Practicing yoga outside, under the sun and skyscrapers of New York City's Times Square on the morning of the summer solstice is one of the best ways to start a new season. It’s a perfect time to practice “Mind Over Madness” — connecting with your inner self while police sirens and truck horns blare overhead and passersby take pictures of you while you’re in downward dog is quite a challenge, but it’s possible!
For the 11th year in a row, the Times Square Alliance and Athleta hosted a full free day of yoga classes and yoga village in the heart of Times Square. More than 16,000 people pre-registered for the event. HellaWella participated in the first session of the day, which featured a special pre-class meditation by 94-year-old master yogi Tao Porchon-Lynch, founder of the Westchester Institute of Yoga.
Porchon-Lynch kicked the day off with a positive message of peace and explained the power of a smile:
“When you wake up in the morning, know that this is going to be the best day of your life,” she said. “The song of the soul is the breath of eternal life. … Whatever problems face you, don't procrastinate. Know that the answer will be a better solution than you could ever expect. This I believe not just in words but in my actions when facing a new door.”
The famous yogi — who has been practicing since the age of 8 and just recently released a new instructional yoga DVD with celeb instructor Tara Stiles — continued: “Our smile lightens our body with health,” she said. “Fear is a poison that can affect whole human populations. So smile as you rise with the sun, smile at the beauty of the life within you and then the whole planet will smile with you.”
Veteran instructor and Athleta model athlete Drisana Carey — you’ll recognize her posing in the Athleta catalog — led the class through a refreshing yoga practice that loosened up those heading to work and left them with peaceful smiles on their faces.
Various instructors from around New York City — such as Colleen Saidman, the “First Lady of Yoga,” and her famous yogi husband Rodney Yee — led the classes throughout the day. Douglass Stewart, co-founder of Solstice in Times Square, closed the event in the evening.
"We are not separate from anything,” Stewart said to the first class of the day. “We are all connected. We are all one. And yoga is the practice to support that.”