Philly's first Wanderlust Festival highlights city's yoga boom

Meet three local yogis whose unique practices will be showcased this weekend.

By Jazmyn D. Burton
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 7 | Posted Sep. 4, 2013

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“When I started, I didn’t see any other Asian people in my classes, but that’s changing,” he said. “You can get stuck in thinking that yoga is just for upper middle class white people, but that’s not true. There are people of all cultures, all over the globe, practicing yoga. And even more out there who are curious.”

Park watched the yoga scene blossom and take shape while practicing in Philadelphia in the late ‘90s. He says the move to a more cohesive community is due largely in part to the work of Diana D’Amato-Vitarelli, owner of Dhayna Yoga. He recalls when D’Amato-Vitarelli would stand on the corner of Broad and Walnut streets, a few blocks from her studio, passing out flyers, encouraging people to trade their daily hoagie for some daily yoga.

“When people ask me about Philly and yoga, I always say it’s a small but dedicated crowd,” says Park. “There have been times when the growth here seems slow, but that goes along with the character and personality of Philly. Philadelphians aren’t ones to jump on the bandwagon, but once they do, once they realize the value [of something], they’re dedicated to it, with passion. They practice hard. Yoga is embedded here.”

The Wanderlust Yoga Block Party is Sat., Sept. 7 at the Piazza at Schmidt’s, 1050 No. Hancock St., from noon to 8pm. Free, but online registration is suggested. For more information, visit phi.wanderlustfestival.com.

Considering a Wanderlust session with one of these instructors? Here's what you'll get:

MARIEL FREEMAN
Years practicing:
13. Years teaching: 10. What to expect: Freeman will lead the first 90-minute sequence of the festival alongside her close friend Alexandra Holmes and mentor Sue Elkind. Freeman’s playful style of instruction and focus on body alignment makes for an uplifting class that will both challenge your body and nourish your soul. Her lighthearted nature is sure to balance well with Elkind’s masterful philosophy and Holmes’ graceful sequencing.

ALEXANDRA HOLMES
Years practicing:
11. Years teaching: 10. What to expect: A class with Holmes will definitely work up a sweat. Known for her quick pace and fluid, dance-like sequencing, expect to stretch and bend in a very rhythmic manner. Don’t let her decade of experience in the yoga game intimidate you. She may throw in a few backbends, but her classes are suitable for both newbies and old pros. Holmes will teach alongside Freeman and Elkind.

SIMON PARK
Years practicing: 18. Years teaching: 15. What to expect: Park will teach the final yoga session of the festival. Expect a high-energy class that mixes elements of martial arts-inspired fluidity with postures that challenge your arms and abs. Catch him if you can; it may be a while before he returns to the city. Following Wanderlust, Park is headed to Europe, where he’ll lead classes in Paris and Crete, Greece before heading out on a Yogascapes cruise down the Turkish coast.

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COMMENTS

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1. Charlene said... on Sep 4, 2013 at 12:25PM

“Wonderful article, beautifully written. Makes me want to take a class for the first time.”

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2. Adrianne said... on Sep 4, 2013 at 08:49PM

“Great article! I didn't know much about yogo, but your article makes me want to look into available classes in my area. It sounds like a great way to release tension and frustration.”

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3. Alakee said... on Sep 5, 2013 at 07:07AM

“Great article so informative about Philly yoga and yoga as an art... I wanna go to the block party!”

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4. Jenny said... on Sep 6, 2013 at 07:28AM

“Alex Holmes is my favorite teacher in Philly. I can't say enough about her.. She incorporates joy and laughter into the toughest poses and just when u think u can't take anymore she somehow makes you laugh and she shows that yoga can and should be fun and playful. She pushes you appropriately and safely where a lot of other teachers might be scared to. Love her”

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5. Ann said... on Sep 7, 2013 at 12:54AM

“Brilliantly written. Had a light bulb moment while reading. Yoga is a way for me to purify my soul while strengthening my body. Thanks for the personal walks through lives positively guided by Yoga. Article reads like a good novel.”

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6. aleerose said... on Sep 11, 2013 at 08:59AM

“After reading about Wanderlust, and being a practicing yoga student, I decided to head over to the Piazza and check out this yoga block party. I walked in amidst a Down Dog and have never seen so many yoga-pantsed bodies in formation harmony. I joined right in. The sun beat down as we transitioned into Tree pose, and with our extended branches, reached and held on to our neighbors. The voice on the stage then instructed us to keep our support and lean forward for Warrior III. During those moments, there was a sense of community, of sweating palms meeting each other, all struggling to sustain poise in the heat. As I felt the body next to me tremble, I steadied my arm for her support; and when I began to shake, she did the same for me, as did my other neighbor. Slowly, we came out of the pose; a balanced city.”

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7. renclemente said... on Dec 9, 2013 at 06:26AM

“thanks for this very informative article. I got more information about yoga. love it!!
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