Thursday, June 21, 2012


YOGA CLASS HITS TIMES SQUARE - The smoldering heat was nothing to thousands of yogis who turned out in Times Square Wednesday for the world's largest Bikram Yoga class. The 92-degree weather was substantially less than the 105 degrees - and 40 percent humidity - of a typical indoor Bikram class. More than 14,000 yogis spread out across several of Times Square's pedestrian plazas spent an hour and a half balancing, bending, and stretching, one of three classes being at the Crossroads of the World in the annual celebration of the summer solstice. The class, a set of 26 postures and two breathing exercises, was run by Rajashree Choudhury, a five-time winner of the All-India Yoga Championship and wife of Bikram Choudhury, the founder of Bikram Yoga. "If you can make it in Times Square perfectly, then you are a perfect yogi," she told her captivated audience before the class. "The solstice is the celebration of the sun. As yogis, we worship the sun." The event, put on by the Times Square Alliance and activewear maker Athleta, has become an opportunity for many to experience a more peaceful version of one of the busiest parts of the city.

"It purifies your body, it makes you feel great. It heals and revives you," said Jillian Sage, an instructor at Bikram Yoga NYC. "Everyone who you know is here. There's a sense of peace and togetherness despite how busy it is." For Alexandra Ruiz of the Upper East Side, it was also a milestone: her final class capping off 130 consecutive days of Bikram Yoga. "It's changed my life," she said. As the class went on, overheated yogis stripped off their outer layers - much to the amusement of passers-by. "The way they bend - we don't do that in Oklahoma," said tourist Ted Patrickson, 34, after a few minutes of watching. The Times Square Alliance will host one more class on Wednesday, starting at 7 p.m. The first 1500 attendees will receive free yoga mats from Athleta.  “It really doesn’t matter what’s going on in Times Square, doesn’t matter what’s going on with the guy next to you. It’s all about just being in the moment whatever that moment may be,” Richard Pietromonac, a demonstrator at the event said. For many cultures, the summer solstice symbolizes a time to renew and refresh the mind, body, and spirit.

The bright lights of Times Square in New York City are world renowned, but today hundreds made their way over to the famous locale for a different kind of “bright light” experience. On the longest day of the year, the summer solstice, the sun's bright light plays a crucial role in the tenth anniversary of “Solstice in Times Square: Mind over Madness Yoga.” Four free hour-and-a-half classes were offered throughout the day and attracted a steady stream of people of all ages, places, and yoga levels. The seeds of the yoga system may be discovered in the ancient Vedic texts.

The word yoga is derived from the root "yuj", which means to unite or to join together. The practice of yoga may lead to the union of the human with the divine - all within the self. The aim of yoga is the transformation of human beings from their natural form to a perfected form. The Yogic practices originated in the primordial depths of India's past. ... Yoga is an integral part of the Hindu religion. There is a saying: “There is no Yoga without Hinduism and no Hinduism without Yoga.”  The country of origin of Yoga is undoubtedly India, where for many hundreds of years it has been a part of man’s activities directed towards higher spiritual achievements. The Yoga Philosophy is peculiar to the Hindus, and no trace of it is found in any other nation, ancient or modern. It was the fruit of the highest intellectual and spiritual development. The history of Yoga is long and ancient. The earliest Vedic texts, the Brahmanas, bear witness to the existence of ascetic practices (tapas) and the vedic Samhitas contain some references, to ascetics, namely the Munis or Kesins and the Vratyas.

Sushama Londhe :
“A Tribute to Hinduism” - “Yoga and Hindu Philosophy”
Pragun Publications, New Delhi, India -

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