Of course anyone can find peace at the top of a mountain. But can you find it in Times Square? It is unquestionably the ultimate test of serenity to find inner peace in one of the busiest, if not the busiest, environment in the world. Yesterday evening, I found my zen among 10,000 other New Yorkers in the heart of New York’s holy epicenter of hustle and flow during the 10th annual Athleta Mind Over Madness to celebrate the summer solstice. Mother Nature provided the natural heat Bikram studio. I challenged myself to quiet my mind in Times Square (of all places!) and was able to focus on grace, quality of the poses, while zoning out all the tourists snapping pictures at us and pointing with strange looks on their face. The afternoon bikram session broke a world record today by being the largest Bikram yoga class in the world! (Bikram is a yoga practice that requires you to remain in a room heated to 105 degrees for 90 minutes. Today was the hottest day of the year so far, so it was fitting to celebrate the solstice with Bikram in the heart of the best city in the world!)
It was an extraordinary paradox – amidst animated billboards, lights, and honking cabs, thousands of yogis in deep backbends and twists created an aura of stillness. Typically I cannot stand Times Square, as the slow walking people crowding the streets test my patience a bit too much - especially during lunch break when I’m on a mission - so this yoga practice tested my grace and ability to just relax and let the chaos outside me melt away. If we can do this in Times Square, we can do this at work or in any stressful situations that faces us, instead of reacting with agitation and impatience, if we react with a deep sense of poise and calmness, whatever demons may be facing us don’t seem as wicked, and may not be demons after all. The awfulness (or level of ease!) of a situation is all us - we are observers. How we react makes all the difference. A challenging yoga pose really doesn’t have to be so difficult, and why should it be? Yoga teaches us to train our minds, and therefore through yoga we can accomplish things far beyond our wildest aspirations.
Athleta model and spokesperson Drisana Carey’s words of wisdom: “In Yoga, we are guided by our breath and our hearts and not by our egos.”
“The way they bend — we don’t do that in Oklahoma,” said tourist Ted Patrickson, 34, after a few minutes of watching. Read more