Yoga at the Great Lawn, the public art-meets-yoga event hosted by Flavorpill and New York City Anusara teacher Elena Brower, managed to set the record for the world’s largest documented yoga event with 13,000 RSVPs. It will also go down in history as the shortest. Fortunately Well+Good and portrait photographer Benjamin Spell showed up early to bring you this pre-game photo essay of the single-salutation yoga class.
While yogis were lining up with their free Jetblue-Gaiam yoga mats to practice, and Brower was giving interviews (I can’t wait to see how CNN covers yoga), the rain clouds were blowing in. When she took the stage at 7:30ish, it was to say the event wouldn’t be allowed to continue if there were thunderstorms. Apparently it’s written into the park permit. So we crossed our fingers (and our legs into lotus).
Shri Dharma Mittra, now 71, led the park in an Om that kept going for several minutes, and, for several more, the rain slowed. A single row of Who’s Who yoga teachers like Sadie Nardini, Sarita Lou, and Duncan Wong sat like Adidas-branded Buddhas, all in matching white tanks. (Not a great color in the event of rain…) Behind them, the 7,000 yogis who showed were doing the opposite of a rain dance.
When Elena Brower said “Come to the top of your mat,” the crowd cheered, taking it to be our reprieve. She eased us through just one sun salutation before the rain returned and the plug was pulled. Just as well: the mats were becoming slicker and some yogis had already put them to use as rain tarps.
So how does the world’s largest yoga class cope with this anti-climactic disappointment? Did the several thousand yogis smile serenely look for the “blah-blah message” in this? Hell no. These yogis are New Yorkers first. No one wanted to run for cover, and would have preferred to keep practicing despite the downpour. Instead they rolled up their free mats and sulked off to the subway and Souen to drown their sorrows in brown rice and bancha tea.
Check out our photos of the abbreviated event, and why not send your friends here to see them? We’ll see you at the rain-date class in Central Park later this summer.
Om shanti, Melisse Gelula & Alexia Brue