International Day of Yoga & Summer Solstice
Thursday, June 21 was both the International Day of Yoga and the Summer Solstice! So how's a yogi to celebrate? First up was the International Day of Yoga at the United Nations.
The UN event was actually held on Wednesday, June 20 (which would be the 21st in India so all good!). This is the second year I've gone to this event and it's so lovely. it's held on the North Lawn of the UN building, which has a fantastic view of the East River and my home borough of Queens! The programming included two different brief yoga sessions.
The first featured 5 yoga masters from the Bhakti Center, led by the darling Kevin Tobar (@yogishambo). I don't know Kevin well, having only met him once or twice, but I know him to be a good soul and a great teacher. He was also repping us Laughing Lotus people as he's a Love Skool grad too! He led a fun practice that was the perfect speed for a very mixed crowd.
Speaking of the crowd, I go to a lot of yoga events- mostly you see your typical yogis- youngish, white, American, thin, affluent- not a dig, just an observation. This event is notable for the fact that there are actual Indian people in attendance! Unlike the typical yoga event, there's a real family community vibe that I love- this isn't just a "let's be mindful and do fancy poses' kind of thing- it's a real celebration of Indian heritage and culture. It's really one of my favorite events. Plus, they give out lovely swag- like yoga mat & some awesome Ayurvedic products from Medimix (who were also a sponsor of the Solstice event) AND a delicious vegetarian Indian hot snack box. I don't know what was in it but it was good (no picture, it was in my belly too fast).
The rest of the evening consisted of yoga demonstrations (more actual Indian people!), speakers, including the UN's Deputy Secretary General, Amina J. Mohamed and a videotaped address from the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi and a musical performance from the Sri Chinmoy Center choir. There was also a second short asana practice led by Swami Paramanada of the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centers- which was a perfect capper. All in all, a wonderful event that I look forward to every year!
Thursday brought the Mind over Madness Solstice yoga in Times Square. Which was kind of the exact opposite vibe from the night before! This is another event that I love and go to every year. It's completely wacky and insane but it's so much fun. Like I do every year, I got up at the crack of dawn to go to the first class of the day, 7:30. This year for the second year in a row that class was taught by Douglas Stewart, from ISHTA. I probably couldn't pick him out of a lineup because I never get to actually see him but I would know his voice anywhere! He led a relatively gentle flow which may not have been what he intended but he probably didn't count on it raining. A lot. Like through 85% of the class. I really felt like a hardcore yogi- doing yoga, in Times Square, at 7:30AM, in the rain. And it was FUN. The Times Square event really has great energy and I'd recommend it to anyone. It's a great way to kick off the longest day of the year. They also give out some lovely swag- including a mats sponsored by Aerie, snacks from RX Bar, and more lovely products from Medimix.
Both events are free every year but do require advanced signup. Watch this space to find out when signups open for next year.