Look very closely at the photo to the left. You see that tiny smudge of blue shirt and black pants to the right. That's me doing yoga in the middle of Times Square. We're in tree pose, one of the most popular balance poses in yoga, attempting to root into the Earth and grab a hold of its energy.
Yesterday was the summer solstice, and in celebration of the event, the Times Square Alliance hosted a festival called Solstice in Times Square: Mind Over Madness Yoga. (For information on the Times Square Alliance, please click here: http://www.timessquarenyc.org/.) All through the day there were classes offered by top yoga teachers from across the city to anyone at any level.
I must admit that I was pretty light-headed when I finished the hour-long intermediate session. We did some serious back bends in celebration of the day and there was an energy opened up in me that I have not felt in a long time. To be sure, the exhaust from cars and the noise of TS were a little difficult to overcome.
I was interviewed by a reporter for a Japanese TV show and she asked how I could possibly concentrate in this environment and find peace here in all the chaos. In actuality, this practice was much more personal. I try hard in classes to never look around at anyone else and focus only on my body and my abilities. In this class, I couldn't possibly spend a moment of time comparing myself to anyone else. I was too consumed with trying concentrating in an environment that provides complete sensory overload. I was able to look into myself in a way that I sometimes cannot if I am in a class in a serene yoga studio.
When we need to create serenity, it becomes much more powerful than having it handed to us. When we create peace, it becomes much more lasting than if someone else builds peace for us. We are vested in the process; we, our states-of-mind, are the outcome. This class helped me realize how far I've come in creating peace for myself; it taught me that I can build a grounded, serene life even if the life that's happening around me is a whirl of noise. And when I left the class and made my way to the subway, I felt that the world around me was a little more peaceful, that somehow our practice for that hour had rubbed off on the place, rather than the place rubbing off on us.