On Friday, July 24, Wanderlust is putting down roots in Los Angeles, with a permanent home that will pull together all of the powerful yoga, meditation, and inspiration programming the globetrotting yoga-music festival is known for.
Wanderlust Hollywood is the latest manifestation of the company’s evolution from festival organizer to multi-pronged arbiter of cool, conscious culture. “It’s about creating community at a local level vs. at a destination,” says Jeff Krasno, who co-founded Wanderlust with his wife, renowned New York yoga instructor Schuyler Grant, founder of Kula Yoga.
The festivals, held in transporting places like Squaw Valley, Oahu, and Stratton, Vermont, have drawn thousands of attendees, who pack their mats to experience enormous classes with marquee-name yoga instructors, lectures with wellness thought-leaders, farm-to-table dinners, dance parties, and performances from musicians like Moby. Wanderlust has more recently opened yoga studios in select cities and debuted teacher trainings and lifestyle books.
“The festivals are so special and out of the quotidian,” says Krasno, who’s got a Columbia University vocabulary, music industry acumen, and yoga passion in spades. “The whole idea is that you’re all lit up by the experience—you go home after a festival and sign up for a CSA, go chase that new job, write that book, whatever you’re meant to do—Wanderlust Hollywood is a place where that inspiration can be sustained and tapped into on a consistent basis,” he says.
And Grant says the couple realized there’s a real need for that in LA. “People go to yoga, then go to their car. It’s so place to place to place,” she says. “So to have a space—the hour before and the hour and a half after—for a meal, or a glass of wine, or to meet a friend who’s a meditator—it’s the synchronicity of communities.”
Lay of the Land
Wanderlust Hollywood seems too grand to call a yoga studio, and too all-inclusive to call a Soho House, even if there are elements of both in the (memberships-taken but not needed) concept. The owners are flirting with it as a “social club” for cool, seeker, meditator, innovator types.
It will likely be cited for all its “firsts”—for integrating pretty much every cultural offering of the festivals into the urban hub, for offering more types of yoga than anywhere in the city, and for its pretty, prize real estate with three floors, a roof deck with amazing views, a healthy restaurant, meditation program, retail shop, and more.
Of the yoga studios, the largest is called The Greatest Place (named for the big tent at the festivals) and has exposed brick walls, 25 foot ceilings, space for about 200 yogis, and retractable screens with audio and video.
Two other studios include The Lab, a sweet second-floor space for 20 that has a quiet-room vibe and will be used for meditation and workshops, and The Haven, with a heating system for “warm” classes that can hold 45 mats and will have classes every hour on the hour.
And it’ll be hard to get out of there without spending $50, once you factor in a yoga class, then lunch or a cocktail, maybe a lecture or a meditation class, and a Wanderlust-branded Lululemon tank top.
Power of a Conscious Community
So why take the “wander” out of Wanderlust? When the festival tents come down, Krasno acknowledges, the community disperses in a sweaty, post-vinyasa poof. So creating something with permanence has been in the back of his mind. “I really believe in the power of community space to heal and transform people’s lives,” he says, referencing the one created out of Kula Yoga right around the time of September 11th, 2001.
But it was really Kundalini guru Gurhmuk who came up with the idea for Wanderlust Hollywood, including the idea of using the Golden Bridge space for it.
“I love the Wanderlust Festivals very much,” says Gurhmuk, who’s attended and taught at several. “When we wanted to leave the Hollywood area, I first thought of Jeff. I said to my husband, ‘If Jeff and Schuyler were to take our beautiful Golden Bridge site and make it into a Wanderlust Center, that would be so amazing.’”
Now interested in retiring, Gurhmuk says people in Los Angeles still very much need “places to gather in consciousness.” She sees Wanderlust as carrying the torch for new community in LA. “The dream of putting so many artists, talents, yogis, and musicians under one roof will [be a] draw…Nothing like this has ever been done in Los Angeles.” Her photo hangs prominently in the space’s new incarnation.
The Yoga Program and Its Music-Scored Method
Because a massive studio isn’t enough, Wanderlust has created its own yoga teacher training and method under Grant, and a large part of it is devoted to classes called Soulscape, yoga classes use state-of-the art sound and lights and synch asana and breath with music using BPM (Beats Per Minute).
“It’s an alignment-focused vinyasa flow, but music and tempo plays a much bigger role,” explains Grant, who, as a self-described “purist,” took some time to warm to the concept, but then found it brought the practice to another level.
She’s worked with DJs to craft playlists that have an arc and breath, and ran five teacher trainings over the last months or so, recruiting 50-60 new teachers to fill the roster of 25 classes per day.
Chad Dennis, a yoga instructor who’s been touring with Maroon 5 and Adam Levine for eight years, will be running the eclectic yoga program. He tapped his wife, Jennifer Perry, popular yogi Chelsey Korus, Jake Ferree, Normandie Keith (who taught Kundalini at Golden Bridge), about 60 others across all styles.
“There’s been a kind of playing favors in yoga,” Dennis says. “Like, ‘Oh, I just do Ashtanga, or I just do Kundalini.’ But I love an openness, of cross pollinating. I think hatha can learn from Kundalini masters and vice versa. That kind of learning can happen here.”
Meditate, then Dinner
There’s also an all-star team outside the yoga teachers, from Charlie Knoles, who’ll be running the modern meditation program, to celebrated chef-restauranteur-author-athlete Seamus Mullen (Tertulia, El Colmado), who’s created the Wanderlust Cafe, which will have seating for about 40 indoors and on a patio.
“I believe food is the foundation for health,” New York-based Mullen says. “While it may seem like a departure from food I’ve done in the past, it’s very much in line with my cookbook and with how I feel about food and how I eat—very vegetable centric, very little gluten, very limited dairy and meat. A lot of good, healthy fats, highly seasonal and energizing. Good, clean food.”
Is there anything healthy you can’t do at Wanderlust Hollywood?
“We want people to come and be there for four hours. That’s so much more a metric of our success rate than ‘We had 65 people in class today.’ If we can we create a sliver of the Wanderlust Festival here 365 days a year,” says Grant, “that would be amazing.” —Melisse Gelula
Wanderlust Hollywood, 1357 N. Highland Ave., West Hollywood, CA, 90028, (323) 967-8855, www.wanderlusthollywood.com
(Photos: Jesse Deyoung for Well+Good unless otherwise indicated)
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