There is nothing like practicing yoga at Solstice in Times Square. Bodies are packed together, each person with his or her own brightly colored mat right on the street. Every race, religion, body type, and walk of life is represented. Spectators line the designated yoga area taking pictures with astonished looks on their faces. Tourists wave and cheer from passing tour buses. Horns are honking. Taxi drivers are yelling. Neon signs flash with light and movement. It is mayhem, yet the practice is calm — an island of stillness in an ocean of clamor and noise.
It is what yoga is all about.
One of the opening speakers explained it well. “It is easy to feel peaceful when things are quiet and distractions are few,” he said, “but if you can stay calm and still in the middle of chaos — you are truly practicing yoga!” The first step is finding this in the yoga room. From there you can take it into your day-to-day life.
This was my second Solstice in Times Square, a day-long yoga event to mark the summer solstice. It includes mass yoga classes in NYC’s Times Square taught by leading instructors in various yoga styles. You can read about my first experience here. This year, I attended the 1 pm Bikram Yoga class. While the temperature never reached Bikram Yoga standards, the sunny day helped me work up a sweat. The slight breeze felt great!
Several teachers led the class, each taking a 15-minute segment. I enjoyed the diversity of teaching styles. Some teachers encouraged us to cheer and wave to the passers-by, while others stressed focus. One emphasized proper physical form; another prioritized the inner journey. There was something for everyone.
Experienced yogis practiced up on the dais, while teachers walked through the crowd giving pointers and encouragement to the uninitiated. I ended up next to an elite group from a NYC studio, all dressed in white, so I was able to enjoy their beautiful postures out of the corner of my eye during the practice.
The photos from the event are always stunning. The unison of the postures, the calm faces and still bodies always inspire me. If yoga means union, there is no better personification of yoga than this event. I can’t wait for next year.
Readers, have you attended Solstice in Times Square?