Tag: yoga

Austin Yogis Unite at the Wanderlust Yoga Festival

By Silvana Di Ravenna, Emma Ledford and Andrew Masi

If you’re looking to unwind after a long and stressful week, going to a 4-day-long festival in the heart of downtown Austin probably isn’t at the top on your list – but you might rethink that after hearing about Wanderlust.

From Nov. 6-9, the Wanderlust Yoga Festival brought Austin yogis to 4th Street and Brazos for four days of diverse yoga classes, music, art and community. Beginner, intermediate and expert yogis alike found classes that fostered physical, mental and spiritual growth and relaxation in a healthy and welcoming environment.


A group of attendees at the Wanderlust Yoga Festival take part in a class. Festival activities were spread out over four days. Photo by Andrew Masi.


Zoe Mantarakis shows off one of her favorite yoga positions. Mantarakis led several different classes at the festival. Photo by Andrew Masi.

Zoe Mantarakis has been teaching yoga in Austin for 14 years. She led five very different classes at Wanderlust Austin this year, embodying the wide spectrum of yoga the festival offered.

She started with a self-empowerment class on Friday morning called “Nectar Within” and a meditative class called “Om Shanti Bliss-out.” Later that evening, she switched gears and led “Boom Boom Pow Black Light,” a collaboration with musician DJ Manny that she called a “party on your yoga mat.” She also taught a class on Saturday on her style of yoga rooted in ancient Sanskrit philosophy, “Yoga Illumined,” and a class on Sunday about self-discipline called “Tapas: Fire Within.”

Though her classes were very different from each other, they were “all on the same spectrum,” Mantarakis said, because they focused on creating community.

“Yoga is about bringing a community together and creating a tribe. So there’s many ways to accomplish that, and all of those ways are yoga,” she said. “So if it’s just sitting still and meditating, that’s yoga. If it’s having a party where we’re conscious and we’re all coming together, that’s yoga.”

Newcomers and expert yogis alike found Wanderlust classes that suited their needs. Festivalgoer Stephan Mazerand has been practicing yoga for about three months. His first love is running, and he discovered yoga as a way to help him stretch better.

Though he’s still a beginner, he was able to find classes at the festival that worked for him and helped him grow.

“The problem is I’m a runner, so I can’t straighten out properly,” Mazerand said. “There’s a bunch of poses. I’m not very good at them, and so the instructor was helping me out a little bit, you know.”

In an effort to get festivalgoers out of their comfort zone, Austin yoga teacher Dani Whitehead hosted an open-to-everyone acroyoga “jam” session. She hoped to get people to try acroyoga for the first time, but also provide an opportunity for advanced yogis to “come out and show off.”

“Acroyoga is kind of like dancing. There’s ballroom, there’s hip-hop, there’s contemporary, there’s ballet,” she said. “It can be for fun, it can be for performance, it can be as a workout, it can be to make friends. You can do anything you want.”


Dani Whitehead demonstrates her strength in a partnered acroyoga session. Whitehead teaches acrobatic partner yoga in Austin, and feats like this draw students to her classes. Photo by Andrew Masi.

Whitehead has been practicing acroyoga for about three years. Though it is more vigorous than traditional yoga, she hopes to get more people into it and grow the community.


Everyone was invited to participate in the acroyoga play session, as long as they did so safely. Photo by Andrew Masi.

“It is such an amazing practice to do with your friend, your boyfriend, your girlfriend, your children – and I am all about supporting that coming together and bringing people in, but also staying safe and taking care of each other,” Whitehead said.

Austin yogi Elizabeth Davis led hiking classes at Wanderlust to help people to “take their Austin outside,” expand their consciousness and find the magic in every moment. She urged her hikers to do self-inquiry work and have “authentic conversations” about their negative or shameful thoughts so that they could move past them and appreciate the present.

“Every moment is truly a gift. It’s a gift that we’re even together as human beings,” she said. “I’m so grateful to be a part of this amazing experience and community. It just reaffirms why I’m in the yoga community and why I do what I do. And I just couldn’t be more happy.”

Austin’s festival is just one of the many annual Wanderlust Yoga Festivals held across the U.S. and around the globe, including Canada and Australia. The festivals help grow and connect the many yoga communities across the world, Mantarakis said.

“To me Wanderlust Festival is all about tribe. And that’s essentially what it is. It’s a traveling group of yogis that grows at each spot and cultivates community within a certain location but then also across boundaries,” she said. “Once we’re connected, we’re a tribe. Across state lines, across country lines.”

Wanderlust Yoga Festivals Across the World (map created by Emma Ledford)
Wanderlust Yoga Festivals are held in multiple locations across the U.S. (including Hawaii), Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Click here for the schedule.

Practicing Your Practice: Yoga and Welding

Angela Buenrostro, Caroline Khoury, Jessica Duong and Kirby Camerino

Jack Sanders demonstrates basic welding methods on a piece of scrap metal.

