Zen in the City

I saluted the sun as it bade farewell to the longest day of the year in the busiest intersection in the world – Times Square. In its 11th year, Times Square Alliance hosted Solstice in Times Square: Athleta Mind Over Madness Yoga. Close to 10,000 yogis attended the all day event. There were 4 free ninety-minute classes from sunrise to sunset.

I pre-registered for the last session of the day and got there with barely enough time to check in after a long day at work. The first 1,500 people received free yoga mats and they already ran out when I arrived. Good thing I brought my own yoga mat with me. The others who didn’t have yoga mats resorted to using collapsed cardboard boxes.

As I rolled out my mat on one of the last few remaining spaces of a cordoned off Broadway between 44th and 47th Avenues, I questioned if I will be able to achieve tranquility in the world’s most frenetic spot. When I sat down however, as I waited for the series of poses to start, I was determined that this would be my chance to commune with fellow New Yorkers.

The movements were designed for all levels. Some poses were tough, but the mental challenge was even tougher. Amidst flashing neon lights, honking cab drivers, rumbling subway trains and gawking curious tourists, my fellow yogis and I tried to find our zen in the middle of chaos.

I found it hard to focus while being photographed by just anyone passing by. Inhaling exhaust fumes made it difficult to breathe deeply. But when day turned to night, when I saw the New Year’s eve ball behind me as I did a seated spinal twist, and when the twinkling lights became more pronounced as I laid down in the final savasana pose, I ended up calm and serene. I truly became one with the sights, sounds and smells of Times Square.

faith-eviaWritten by Faith Azul-Evia. Faith  is an avid flashpacker (a slightly older version of a backpacker with a bigger budget but still wants to avoid a packaged version of a destination) and believes that her travels start as soon as she leaves her NY apartment building. She is in constant search of new places to explore, eat, drink, sleep, spa, run, hike and yoga. She has been to 38 countries in 6 continents and dreams of going to Antarctica someday. Follow her @faithflashpacks on Instagram.

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