Wanderlust Festival: Sounds like a stretch

Yoga and tunes collide at a unique festival

Girl Talk will perform at Wanderlust Festival. Witness, his unique yoga technique: “downward deejay.”

Girl Talk will perform at Wanderlust Festival. Witness, his unique yoga technique: “downward deejay.”

Photo By CHRISTOS SCHIZAS <a href="http://www.detroitartist.org/">www.detroitartist.org</a>

Wanderlust Festival is July 24-26 at Squaw Valley USA; find out more at www.wanderlustfestival.com.

While government bureaucrats struggle to create meaningful health-care reform for a weary nation, Indian mystics and cultural historians already have a cost-effective answer to universal health: more yoga, more music.

A 5,000-year-old art form, yoga originated in India and has been practiced by civilizations worldwide to improve flexibility and reach divine meditative states. Likewise, musical tones can actually reduce stress hormones and soothe tightly wound bodies and minds.

This month’s Wanderlust Festival fuses yoga and music in a three-day spectacle of physical and artistic hedonism that will kick your asanas and soothe your eardrums. Add the breathtaking scenery of Lake Tahoe’s Squaw Valley, and visitors could be so blessed out they might never make it to Burning Man.

In Sanskrit, yoga literally means the “yoking,” or union, of mind, body and spirit. And yoga has exploded in the past decade, with everyone from employers to Oprah encouraging us to live “a balanced life.”

Thankfully, both yoga and music tap into a part of our unconscious mind where words don’t—and shouldn’t—apply. They give our rational, thinking minds a break. As meditation guru Joseph Goldstein once asked his students, “Do you want to think or do you want to be free?”

The growing field of “music therapy” puts a scientific face on what teenagers have known for decades: Music makes us feel really great. You don’t even have to be making out to know that it promotes good health.

Studies have shown that the human stress hormone cortisol is reduced by soothing musical interludes. Music therapy can help alleviate pain, fight off depression, promote relaxation and improve overall quality of life. Researchers also have concluded that brain waves can synchronize with a fast musical beat to help promote both calm and concentration.

In the early 1990s, researchers discovered “the Mozart effect,” which indicated that listening to the great maestro’s music could produce a temporary boost in IQ that translated into higher test scores.

The American Music Therapy Association reports that its music therapists work in psychiatric hospitals, rehab clinics, senior centers, drug and alcohol programs, and even correctional facilities, where they customize musical programs for individual. The goal: to improve lives on a physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual level. These therapists treat a wide variety of disease, from substance abuse to physical disabilities and age-related illness.

With all Wanderlust’s healing and profound transformation concentrated in one location, we wonder if South Carolina’s Mark Sanford or other political figures might benefit. Could a combination of yoga and music help promote world peace?

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger tried ballet in the documentary Pumping Iron, but his favorite music is actually mariachi, so he may not find the festival to his liking.

Wanderlust spotlights a host of sustainable musical acts, headlined by Michael Franti and Spearhead, grooving alongside classes taught by popular yoga teachers John Friend, Shiva Rea and others. Other musical acts span the primitive post-modernism of guitarist Gillian Welch, feel-good sampling mash-ups from Girl Talk and the “sacred music” of Jai Uttal.

Sacramento has a long history of great music and now features several exceptional yoga studios: Deep Art and Yoga, Zuda Yoga Center, It’s All Yoga, Asha Yoga and The Yoga Solution are just a few. Wanderlust could be a great place to kick off a healthy new life of balanced living.