I participated in the 6 pm “mind over madness” yoga class in the middle of Times Square on the summer solstice. It was quite amazing.
We were on the island where (ironically) the Armed Forces recruiting station is located. Tourists gawked at us as they passed by, rolling their eyes or looking incredulously on at the crowd. More than a few asked, “Is this just one of those ‘only in New York’ things?” Traffic whizzed by our mini oasis – the only thing separating us from the cars and buses was the temporary metal barriers set up around the perimeter of the island.
I got there a little late, feeling stressed because it took a while for my train to show up. It’s funny how so many people feel so stressed and rushed just trying to get to yoga classes, a place they go to release said stress. And how easy would it be for me to let go of my thoughts of the past and worries for the future practicing on a traffic island?
I set up my mat and got ready for class. A neighbor shot this photo for me. The woman next to me came from all the way from Vermont for the weekend and made sure she got here on time for the class. Her name is Kristi – here we are together before class:
We started class with a chant and short meditation, and I felt the tension start to melt away. The class was pretty slow, but it was perfect for what I needed after a long day of work. I let go of my expectations and focused on my breath.
It started raining and some yogis quickly gathered their things and left. I stayed with the practice, breathing through it. I realized the impermanence of the rain, and felt it tapping me the way my thoughts invade my still mind. I let them wash down over me, concentrating on my breath and moving mindfully into each asana. I felt my mind get more still, my breath steadied, and my heart opened. And just as quickly as the rain came, it left. The clouds broke and sun filtered back into the square.
As we ended the class in savasana, I felt a deep sense of calm and peace flowing over and through me. I gazed lightly at the sky and watched some fluffy white clouds scatter across the fresh blueness. The traffic roared past just feet away, but I barely noticed.