The iconic Times Square of New York is the coveted site for demonstrators competing for international attention. On the summer solstice day every year it is different as thousands of yogasana enthusiasts assemble to exercise at the venue.
While yogasana is generating so much enthusiasm on the other side of the globe, it seems to have been relegated to some corner in India – the place of origin – and even by educational institutions which should have made it a part of their curriculum for the benefit of the students.
Times of India has published a report on the event at Times Square by Chidanand Rajghatta. The following is an excerpt:
WASHINGTON: If yoga is the practice of quieting the mind, as Patanjali, chronicler of the spiritual quest said, its practitioners couldn’t have picked a better place than New York City’s Times’ Square to put the aphorism to test.
Some 16,000 yoga aficionados turned up at what is arguably the world’s glitziest – if not busiest – crossroads to stretch America’s acceptance of the great Indian export, amid continued misgivings in conservative circles about its religious content.
The hum of Om rose above the everyday wailing of police sirens and honking of rude taxis as New Yorkers ushered in summer solstice with open-air yogabhyas from sunrise to sundown on the longest day of the year.
It wasn’t exactly a flash mob. What began as a three-person exercise a decade ago has now grown into a thousands-strong annual event that celebrates ”mind over madness.” The organizers, led by Times Square Alliance, say it is a pushback against the hectic lifestyle in the world’s most vibrant city.
It is also the world’s most diverse and multicultural city that embraces universal values with such ease that no one raised a peep about the iconic square being shut down to traffic for the yoga gig. Curious foreign tourists milled around to see thousands of Americans stretch to instructions from professional teachers, the entire spectacle flanked by anachronistic eateries such as McDonald’s and Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, with neon signs of Spiderman and Buzz Lightyear flashing down.
Coming on the heels of the Obama White House also encouraging yoga with its annual Yoga Garden event during Easter, the growing acceptance and popularity of the ancient Indian practice is marred only by occasional bouts of pique by conservatives who think it is fronting for Hinduism sneaking into America through the back door.
In California, there is an ongoing court case against a school district that established a yoga program with a $ 500,000 grant from the K Pattabhi Jois Foundation, aimed at helping elementary schools students focus on studies, keep calm, and contain aggressive behavior.
Photos at Denverpost.com
Full artice of Times of India at New Yorks’s Time Square becomes Yoga’s Home Sweet Om.