Yoga In The City: Find Your OM-ies
When I first joined my local yoga studio, I was that quiet chick in the corner who hid behind her book until the Dharma Talk kicked off, we all om-ed, and class began. At the end of class, I silently rolled up my mat, slipped into my flip-flops, and slipped out the door, with a quick thank-you nod to the teacher.
Then a warm, welcoming group of yoga teachers and teacher trainees took me under their wing and, suddenly, that yoga studio was my second home. Those yogis were like my family.
Sure, yoga was about breathing and focus and mindfulness and a deliciously intense practice. But even more than that, it was about being part of a community.
The Wanderlust Festival is about that, too, magnified by a thousand.
This past Sunday, I drove into NYC with five of my best OMies for Wanderlust's Yoga in NYC event. As we signed in at the registration table, getting our wristbands for the 4:30 p.m. session, I couldn't take my eyes off the yogis spread out across the expanse of Hudson River Park. Watching them sweep their arms in unison into their peaceful warriors and their half moons was like watching a beautifully choreographed ballet.
When it was finally time for us to snag our own mat space, we plonked ourselves down in the middle of the crowd. People with strong cores, beautiful control, and sexy yoga leggings floated into warm-up forearm stands around us. A pair of women two rows in front of me stretched out their hips with some partner baddha konasana. Off to the side, one adorable little girl wrapped herself up in several mats. I was charmed, and excited to be around so many new-to-me yogis.
Before class began, festival organizers talked us through some basic AcroYoga poses, and yogis walked the crowds, helping us fly.
"It's about using the yoga community for support," we were told. I considered how true that was, in more ways than one, as several members of my group took to the skies with the guidance of an experienced AcroYogi.
Then Laughing Lotus co-creator Dana Flynn took the stage and — to the beats of Macklemore, Daft Punk, and all your other favorite guilty pleasure songs — encouraged us to interact with our neighbors as we played around with several mudras and mantras, jumped around, wiggled our hips, and loosened up. As the hip sway is my best (and only) dance move, I felt relieved to be rocking it out among a massive group of non-judgmental yogis.
Raghunath took over from there, leading us through an intense but accessible half-hour practice, and then David Romanelli cooled us down. While in savasana, I wiggled my toes in the grass. The hush in the air was heavy. I had never found so much quiet in the city before. Especially while surrounded by the rush and relentless push of so many people.
Afterward, we walked the High Line, and then went out for drinks and laughed our way through several rounds of beers, eager to make the day stretch out even further. As I sipped my drink, my body thrummed with excitement for the forthcoming Wanderlust Festival in Vermont.
Four days of flow with thousand of yogis! I thought to myself.
So what if I didn't yet know a damn one of them? These were my people.