There’s such an amazing feeling that I get when I’m doing yoga. For years I lived and worked in NYC and moved at such a fast pace that slowing down for 60 minutes seemed almost impossible. I would go to a class and find that I was too impatient to be that still. I had deadlines, meetings, networking drinks, ideas to come up with and try to execute, etc, and if I wanted to exercise I would do something that was quick and intense. During that time, and even now, I became riddled with anxiety. One of the triggers for my anxiety is totally weird but I hate being in really wide-open spaces, especially with crowds. Things like walking into large, massive churches, crossing Grand Central station terminal, being in a large open field (think Coachella) and even crossing the street in the middle of Times Square causes mini panic attacks. I usually avoid these things as much as possible but when Athleta posed an opportunity to participate in their Times Square yoga solstice event, I thought it over nervously but decided to take on the challenge. I figured I would find a way to participate even if I couldn’t finish it or had to drop out because I wasn’t comfortable. The thought of LAYING DOWN in the middle of Times Square looking up at massive buildings and scrolling screens made me bite all of my nails off in the days leading up to the event. I’ve been really, really into yoga recently and it’s helped tremendously so I really, really wanted to be a part of this.
When I arrived I found comfort in choosing a spot that felt relaxing, took a deep breath and tried to feed off the positive energy around me. For the first 20 minutes or so I was totally freaked out. My muscles tightened up and I could barely hit poses. I kept going. Suddenly as I got into a flow everything started to loosen up and I felt the energy of the 1,000 other participants around me. I couldn’t believe that I could find a center within myself in the middle of Times Square. I had successfully confronted a fear and worked through it. Yoga is pretty transformative no matter where you do it, but it never could have completely healed that part of my anxiety without actually confronting it head on.
I highly recommend participating in the event next year if you can plan for it. It was a great experience and it’s free! We had Bethany Lyons as an instructor and I’m going to have to look her up when I’m in NYC to try a few more of her classes.
Hope this inspires your week! Thanks for reading!