New Yorkers celebrated uniquely by sponsoring a daylong yoga event as its longest day of the year and first day of summer.
It is estimated that 14,000 people attended the event. Temperatures surpassed 90 degrees Fahrenheit, about 1,500 yoga mats were distributed free for the occasion, and pedestrian spaces in New York’s most frenetic crossroads were completely covered.
Yogis spread out across several of Times Square’s pedestrian plazas spent 90 minutes 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.”
“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 told.