June 20 marked the first day of summer, the longest day of the year and the world’s biggest Bikram Yoga class. Solstice temperatures of 92 F (33 C) couldn’t keep more than 14,000 practitioners away from the Mind Over Madness event in New York – especially not the Bikram Yogis, who are used to performing their asanas in 40 C heat.
The challenge from event sponsor Athleta: Anyone can find tranquility on top of a mountain. Can you find it in the middle of Times Square? To that end, four yoga classes were offered free of charge throughout the day, including a 12:30 p.m. Bikram session led by Rajashree Choudhury, five-time winner of the All-India Yoga Championship and founder of the USA Yoga Federation.
“I first practised yoga in a children’s park on the grass, in the sun, with people passing by,” said Rajashree, who is, of course, married to Bikram Yoga creator Bikram Choudhury
. “‘Hatha’ is often translated as the union of sun and the moon, similar to the concepts of yang and yin in Asian and Chinese philosophy. The summer solstice is a wonderful time to celebrate the physical and spiritual health benefits of yoga.”
“You’re in the middle of one of the busiest places in the U.S., trying to do a yoga class,” said one Mind Over Madness participant. “I think it fits perfectly well with the theme of the event.”
“It was exhilarating, exciting … and really hot!” according to another.
“The way they bend – we don’t do that in Oklahoma,” tourist Ted Patrickson told DNAinfo.com
after a few minutes of watching the outdoor Bikram Yoga class. (Actually Ted, thanks to Yoga Quest
in Tulsa, you can!)