Yoga in the Great Rain

June 23, 2010


Last night I went with my friend Amanda to be a part of Yoga on the Great Lawn in Central Park. The goal was 10,000 people, and though I’m not quite sure we reached that – we were still told that we acheived the world record for the largest registered Yoga class to ever take place. Except it didn’t really take place.

We spent 2 hours building our excitement – from waiting on line to getting settled into shockingly organized rows of our new,free mats to having the chance to do some serious people watching. What a diverse group of New Yorkers all in one place. As our anticipation grew, there was no denying that we were in the perfect spot to celebrate the start of summer.

But just as the class was about to get underway, the clouds rolled in and the rain began. Sure some left right away, but most just took out umbrellas (luckily I toted a poncho as well) and got ready to OM the night away. But because it’s (understandably) a safety risk (and apparently illegal) to conduct class in the rain, the instructor could only take us through a few plank poses, a downward dog or two, some long, grateful stretches to the sky, and a namaste before they had to send us home. Total bummer.

So you might wonder why I’d bother writing about an event that never came to pass. Well the truth is, it did. If you look beyond the marketing aspect to our free goodies, beyond the sounds of the news helicopters above threatening to take away our zen, and beyond the rain – what you found was a peaceful and accepting New York that I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed before.

No one was angry or shouting about the weather, or the decision to cancel the class. Everyone made their exits gracefully with smiles, no pushing ahead or signs of aggravation about the slow crawl towards 5th Avenue. Some even stayed behind, reveling in the opportunity to continue their own Yoga practice alone or with friends.

My favorite moment was hearing a long, echoing “OM” as we approached a tunnel, which of course we promptly joined in chanting as soon as we entered – connecting us to all of the people with us in that moment, as well as all of those who had passed through before and who still had yet to encounter it.

The serenity of our group became more apparent as we spilled out onto the streets of the Upper East Side. The light summer rain became a downpour, but we persevered in much the same manner towards the subways – in great contrast to the observers on the street who were far less pleased by the shift in the weather. And who couldn’t seem to fathom what would be making us all so happy.

Yes Yoga on the Great Lawn was supposed to be the biggest Yoga class ever. But it turns out it wasn’t really about that in the end. It was about connection, the true core of any Yoga practice. Last night I felt immensely connected to an immensely large group of strangers. AND I got to reconnect with my friend Amanda, whom I haven’t seen in quite some time.

This feeling continued with me into the morning, as I decided to skip checking email and opted instead for a long walk through Prospect Park. I smiled at everyone I passed, soaked in the beautiful sun, laughed at the relationships being forged from dog to dog and owner to owner, and didn’t mind slowing down a bit behind those on the sidewalk as I turned for home who were too focused on their smart phones to notice me.

I realized that this is ultimately what Yoga has given me. A chance to slow down. To connect. To find peace in this city that never sleeps.

One of my clients has been practicing Yoga on a regular basis since the start of his program. Each time we talk he tells me what an incredible impact it’s having on his stress levels, and especially on his ability to cope with the pressures of his work day. It’s been a pleasure to be his cheerleader as he builds his routine into his lifestyle.

Last night made me wonder what would happen to NYC, or even the world, if we all practiced just a little bit more Yoga.

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2 Responses to “Yoga in the Great Rain”

  1. Liz Says:

    What a great event! Do you know of anything like this in the Boston area?

  2. Patti McCabe Says:

    Hi Liz,

    I’m not sure unfortunately. Here is the link to the organization which sponsored this one: http://flavorpill.com/win/yoga?publication=newyork

    They do seem to host events in other cities, but it doesn’t look like Boston is on the list – at least not yet.

    Thanks for commenting! 🙂


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