Summer Solstice Yoga Takes Over Times Square
Is it possible to achieve inner tranquility in the middle of America’s most frenetic intersection? That’s what 14,000 yoga enthusiasts, including me and my two daughters, set out to discover when we arrive this morning in Times Square, where a full day of free yoga classes is being offered in celebration of the summer solstice.
While the front of the outdoor “classroom” is on 42nd Street, we’re near the back at 47th Street. Thousands of yoga mats take up whole city blocks, and five or six cross streets loaded with people make it impossible to see our instructor, Drisana Cary. Luckily we can hear Drisana’s voice over a loudspeaker and we can sometimes see her image on a big screen that alternates between shots of the instructor and shots of the massive crowd.
And boy is it hot! By 8 AM the temperature is in the 80s, and the mercury will be spiking through the mid-90s when the noon yoga class starts. The Square’s huge flashing signs seem almost liquefied by the rippling fumes rising from auto tailpipes.
Through the triangle created by my legs while in downward dog, I can see upside down bus wheels, inverted yellow cab fenders, and the feet of people walking purposefully to work. Drisana instructs us to wave to the sky as we move into revolved triangle pose. As we sweep through Warrior I, II, and III poses, we wave to the working warriors paused to watch us (and snap pictures of us with their camera phones). We hit lunges and wag our feet at the myrmidons behind us. (We’re packed into Times Square like sardines, so Drisana suggests that we avoid sweeping our feet beneath other people’s noses.)
My daughters, Sarah and Perrin, twist their bodies like spaghetti. My body twists like spaghetti before it’s cooked: It creaks and threatens to break in half. Drisana tells us that the summer solstice is a day to set a goal for summer. I decide to try and build my “Resistance to Cookies” muscle.
Finally, Drisana instructs us to lie on our backs and pull our spines flat against the asphalt. This brings yet another new view of Times Square: A blue sky, ringed by the lofty snow-capped peaks of office buildings. We take five deep breaths, then five more. Everyone is so silent that I almost fall asleep. Tranquility achieved—for a full five minutes!
—Anne Bailey blogs for Fitbie and is on a journey to lose 100 pounds
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