Jack Sanders demonstrates basic welding methods on a piece of scrap metal. Photo by Caroline Khoury.

Participants clad in long-sleeved shirts, pants, gloves, and safety goggles gathered around the welding table where Austin, Texas artist Jack Sanders and owner of Design Build Adventure demonstrated basic metalworking techniques.

The group attended Sander’s inaugural “Yoga and Welding” one-day workshop the first Saturday of this month to try their hand at welding.

The day started with a yoga and meditation session designed to provide a mind-body experience to prepare participants for a day of metalwork. The session followed with a brown-bag lunch and lecture with Sanders where he discussed the safety rules and basics of welding.

Jack Sanders — founder of Design Build Adventure  Photo By Angela Buenrostro

Jack Sanders — founder of Design Build Adventure
Photo By Angela Buenrostro

“If you were to ask me what a perfect day would be, it would probably be something along the lines of spending two hours in the morning doing yoga and then building stuff the rest of the day,” Sanders said.

Sanders said most of the time he feels rushed in the morning, and the idea of creating a yoga and welding workshop is based off his philosophy of “Practicing Your Practice.”

“How do we exercise the type of practice that we want to have?” Sanders asked. “Well, it just means do it.”

With an enrollment fee of $125 per student and a maximum of ten students, the one-day workshop sold out in a week.

Sanders founded Design Build Adventure in 2005 with the mission of educating and serving in mind. But his interest in design go back to the playground in Kindergarten where he recalls stacking sticks to create little campfire scenes. In high school, Sanders said he took pride in the composition of lines in the lawns he mowed and how straight he could mow the edges.


Photo By Angela Buenorostro, Graphic By Kirby Camerino

After graduating from Auburn University, Sanders said his experience of being a student, an intern and later an instructor at Rural Studio, an undergraduate program of the School of Architecture, gave him a unique set of skills and interest.

“It was very clear from the earliest days after I graduated that I was going to have to author or write my own job description,” he said.

The name for Sander’s business came to him when he realized the experiential technique and process he and his team used. The business can be found in Northeast Austin.

“Instead of thinking about each project individually, what I started to think about my whole life is just this one continuous design build adventure,” he said. “I pick something up and learn something from every project and try to take that experience into the next project and it’s all an adventure.”

Adventure coordinator, Katie Ford, who started working with Sanders in 2013 after participating in one of his metalworking camps in Marfa, Texas said she enjoys the community the camps create.

“The sense of community that’s built every time we have a workshop among the people who are participating, it’s really a fun process to see,” Ford said. “They all arrive as more or less strangers and by the end of the experience, they’re friends.”

In addition to building a community, Design Build Adventure gives back. Their Heavy Metal Camp helps benefit the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians. Ford said she’s personally inspired by Sanders who likes to weave charitable causes into the work he does, especially in the education aspect of the business.

“They’re not only a solid design build firm,” Ford said. “They care about education, they care about sharing their passion for the design build process with others, and they care about giving back to the community, I think it’s a fantastic business model.”

Yoga 2

By Kirby Camerino

After the lunch and learn session at the yoga and welding workshop, the adventure crew asked the participants to design their favorite yoga positions by sketching them out on construction paper or using pipe cleaners. Once students were done, they worked in the shop to create their designs in metal.

“They’ve honed in on a vision and now they just want to make it happen,” Ford said.

When the workshop ended at sundown, the participants gathered to share their metalwork creations over cold beer and street tacos.

Participant Virginia Cobb named her welding design The Spirit of Warrior II, a standing yoga pose that builds strength and stamina. Cobb said she has always admired Sander’s artwork and since she enjoys yoga, she thought she’d give the workshop a try. But with zero welding experience, Cobb said she has “a newfound respect for how difficult it is.”

The Spirit of Warrior II.  Photo By Jessica Duong

The Spirit of Warrior II.
Photo By Jessica Duong

The Spirit of Warrior II came together with loose metal scraps Cobb found in the back of the shop. Cobb said she tried to put her design in a yoga pose, but it didn’t want to be in a pose.

“It was kind of like the metal just told me what it wanted to be,” she said.

Cobb said the enthusiasm of the crew and the sense of adventure she experiences were her favorite moments of the workshop.

“With their support they help you have the confidence to make something that is meaningful,” she said.

After the show and tell session, adventure crew member and Austin singer-songwriter Dan Dyer entertained the group with his guitar by the campfire.

When it comes to the adventure team, Jack Sanders said most of his team consist of people who started doing something for the business. The Design Build Adventure’s website describes the team as an “evolving group of highly skilled collaborators and creative thinkers” whose services range anywhere from renovation to demolition.

“One thing that really keeps this a design build adventure is that we try not to do the same thing over and over again,” Sanders said. “It’s always a search, it’s always a challenge, but it’s always an adventure, too because we have to figure out how to do it — we have to start from scratch every time.”