Wanderlust

WELCOME TO WANDERLUST by Kassandra Horn

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In case you missed it, in July I joined the brand ambassador program for Wanderlust Hollywood - a gorgeous studio located in the heart of Hollywood on a mission that extends far beyond movement on the mat. Wanderlust is creating a community rooted in mindful living and a safe space for you to explore your unique path to a deeper yoga practice, self-growth and enlightenment - to “find your true north.” I also happen to love all things travel so Wanderlust by every definition speaks to my soul.

As I sat down to write this post, I found myself reminiscing on the first class I took here. I don’t recall the teacher but I ventured outside my comfort zone that morning with the help of my friend Sandy for an unexpected surprise. I’m telling you the energy and peace I felt when I walked into this place is unprecedented. And I’ve tried quite a few different yoga studios and styles in this lifetime.

For one, the interior design is ON POINT. I’m immediately relaxed and drawn to the aesthetically pleasing bookshelves and merchandise dressing the entryway. They also have an inviting outdoor patio and cafe with a menu committed to eating local, sustainable and ethical while remaining delicious. I crave their Stumptown coffee - a little taste of the familiar Pacific Northwest - smoothies and bowls hardcore. And then there’s the most beautiful studio layouts with names like ‘The Greatest Place’ and ‘The Haven.’

But the teachers… The humans are the gravitational pull that would eventually point me back here with a bigger purpose. The ones I choose to lead me on this journey radiate with positivity, soul and intention every time they step into the room. They work so hard at what they do and it’s evident in the messages they bring forth to carry beyond the class and into our every day. They align with my own personal values of curiosity, kindness and integrity. Put it this way — next to practicing in Ubud, Bali, looking out into the jungle with birds chirping in my ear, this is as good as it gets.

Watching the studio evolve, attending classes on and off during the past two years as I navigated in and out of my own growing pains, makes me even more grateful be part of this world and to help them celebrate three years in LA this month. Do I think it’s a coincidence? No way! They’re really onto something with this true north business. :)

Have I convinced you to check it out for yourself? Read on for a deeper dive with the Wanderlust team in NY and LA, plus some fave photos of the studio. I’m incredibly thankful to them for the insightful Q&A and hope you find something here that inspires you to drop by and see us.

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What are three words that embody the spirit of Wanderlust Hollywood?

“Curious. Passionate. Engaged.”  

What does it mean to"'Find your true north"?

“To quest both inside yourself and out in the world to discover the things that reveal your highest purpose in this lifetime.”

How would you describe the Wanderlust festival experience to someone who's never been?

“Your days are filled with classes, lectures, and adventures in nature, and your evenings are filled with music, food and community.”

What is your inspiration for new dishes added to the cafe menu?

“We are a farm to table scratch cooking cafe - So the season definitely gets our creative juices flowing, both in selecting the key ingredients and also as we envision an experience that we are creating.  A meal is so much more than just it’s ingredients- it’s truly a source of community and health!”

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What are five Wanderlust goodies you can't live without?

“We love our early morning heated flows, gluten free banana bread muffins, dirty chai’s in the morning with almond milk, sitting outside on the patio with friends, and watching the sunset from the rooftop.”

How is Wanderlust Hollywood growing its presence in the Los Angeles/Hollywood community?

“By continuing to connect with new communities and companies whom we align with, and continuing to understand what is new in the world of yoga, wellness, and delicious food, all while maintaining our core values and staying true to our roots. We love making new friends, and do so everyday! Whether we are out in the community sharing the Wanderlust vision and hosting offsite classes, or welcoming someone new into the space, we love a juicy new connection.”

What are some key attributes of a Wanderlust yoga instructor?

“First of all, a good teacher has to be passionate about transmitting their own experience.  Then they need intelligence, compassion, and dedication… especially to make it through the long days of driving from one teaching gig to another.”

How do you come up with the focus of your Workshops?

“With workshops we aim to illuminate the less explored aspects of the Yoga practice - or the other 7 limbs of the 8 limbed path.  In a ‘regular’ asana class, we don’t ever get to dive too deeply into meditation or pranayama or the other more contemplative practices, or the more technical parts of the practice like anatomy or philosophy.  We also offer teacher oriented intensives - because a good teacher is a perennial student.”

Wanderlust Interviewees:

  • Sage Miller, Community Marketing Manager

  • Kimberly Small, Director of Publicity

STEPPING INTO SOUND BATHS by Kassandra Horn

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Let me preface this post with a friendly reminder that I am very much in an information-gathering phase of my "spiritual enlightenment." I'm reading books, attending classes, podcasting the heck out of Oprah's Super Soul Sundays and generally enjoying new different discoveries and viewpoints I'm encountering along the way. I've never considered myself to be a religious person so these are some of the ways I find peace. 

Until about a month ago, Sound Baths were just about as foreign to me as a cool day in California (ba dum tsss). I was intrigued and wanted to check it out, and yet I also perceived them to be a little too hippie dippy, woo woo, for my liking. I was afraid of what I didn't know or understand, so I avoided... until I didn't. 

