June 28, 2012
Hot Fun in the City
I celebrated the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, with 14,000 people. The Times Square Alliance advertised “mind over madness yoga: anyone can find tranquility on top of a mountain; can you find it in the middle of Times Square?” Yoga classes were offered from 7 am till 7 pm outdoors in the epicenter of our hectic city. Intrigued, I registered for a free class. Certified yoga instructors were requested as volunteer “spotters” and would receive a free new yoga outfit to wear and keep. “Free” is a hook that attracts me, so I joined up for that, too.
I chose Bikram, hot yoga normally practiced in a room heated to 105 degrees. I’d never wanted to try this type of yoga since the idea of exercising in an enclosed room filled with sweaty people makes me nauseous. But I thought how bad can it be if it’s done outdoors, which can’t be heated up to the required temperature. It was funny that nature acquiesced and provided a 100 degree day with barely a breeze. Actually participating in the class under the beating sunshine was not going to be so amusing.
Waiting on the Woodmere platform for the train to the city had all us prospective passengers dripping in sweat while standing still. I rode in with the Wednesday matinee theatergoers, who were enduring the stifling heat but looking forward to a cool dark theater. I speed walked up Broadway to my check-in point to pick up a free yoga mat for the noontime class. When I arrived they had run out, but handed me a body length piece of cardboard and a cold water bottle.
I found one of the last shady spots in the pedestrian areas designated for the happening. Waiting with the packed crowd of yoga enthusiasts for the session to begin, we chatted excitedly about the heat and the turnout. There was a wonderful sense of camaraderie in our supposedly impersonal city. A very pregnant participant sitting behind me sympathized about my lack of a mat and wanted to lend me her clean towel. I declined initially but she insisted I would need it, so I soon accepted her kind offer.