Do you ever have those moments in life where you pause and think, “How do I get myself into these things?” I wondered that last night, as I was doing a downward facing dog in the middle of 45th and Broadway as some creepy tourist dude leaned over the barricade to film an iPhone video that I’m pretty sure was of my butt.
Every year, the Times Square Alliance holds an entire day of free yoga classes in Times Square to celebrate the summer solstice, i.e. the longest day of the year. They actually block off the streets and traffic, and you do yoga right there on your mat in the middle of the street, surrounded by all the lights and billboards and tourists trying to find the M&M store. AWESOME! I totally went.
I chose to go to the 6:00 p.m. class, because there was no way in hell I was going to get myself to Times Square before work. Since the first 1,000 people got free yoga mats, I figured as long as I got there by 5:30, I’d definitely get one and be able to avoid bringing my mat to work with me, right? FALSE.
It turns out they ran out of free yoga mats about 50 people before me. UGH! I was totally effed, and I was thinking about peace-ing out rather than have to do yoga on the BARE PAVEMENT of Times Square and probably contracting foot herpes. But, I decided to stick it out anyway and see if maybe anyone had a spare mat or something.
Because I was late, I missed out on getting a spot in the awesome center space, and had to go in one of those medians on the side of Broadway, next to the Foot Locker. I know.
(Waiting for class to start)
Everyone had their own mats, so I was like, UGH, what do I do. Then this nice guy named Ravi next to me offered to share with me. He had brought a bedsheet just in case this sort of thing happened. Smart move, Ravi! We laid out his bedsheet on the grimy pavement of Broadway. I asked him where he practiced. He is actually Hindu and practices with his spiritual community. I have never felt more like a poser white girl.
Recognize that? Yep, I was in the street below 1515 Broadway, aka the MTV studios.
My stuff was dangerously close to speeding taxis, and definitely getting all kinds of NYC street germs on it as I was taking this picture. That gray tote bag was free from the event!
View from my place on the ground.
Me chilling on the bedsheet with my free towel and like $8 bottle of fancy water (also free). I think I have a weird foot tan from my flip flops.
At this point, Ravi noticed I was taking random pictures of everything and offered to take one of me. I figured since I was already sponging off his bedsheet, why not?
The class started, and we couldn’t see the instructor because we were in the plebeian median (Plebe Mede?), but everything was piped over the loudspeaker. We started doing our moves, and suddenly I realized how weird you look when you’re bending over in the middle of Times Square with like 2,000 other people.
Tourists were hanging over the barricades watching us. Taxi drivers yelled, “Looking good, ladies!” out their windows. People were filming us, probably thinking, “wow, they must do this every day in New York!”
Child’s pose in the middle of class, breaking my zen to take pics.
People behind me, some of them on the pavement like me.
If you ever do yoga, you know at the end of class you do savasana, or corpse pose, where you basically just lie on your back. It was so stupefying to be doing this, lying and looking up at the sky in the middle of Times Square.
All in all, it was an incredible experience to be doing yoga in the middle of one of the most famous and most bustling places on earth. The teacher is saying, “Breathe! Focus!” and you’re trying to center yourself while cars are honking and sirens are wailing mere feet from you.
When you live in New York, you sometimes forget that you actually live in New York, and lying on your back in the street in Times Square, feeling every inch of pavement supporting your body, was a fascinating way to reconnect with that.