This morning I went to an Athleta yoga event timed with the solstice called “Mind Over Madness.” I think I’d tried to go last year, but had an early-morning meeting and couldn’t make it, but was lucky enough to sign up for a free ticket and go to the first of 4 classes being held today in Times Square.
And by in Times Square, I mean, really in Times Square. We were on a closed-off stretch of Broadway and over my right shoulder a medley of music from “Evita” blared from the front of the theatre where that musical is playing. (I like and I’m familiar with “Evita,” so this was only a little hilarious.) I’ve lived in New York for over 5 years, and this is the earliest I have been in Times Square, ever. It was so… peaceful. (All the tourists snug in their beds… All the hawkers still a-snooze…)
It was a perfect morning to be outside, not too warm or humid, and the sky was blue. I wasn’t close enough to see the teacher but followed along on a giant screen above the square through a series of sun salutations and lunges. It was an easy, all-levels practice led by a teacher from California called Drisana Carey who talked a lot about manifesting a “ball of energy” in front of us and distributing our weight throughout our mats.
Was it distracting to have cars going past, Broadway music, the wafting smell of pot and a ton of people to look at? Yes, but I think I enjoyed it and was able to focus better than the class I went to on Sunday in a dark, quiet studio with 6 other people. Something about being in the fresh air and seeing the sky, and being among so many other people, makes you feel a little less silly about where you’re placing your limbs. I can roll out of bed and go to a regular class any time, but I had to make an effort to get up early enough to go here, so it had a point.
I went to class early because the first people to arrive would get a free Athleta yoga mat, which I needed because I wasn’t about to put my own mat down on Broadway. This brings me to perhaps the only downside to this event: Being that close to the street is kind of gross, and the mats they gave us were so thin (less than 1/8”, I’m guessing) as to be almost useless. When dropping my knees I ended up kneeling on my shirt, but I wished for one of those foam rectangles that old people garden with. Hypothetically if you have ever mistook your balance and fallen a bit during yoga, this might cross the line from just germy and painful to dangerous. Not that I know anyone like that. Nope.
If there was a way to build a platform and put us all on it, just to be a few inches off the pigeon feathers and cigarette butts… For the awesomeness, I chose not to dwell on it, but I’d make that suggestion for next year.
There was a “solstice festival” with free samples and vendors after class, but I had to rush off to shower the sunscreen off my Casper-colored body and go to work, where my Zen was quickly eroded by heavens only knows what. I’ve got to do more yoga outside (well, and more, generally) this summer, if it’s going to be like this.