BABY STEPS

I'll do my best to keep this part brief but my first sound bath experience began with meeting a friend for drinks at happy hour beforehand. BIG mistake. You can imagine, walking into a large room with vaulted ceilings and proceeding to try and lie down, relax, empty your mind after throwing back a cocktail. The lovely instructor told us how each her three gongs represent the energies and cosmic vibrations of Mercury, Earth and Pluto. And as a closet science geek, I was HOOKED on every word. But I couldn't calm down. My heart raced, my anxiety triggered and my mind wandered away from the beautiful space she created for us as I shamed myself for having that drink even though I enjoyed it in the moment.

An hour later, I found gratitude for all of it on the drive home. Thankful I went for drinks with a new friend because I really value our time together; thankful I attempted my first sound bath because now I can prepare better for the next one; thankful that I got a healthy dose of astrology and reminder that I love learning about our connection to the universe. You better believe I fired up the Netflix docs on space exploration and revisited the difference between cumulus and stratus clouds. Exciting stuff! 

Then, a couple weeks later, I got the invite from my Wanderlust ambassador lead to help host a rooftop Sound Bath at Neuehouse in Hollywood. This was my chance to do the thing right. And not only would I participate, I'd get to set up the space, meet tons of new people and see first-hand how Wanderlust engages other like-minded brands in the area to put on community outreach events. Sweeet. Sign. me. up. 

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ROUND TWO

Arriving at Neuehouse is a treat on its own. The place is stunning, with meticulous interior design and attractive LA professionals who pay top dollar to co-work in a space that has all the fixings. The cherry on top is two large rooftop areas, one for hosting outdoor movies and the other for a number of other activities including our sound bath special. 

Another gorgeous day in LA, the sun was still high in the sky at 5pm and perfectly displayed the cozy ambiance we created for a packed house. The combination of yoga mats, pillows, blankets and faux sheepskin throws, plus gifts from Wanderlust Hollywood and Linne Botanicals - I've never met an adult nap this chic.

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Victoria Keen was our spiritual guide for the evening, and she is awesome. One of those humans who immediately puts you at ease with her smile and makes you feel like you can ask anything. Her energy is contagious and before I knew it I was picking her brain about crystals, the benefits, ways I could recharge them for different uses, Mercury Retrograde, the new moon. I could have talked with her for hours but the show must go on. 

Once everyone settled, Victoria explained what we could expect from her approach, that we may have visions or the clearing of energetic patterns within, and the reason for practicing at this time of day. Her intention was to spend the hour turning toward a new, more inward season and, if everything timed right, for all of us to awaken as the sun set over Hollywood. #Blessed

NOW THIS IS WHERE IT GETS INTERESTING... 

I'm lying there, wrapped in a blanket, outside (my favorite place to be ever), eyes shut, taking in the incredible sound sorcery of gongs, chimes and other instruments Victoria shared with us. So much creativity and vibrational movement. Why could I not relax?!

Once again, I was caught up in my random thoughts and to-do lists, taking me away from the present moment. Unable to sit still and sink into the gift of being surrounded by 100 sleeping beauties under the sunshine. I remembered how I was told sound baths can conjure up deep feelings, physically and emotionally, and it's good to take some time after to decompress but I never expected to feel so much at once. 

In that moment, I was tense, frustrated and discouraged, like the art of meditation and 'being present' may in fact be impossible for little old me. One one hand, my rational brain knows this is not true. Like anything, it's a practice, and I forget that at times where I want to be the very best and nail something on the first try. And on the other hand, am I going to need a therapy session after every meditation? Or is this kind of intensity a spiritual breakthrough? 

DISCLAIMER: If you know me, you know I'm EXTRA hard on myself. It's something I'm aware of and doing what I can to consciously keep at bay. But it's also part of who I am and I want to embrace it. Just FYI as you read my posts.

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THE MORAL OF THIS STORY

Breakthrough or not, I left with a stronger connection to myself. I love putting on events that bring communities together around a shared passion - it's part of my day job and something I crave. I also had an amazing time bonding with my Wanderlust team and meeting Victoria, whom I will continue to follow and grow with. Find out more more about her journey here.

While I wish I operated from a place of chill mode every time I sat down to meditate, I get it now. I get that it's not easy or everyone would do it. I get that it takes commitment and I will keep trying. And, by the way, I totally recommend getting curious if you're at all interested. We get so stuck in our surface brain day in and day out, completing tasks and repeating routines. It can be a breath of fresh air to step outside your comfort zone and into a sound bath. ;) 

I also recognize they're not for everyone. If I give a few more attempts with similar outcome, my body may be telling me this isn't the right fit and I'll stick to some of the other ways I have learned to calm my mind (Reading for one! Book review to come...) 

What are your thoughts, fears or perceptions of sound baths? Are their other mindfulness methods that work for you? Wanderlust Hollywood has a huge variety of classes and workshops, spanning yoga, meditation, sound baths, and more - something for everyone. 

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