Yoga: Mass Appeal.
Stillness in Times Square…for Six Hundred?
The growing appeal of Yoga is hardly front-page news, anymore.
In fact, you’d actually have to be living under a rock to not be aware of Yoga’s infiltration into our mainstream, modern culture. From Wal-Mart to Starbucks, Microsoft to McDonalds, Alternative Apparel to Pepsi, and all points in between, it is impossible to go anywhere these days without being smacked in the face with a yoga mat.
Sure, there is the dark side of the commercialization of Yoga that we bloggers love to harp on—but more importantly there is so much positive inspiration that results from Yoga’s mass appeal.
We at YOGANONYMOUS are fortunate enough to be involved in several massive yoga events this summer. The first two Yoga events of massive proportions went down last week here in NYC. Last Monday, “Mind over Madness Solstice” went down in Times Square with over 600 smiling Yogis and Yoginis in attendance. “Mind over Madness Times Square” included classes throughout the day taught by some of the city’s best teachers including Alanna Kaivalya, Michael Taylor, and Swami Ramananda—all happening in what is quite possibly the most commercial, chaotic, visually stimulating place on earth—Times Square. Despite being a notoriously hectic location, the sense of gratitude, abundance and absolute peace that filled the hollow spaces between the office buildings and flashing billboards was enough to bring us all close to tears.
The most moving thing, however, was that as I walked around and looked at people’s faces, they were completely peaceful—no one was stressed about being in the middle of Times Square, no one was rushing to their afternoon appointment, and no one was getting upset because they couldn’t do the pose as well as the next guy. What transpired in Times Square was Yoga in its truest form—a massive joining together of 600 people right in the middle of the busiest city on earth.
But that was just an appetizer.
Last Tuesday’s “Yoga at the Great Lawn” (Y@GL) apparently broke the world record for the largest Yoga class of all time, with over 10,000 practitioners coming out to be a part of the action. As if there was still some doubt about Yoga’s “mass appeal,” Flavorpill, JetBlue, Smartwater, and all of the other folks involved with Y@GL set the record straight by bringing 10,000 people out to practice Yoga in central park. Now picture this, gates open at 5:45pm and 10,000 people start rolling in and getting set up. We were all treated to several opening musical acts and artistic performances that set the stage for perhaps the most hyped up Yoga class that the country has ever seen. Two hours later the final performance ends, and our beautiful teacher Elena Brower takes the stage with Dharma Mittra and a handful of beautiful other teachers by her side. Finally it is time to get going – 10,000 people in the middle of New York City dressed in their Yoga outfits, roll out their Yoga mats and breathe into their first Down Dog…and then all of a sudden—bang—torrential downpour and the event is quickly canceled with promises of a “rain date to be announced soon.” Now in the New York City that I know and love, a happening like this results in utter chaos and insanity—riots, protests, etc. But no, not this time, not in the age of Yoga’s mass appeal! People welcomed the rain—dancing, working through their sun salutations, playing with one another amidst the storm! Even the vibe on the subway home was not one of anger, or of dissatisfaction over what could have been, but rather one of success as people celebrated being a part of the largest Yoga gathering of all time. Everyone was proud to just have been there, to be one of the many who made a difference out there on the lawn during that rainy evening. Steadying the ship, Elena Brower remained resilient and enthusiastic as she led us through an opening namaskar despite the looming downpour. It was her luminous inspiration that left everyone with a soaking wet smile on their face as they exited the event. Yoga teaches us to locate and harness a sense of inner calm, a lens in which we choose to view the world, even amidst the most unexpected and massive storms. Yoga is much more than Asana, and although the 10,000 strong did not get to practice much Asana on the great lawn last Tuesday, they were a shining example of the practice of Yoga in its truest form. Finding union and peace within. Being a part of something larger then ourselves. Remaining positive and being grateful for the gift of each breath.
There are a ton of other massive Yoga happenings going down this summer across the country, but perhaps most exciting is this year’s Wanderlust Festival. Billed as a “one-of-a-kind Yoga retreat & music festival in a setting of great natural beauty,” Wanderlust is certainly taking Yoga’s mass appeal to the next level. Offering some of the world’s best Yoga teachers such as Shiva Rea, Seane Corn and Baron Baptiste mixed in with a handful of music’s top performing artists, Wanderlust is sure to be a massive Yoga gathering of epic proportions that it would be a shame to miss (talking to you, elephant).
We are blessed to be living in an age of Yoga’s mass appeal. As Yoga penetrates deeper into our main-stream society so many amazing events and gatherings keep sprouting up. Sure, it is okay to chuckle at the ridiculously out-of-alignment silhouette of a skinny woman doing tree-pose on a billboard for a low calorie beer, but it is more important that we stop and take time to enjoy the benefits of Yoga’s mass appeal. And with that being said, we will see you at Wanderlust!
Drawing from a vast amount of teachings and life experiences, Dan Wilf aims to present the ancient teachings of Yoga with a fun, accessible, modern day approach so that all may enjoy. Dan first stepped onto the mat as a way to deal with the stresses of working in the music industry; instantly hooked, Dan has not looked back since! He has traveled around the world following the global pulse of Yoga, from studying meditation in the Tibetan Himalayas to surfing the shores of Costa Rica. Dan believes that the Yoga is everywhere, baby! In addition to teaching Yoga, Dan is also the founder and director of YOGANONYMOUS, the go-to resource for the modern day Yoga practitioner. Whether you teach yoga, have a personal practice at home, or just appreciate a good Asana-kicking once in a while at your favorite local studio, YOGANONYMOUS has got your back.