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One of the many great things about summer is all the free outdoor yoga classes (yes, mine included…). I’ve done yoga in Times SquareProspect ParkConey Island, and today after work I walked two blocks and took a great yoga class in Bryant Park.  Its good to take your practice outside, experience the interesting mix of peace and distractions, and try out different teachers.

But this post isn’t about yoga, well not completely. This post is about something the teacher said in the class in the park. She was trying to get the 200 or so people in the park to do this pose:

Yeah, that’s right. It wasn’t happening. I’ve been doing yoga for 7 years, and this was nowhere near happening. And I wasn’t alone, there was probably 2 out of the 200+ people this was happening for (and even for those 2, it lasted for about 10 seconds).  I have always thought of these as  ”show off” poses, and I’ve been fine with the idea that I’ll never reach them, I’ll give it a shot, but it’s not for me. And maybe I’m right, but maybe not. Who knows.

Like I said the yoga pose isn’t the point. It’s what she said when we were all looking at her like she was crazy.

“Another word for miracle is repetition.” 

Something might look crazy, something might seem impossible, but sometimes if you keep plugging away at chaturangas, or writing, or running, or sewing, or holding your breath underwater, or baking, and one day you are in that crazy arm balance, or have finished a novel, or ran a marathon, or made a skirt, or are swimming laps, or made a cake.

Sure it’s a cliche, Rome wasn’t built in a day, if at first you don’t succeed try try again, but cliches are there for a reason. And so what if it’s cheesy, some days it might not work, but some days a thought like this may be just the reminder you need.

I read this blog post the other day about committing 15 minutes a day to writing, she makes a lot of good points in it, one being that “Repetition builds momentum.” Its hard to find a large block of time to write, so you don’t do it and then weeks or months go by with no progress, but a few minutes a day, and you have a chapter in a few weeks.

Practice might not make perfect–your novel might never get published, you might fall out of the handstand after 10 seconds, you might finish the marathon dead last but you are lapping all the people on the couch who never even get started

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Here’s a fun experiment. Pick something, it could be anything. Say it’s babies that look like Winston Churchill. And you’ll start seeing that thing everywhere and you’ll think to yourself–”Wow there sure are a lot of babies that look like Winston Churchill in my general municipality…” But they have always been there and you just haven’t noticed.

After renting a Mini Cooper on our honeymoon, I am now noticing Mini Coopers nearly every other block in our neighborhood. I don’t think more residents of Park Slope have all decided to buy awesome cars in the last 3 weeks, it’s just that I’m more aware of them now.

So, maybe it’s just a product of being a yoga teacher, but I think I spy a new fitness trend in our midst. Combining yoga to other activities.

I submit the following as evidence:

1) Yoga and Cycling: There are numerous options for this  indoor (spinning classes that combine 30 mins of cardio and 30 mins of asana hereherehere, and probably a bunch of other places).  And outdoor bicycling trips that stop for yoga breaks (you can even do it all over the world! or here )

2) Yoga and Hiking or Running: Notorious purveyors of Ayn Rand philosophy and overpriced yoga clothes Lululemon Athletica have a yoga and running club (plus there’s several others). Yoga and hiking trips are exploding all over the place, there’s even one in my beloved Prospect Park.

3) Yoga and Kickboxing: Sounds like someone was inspired by Billy Blanks! This place offers yoga and kickboxing, or um…”Koga”

4) Yoga and Laughing: This has been around for awhile, and is equal parts heartwarming and cheesy, but I think it could be fun but I think I’d have to close my eyes to not feel silly.

5) Yoga and Karaoke: This is the newest yoga trend (in a world where “trends” are less then 100 people doing something). “I’m on a mission to spread joy and have people feel good,” says the teacher Jennifer Pastiloff–in her Karaoke yoga classes students sing and dance while they do yoga. I have nothing snarky to say about this because it sounds like something I would really enjoy.

 

6) Yoga and Drinking: Okay so I don’t think anyone is suggesting drinking while doing yoga, but there’s a new yoga studio/bar that’s opening in Brooklyn–it’s a yoga studio by day and a bar by night. And some yoga studios offer special wine tasting and yoga events.

I’m sure there’s a lot more things yoga is being combined with, archery? bowling? scrapbooking? Any ideas for the next yoga-combo trend?

Yesterday was the first day of Summer, and the hottest day of the year so far. To celebrate, there was a (free!) massive (and massively sponsored) yoga event  in Times Square–what started with 3 people a few years ago grew into 14,000 participants this year. It was a unique yoga experience to be sure.

I took the 3:30pm class, and when I arrived at 42nd street and Broadway (aka Hell on Earth to any New Yorker) the line for registered ticket holders winded around the block while a yoga clothes fashion show took place on the stage and blasted from the dozens of speakers. After a short wait, I was given a free yoga mat (!) and a bag of goodies from the sponsors (hummus, water, magazines, yogurt, etc)  and then ushered by the NYPD to a spot of pavement smack dab in the center of it all (and unfortunately right next to a heat blowing vent for one of those flashy electronic signs).

There were peppered amongst the thousands, some hardcore yogis (there was even a couple showing off some acroyoga when the class ended), but at least around me, it seemed a lot of first timers or at least people who don’t practice regularly. Which is pretty awesome, if I was new to yoga I don’t think I’m choose a 95 degree day in Times Square with thousands  of other people to try it out. And while thousands preregistered, there was also a sizable line of people (some dressed for yoga, some in business or street clothes!) that just walked up and decided to do some yoga in the middle of the hottest and longest day of the year.

The event was called “Mind Over Madness” with the tag line: “ Anyone can find tranquility on top of a mountain.
Can you find it in the middle of Times Square?”  And yes, it was more distracting than a quiet zen studio class, but I’m kind of used to classes with noise coming in from the hallway or weight rooms, or  from the street below, or practicing in the park with lots of noises, or in my living room with the cats going crazy and the birds chirping. And there was nary a moment of silence in the room when I taught a bunch of 5 year olds yoga.  Yoga is a practice of drawing your senses inward and noticing but not attaching to the distractions and thoughts vying for your attention.

More distracting than the noise of Times Square was the spectators–dozens of people lined the barriers and just watched and took pictures and a giant screen projected the class and the instructor. I was towards the center but off to the side, so my mug never made it up on the big screen, but I’m sure I’m sweating  in a lot of strangers’ photos.

It was a unique and fun yoga experience, and even if you’re not into yoga at all it’s kind of a once in a life time experience to lie in the middle of the road in Times Square and stare up at the clouds in the blue sky past the buildings.