalls, we visited Bondi Yoga House – a newly opened yoga and wellness retreat run by Bondi locals Ben Gould and Amanda Grace who were offering samples of the Orchard Street Botanical Tea they use as part of one of their weekend cleansing retreats.
Having mooched around the site for a while, we then made our way back to our mats for the seventy-five minute yoga session run by Boys of Yoga. And while doing yoga on the beach sounds heavenly, with sand underneath your feet and the sounds of the waves crashing against the shore lulling in the background, from a practical point of view it’s certainly not the easiest way to practise yoga. For the first part of the session I got very caught up in the unevenness of the sand beneath me, the fact that the it was going everywhere and I was constantly having to brush my hands to avoid them feeling gritty. But as I continued in my practise, the distractions soon fell away and I found myself fully present in the moment – albeit covered in sand.
After the yoga session, we were led into thirty minutes of guided mediation by founder of 1 Giant Mind Jonni Pollard. He explained that traditionally, asana is practised to prepare the body for mediation, and that not ending your yoga practise with mediation is the equivalent to preparing a meal without actually eating it. And thus the next thirty minutes were spent in silence and stillness. I still struggle with mediation; and it certainly isn’t something that comes easy for me, but opening my eyes at the end of the thirty minutes, to see 3000 people around me mediating on the beach, listening to the sound of the ocean and with the wind in my hair was a pretty incredible feeling.
My favourite picture from Wanderlust 108 is the one below, taken by Yoga Beyond. It shows one of the Tibetan monks from the Gyuto Monastery, who are currently in residence at Bondi Pavilion, overlooking the beach. A perfect example of the old and the new paradigms merging together in a powerful way; the times may be a-changing, but the message is very much still the same.