June 20, 2007

Times Square Yoga Fest

Tomorrow, June 21, legions of yogis and yoginis will descend (calmly and mindfully) on New York City to celebrate the summer solstice by participating in the Mind Over Madness Yoga fest.

From 7 AM until sunset, on the concrete island that sits in Times Square at the intersection of Broadway and 7th Avenue between 43rd and 44th streets, practioners of all levels will bend, balance and twist in an effort to transcend urban chaos and commercialism and find tranquility. Good luck with that, but it should be fun, for both Spandex-clad seekers and spectators. Mind Over Madness Yoga is being brought to you by the Times Square Alliance, the same folks that host the great New Year's Eve ball-drop.

I've seen yogis in the middle of cities before: Indian cities, like Delhi and Varanasi, where the teacher in the photo above used a life-sized wall painting of himself to advertise his sidewalk studio. For a few rupees, you could assume the lotus position and have the round gentleman guide you through an exercise in flexibility right there on the dusty street as sacred white cows trundled through the gutter beside you.

Back then I didn't know my asana from my pranayama, but I recently took up yoga in an effort to rid myself of the annoying sciatica that's been radiating down my left leg since my last marathon. A consistent regimen of yoga/pilates, gym machines that work the back, hips and glutes, and intermittent deep tissue massage (to quote my friend Liz, "Bring a leather belt to chew on...") has worked wonders, and I'm running relatively pain free again.

Good thing, because my number just came up in the New York City Marathon lottery. With luck, on November 4 I'll toe the start line on Staten Island and stumble, many hours later, over the finish line in Central Park.

To pull it off, I'll have to keep faithful to my yoga practice. Perhaps, to seal and celebrate my yoga-New York City connection, I should join some of the Mind Over Madness sessions. When it comes to marathon training, I'm mildly superstitious -- I'll tell you about my rituals sometime -- and doing yoga in Times Square might just keep my karma, dharma, chakra and all that jazz in healthy alignment until race day.

It can't hurt.