Cheers To Lukewarm Bikram In NYC

June 21 means summer solstice. It’s also National Day of the Gong, National Seashell Day (because summer), National Selfie Day, Go Skateboarding Day, National Daylight Appreciation Day, and National Peaches N Cream Day. [see National Days for proof]. Most importantly, it’s Yoga In Times Square Mind Over Madness Day, also known as Yoga In Times Square, Solstice In Times Square, and International Yoga Day. Also, Lie Down In Times Square Without Getting Arrested Day. Fun for all!

I haven’t been to Summer Solstice Yoga in a few years, so I went this year. I didn’t bring my own mat for the first time, which proved to be freeing and lighter. I did bring a book and wore a backpack. I never wear backpacks–I feel like I’m getting robbed every time I stop walking, I don’t have access to anything, and it’s like carrying a small person around with me. Still, it seemed to be the optimal bag for the day with water and snacks and a change of in-case clothes.

Pit stop: Starbucks 2 in Penn. I grabbed a protein box for lunch that I could eat when I was on line for yoga. I also grabbed a yogurt and sat to read because I’d taken an early train so I could mosey along and not be drenched with sweat before class even started. The cafe had a lot of empty seats. A lot of room for a lot of people. So the very young in love couple dragging luggage behind sat right next to me. Okay fine. Then they started making out. Whenever they stopped making out, they would talk about his future. She knows that he’s going to be a famous director. If you’re interested in this make out session, you can go here. Otherwise, let’s move on.

I walked to Times Square for the 1:30 Bikram class (that would not be over 100 degrees as it has been close to in past years–this year, there was a breeze and the sun came out but not blaringly). Along the way, I passed by a man who was maybe an inch taller than me who was wearing a dapper suit and headphones. When we got to the corner to wait for the light to change, he began dancing off the sidewalk and into the street. Then he danced at me. It’s hard to describe what dancing at someone looks like, but that’s exactly what he did. It’s as if he had a catwalk linked between wherever he went and wherever I was. He would shuffle away in any direction, coming close to cars whizzing by and turning, and then dance towards me, breaking the personal space bubble. I did what any normal person would do–I stood there, not saying a word, not acknowledging the moves, not making eye contact not even through my sunglasses. When the light turned green, I speedily walked around him. We kept passing each other because he would catch up with some fast moves but then slow down to watch himself in window reflections. I lost him after a few blocks. He may still be dancing.

The line-up for me began on 47th and Broadway. Eight people stood on line before me. Well, okay, there were seven people and then a guy who leaned against the gate, talking to the cars driving by. The woman standing in front of him wore cat ears and a cat tail. This guy wore, well, I don’t know exactly, but I remember the bright socks and black sandals. People wear all kinds of things to yoga class, and yoga people can be a little, shall we say, “out there,” so I wasn’t sure if this guy was actually waiting for yoga or simply shouting at cars. I stood a little behind him, a bit off to the side.

When someone else came up behind me to stand on line as he was talking to the air and still leaning on the gate, I looked at her until she looked up so I could whisper, I’m not really sure if he’s on line, so I’m giving him some room. She got exactly what I meant and moved to the curb on the other side of me. Eventually, she and I struck up a conversation and the guy walked away. He wound up on the drop in line for a while, but then went away completely.

On the way in, we got free mats and bags with stuff that we could fill up with more stuff at the Yoga Village two blocks down. All FREE!

My waiting on line gal pal became my yoga gal pal as we set up our mats next to each other and kept chatting. We both went to post photos on Instagram where I saw a post about waiting for class to start. I was like, Oh, I know someone here. She was like, hey what’s your Instagram? And that’s how you introduce yourself to people today. After sharing Instas, we exchanged names. Ha!

The class started and the sun came out with our first breathing sequence. Bikram has a specific sequence, so following is kind of easy. Surprisingly, I did not drip with sweat. I sweat more standing and waiting on line than I did while practicing. The class proved to be calming and invigorating all at the same time. Several times, we all cheered for ourselves. We didn’t chant together, but we breathed together to end it. Then there was more cheering. The whole thing made me happy that I’d returned and excited to be starting yoga teacher training next week.

B and I went to the yoga village together where we scored more water, fresh mango slices, Luna Bars, crackers, and temporary tattoos.

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We parted ways, making a plan to meet up for yoga again some day. I walked back to Penn as the next session of NYC yogis filed in for their solstice gathering. The breeze blew. The sun stayed out. The absolutely perfect first day of summer.

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