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Wanderlust Las Vegas: Is the yoga festival a fit for the City of Sin?


Cosmopolitan Hotel pool Las Vegas
Wanderlust is taking over the Cosmopolitan Hotel's Boulevard pool in Las Vegas (Photo: Cosmopolitan Hotel)

 

Jeff Krasno was an outdoor music-festival guy before he created Wanderlust yoga-music festivals with his yoga-instructor wife Schuyler Grant, founder of New York City’s Kula Yoga Project.

In three years, Wanderlust has grown from an annual Squaw Valley long-weekend with top yoga teachers to having an East Coast sister festival in Vermont and lots of one-act Wanderlusts in yoga-obsessed cities around the country, like New York and Seattle.

We were especially intrigued by one on the schedule for September—Wanderlust Las Vegas at the Cosmopolitan Hotel. At first this sounded like a sellout, but Krasno was surprisingly thoughtful about the counter-intuitive yoga venue. But we’ll never know if his plan for “a little grace in the City of Sin” works, because what happens at Wanderlust Vegas stays in Vegas. Read the interview:

jeff krasno wanderlust
Jeff Krasno of Wanderlust

You’re ending the 2011 Wanderlust season in Las Vegas. Was it always on the roster?
We’ve been working on it for some time, and it took a while to come together. We didn’t announce it until last Thursday. But it’s an amazing lineup—John Friend (founder of Anusara), Schuyler Grant, and the Thievery Corporation providing the music. And it’s a pretty unusual and compelling place for Wanderlust.

You said it! Squaw Valley, bucolic Vermont, and now Las Vegas. Really?
Yeah, we’ve had about 15 Wanderlust events, from New York City piers and rural Vermont to Miami, which I kind of classify as similar to Las Vegas, in that we’re doing yoga in a hotel spa environment. The Cosmopolitan is amazing like the Standard Hotel in Miami on the level of the spa, and it has an amazing pool.

Yes, but Las Vegas and yoga?
I’m kind of intrigued by Las Vegas because it has this reputation as the City of Sin. And there’s something about bringing grace and mindful living to a place known for gluttony and greed. But something interesting I learned about the city: There’s a huge performance community trying to live mindfully there. I don’t just mean in Cirque and Blue Man. Thousands of dancer-performers who do a lot of yoga, love their Whole Foods stores, and are trying to be healthy there.

How did you get John Friend to agree to go to Las Vegas?
Actually, John and the Anusara community are really open, playful, and modern in their sensibilities. They’re like, “Hey, let’s instill grace there, let’s find new angles for reaching people with the practice.” We’ve done so much work with John this year, and this is an amazing way to work with him again.

Wanderlust red tent for yoga
One of Wanderlust's dramatic yoga tents

Where will the classes be at the hotel. Is there tented outdoor space?
We drained half the pool to create a yoga practice stage environment over it for about 400 people, and it has views of all the iconic Las Vegas landmarks, like the Eiffel Tower [laughs]. It’s a huge undertaking, and an incredibly unique space for yoga. But that’s what we do—put yoga into really unique places.

You won’t use the inside of the Cosmopolitan Hotel?  
We will. There’s a new 5 billion dollar conference space that you would not believe. Las Vegas, for all of its hell, is a bastion of talent. There are so many awesome design details. We have a super fun wine-tasting experience planned and everyone will wear white, and there’s the show with Thievery Corporation. We expect a turn out of 3,000 for that, outside by the pool.

Sunday is September 11th. Is that at all factored in?
Yes, Sunday of the festival is actually the tenth anniversary of Sept 11th. Schuyler will teach class that day on yoga’s power to heal. The old Kula Yoga Project was two blocks from the World Trade Center. So to honor that date is important and symbolic for us, as it is for so many people, of course. But also because yoga is a symbol of healing for lots of people who do it. —Melisse Gelula

Wanderlust at The Cosmopolitan, September 10–11, 2011
Tickets are $127 for three yoga classes, wine tasting, and Thievery Corporation; lodging starts at $530.56 for two nights in a City Room (two Queen beds). Prices listed here include service charges. For more information or to book, visit www.cosmopolitan.wanderlustfestival.com