On Las Olas surf safari, we offer yoga classes twice a day, but for me making it to one is a stretch. Taking time out for meditation and renewal seems a luxury. However, after yoga I’m clear-headed, calmer, and as a result, I can accomplish more. Works every time.
While on vacation in New York City, I was determined to unplug and unwind, so I thought I’d join Athleta’s free yoga in Bryant Park. What a surprise to see it was taught by someone familiar, the very graceful and inspiring Elisabeth Halfpapp of Exhale Spa. Shaded by the trees, I took in the gleaming sunlight through the leaves and towering buildings. I inhaled and exhaled while Elisabeth calmly guided us through the poses. Within an hour I was grounded in the heart of the otherwise hectic city.
From there, I learned that Lolë Activewear was hosting a much larger yoga get-together called the White Tour, a kind of yoga-palooza on Central Park’s Great Lawn for 10,000 yoginis! Lolë promised bumblebee yellow yoga mats if we all dressed in white. Count me in! Being part of a beehive is exactly what attracts me to NYC in the first place.
Side note: Central Park is one of my favorite places on the planet. I’ve always felt it’s the magical heart of Manhattan. For the last three decades the Women’s Committee and the Board of Trustees of the Central Park Conservancy have hosted the annual Hat Luncheon raising millions to support Central Park. I tip my hat to the women who maintain and protect this essential oasis.
I connected with my old friend Melena and we made a plan to meet at the Park. “Look for me, I’ll be the one in a white yoga outfit,” I texted.
Lolë did provide a sea of yellow yoga mats and somehow we managed to get right below the stage. The coordinators and helpers made the process of positioning all the attendees friendly and seamless. Under sunny skies and gentle breezes, they embodied the zen of the moment. Even the NYPD was calm and jovial, although they seemed a little confused by the theme.
Right on time, musicians Ingrid Michaelson and Donna De Lory started a dreamy background set punctuated with songs from their collections. Following a brief meditation, the class began, alternating between teachers Elena Brower, Rodney Yee, and Colleen Saidman Yee.
The pace of each instructor was unique. Elena was the perfect warm-up, Rodney was purposeful and exhilarating, and Colleen was meditative and calming. Of course, a camera drone flying above during warrior pose brought me back to earth, but it was just documenting the event and soon buzzed off.
At one point, I turned back to stretch into a pose. The sun was setting and the Midtown skyline was twinkling alive. Instantly, it hit home. I realized I was definitely not alone. Across the Great Lawn as far as I could see were people, all in white, practicing yoga in harmony. 10,000 yoginis? I didn’t count, but in a city of such tragedy and hope, I felt peace shining from within each one of us.
When class was over, Ingrid and Donna played us back onto the streets and avenues surrounding the Park. Naturally, we followed our hearts and did what any visiting yogini would do—headed to the rooftop at the Hudson for martinis. Namaste!
See you in the waves,
PS: If you’re looking for more yoga in NYC, tap here.
Lolë Activewear White Tour schedule.
Bev Sanders is founder and president of Las Olas Surf Safaris for Women and editor-in-chief of Jennifer’s Journey, the online travel portal for women adventurers. She started surfing at 44 continuing her lifelong pursuit of introducing women to sports. You’ll find her and husband Chris on the beach in Mexico throughout the surf season.