How do you stay sane in the middle of a busy driven city life? The answer, according to the Times Square Alliance, is to show by the example of thousands of Yogis practicing Yoga to honor the arrival of summer. On Tuesday, June 21st, yoga enthusiasts celebrated the longest day of the year with an all day yoga fest. Attendees were challenged to find tranquility and transcendence in the midst of the world’s most commercial and frenetic place, Times Square.
This is the third time that I have attended this annual event and I must say that the first time I truly experience “transcendence” was participating in this event that truly challenges your senses. Transcendence is a trance-like condition or state of being that surpasses physical existence and in one form is also independent of it. It is typically manifested in prayer or meditation.
I arrived 20 minutes early to participate in the 7:00am session only to realize that thousands of others had arrived before me and I was actually late (missing out on the free yoga mat and goodie bags). Thank goodness I brought my own specialized Maji Yoga mat to be ready for Yoga in the street.
I find my place on the street and join the Yoga sequences that have begun. Soon we are flowing to Alicia Keysʼ tribute to New York followed by Florence and the Machine and then I lose touch with the soundtrack. We are bending, lunging and posing our way through a few rounds of sun salutations to welcome the first day of summer, a tribe of urban warriors gathered together in a show of peace.
We are honoring Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year. Solstice from the Latin words meaning sun and still, celebrated worldwide with fertility rituals, bonfires and offerings to the Gods that stretch until dawn. Where better than Times Square to begin a high-tech Divine all-nighter complete with music, costumes and dancing?
We balance movement with stillness, practicing the classic yoga Tree pose. We are a forest swaying slightly in the early morning breeze. We root into what this place once was, this lush island, still teeming with life. We bend backwards, offering our thousand human hearts to the sliver of sky beyond the towers.
Finally, we roll ourselves out fully on our backs. Savasana. We breathe and we rest our bodies from the practice and we align with something beyond this city and this time. (Some of us make a list of all the things we have to do today but we try hard not to do this.)
We have created a space so safe that a thousand yogis can lie down in Times Square.
We give thanks for the Solstice, this gift of light, and we honor the light within each of us, Namaste (the spirit in me, honors the spirit in you).
Check out the video highlights of the day with the Yoga Flava TV video snack:
Join Robin Downes Yoga Flava in Los Angeles to “Restore By The Shore”