In the heart of one of the world’s busiest cities, New York, a modern summer solstice celebration has emerged, focusing on the symbiosis of mind and body, and its relationship with the natural world. The ‘Mind and Body Day,’ held annually for two decades on the summer solstice in Times Square, presents an intriguing contrast to the ancient solstice traditions, while maintaining a deep connection with the natural rhythms of the Earth.
Mind and Body Day- the birth of a tradition
Mind and Body Day, more commonly known as “Solstice in Times Square: Mind Over Madness Yoga,” began in 2003 as a way to celebrate the longest day of the year. Times Square, often dubbed “The Crossroads of the World,” is a hub of constant activity, filled with flashing billboards, honking taxis, and bustling crowds. Yet, on this particular day, it becomes a haven of tranquillity as thousands of yoga enthusiasts convene to perform their asanas (postures) in unison.
“In the over 20 years since this event began, both New York and the world have been through several cycles of darkness and light. Let us peacefully celebrate light and love through the solstice ritual on what is, in this part of the planet, the brightest day of year.”Tim Tompkins, Solstice in Times Square Co-founder.
The idea was conceptualized by the Times Square Alliance, which aims to challenge and to counterbalance the hectic pace and chaos typically associated with Times Square. They proposed a unique challenge to find tranquillity and internal peace amidst the madness—an exercise in mindfulness and inner peace.
Time Square celebrating Mind and Body Day on Summer Solstice
On Mind and Body Day, participants from all walks of life lay out their yoga mats and partake in a series of free yoga sessions held throughout the day. The event is open to yogis of all experience levels, encouraging a sense of inclusivity compassion and community beyond age, nationality, and skill.
These yoga sessions are not merely physical exercises. They’re a celebration of the summer solstice, a moment to pause, reflect, and connect with the natural rhythm of the earth. Participants are encouraged to draw upon the energy of the sun, to sync their breath with its rise and fall, and to embrace the balance between light and darkness that the solstice represents.
The yoga practice on this day serves as a potent reminder of our connection to the environment. The focus on breath in yoga emphasizes the importance of clean air, and the outdoor setting promotes a sense of unity with nature, even amidst the urban jungle of New York City.
Summer Solstice in Time Square- significance and impact
Mind and Body Day serves as a testament to the adaptability and relevance of ancient traditions in our modern world. While it may not involve the traditional rituals seen in other solstice celebrations around the globe, it taps into the same themes of harmony, balance, and respect for nature.
As the sun reaches its peak in the sky, participants are encouraged to reach within themselves, to find peace amid chaos, and to cultivate a deeper appreciation for our environment. In doing so, Mind and Body Day carries the torch of solstice celebrations into the 21st century, using the principles of yoga to foster a connection with nature and promote environmental consciousness.
The summer solstice in Times Square, thus, stands as a beacon of hope, proving that even in our rapid, technologically obsessed world, we can—and should—take a moment to celebrate our environment, to re-establish our connection with it, and to carry forward the wisdom and reverence of our ancestors into the future.
Participants will have the opportunity to join one of seven free yoga sessions throughout the day on June 21st and visit the Yoga Village between 44th and 45th Streets, which will feature booths, giveaways, and activities. The Alliance has partnered with sponsors that include Consulate General of India, New York, Dave’s Killer Bread, Lifeway Foods, smartwater, and So Delicious. Registered participants who attend will receive a free yoga mat courtesy of event partner Peloton.
All classes will also be streamed live at www.TSQ.org/Solstice via YouTube and on the Times Square Facebook Page so that anyone who wants to can participate from home.
Situated at the intersection of Broadway and 7th Avenue between 44th and 48th Streets, the yoga sessions will include:
- 7:30am – 8:30am: instructed by Douglass Stewart (event co-founder)
- 9:30am – 10:30am: instructed by Kirra Michel (presented by Peloton)
- 11:30am – 12:30pm: instructed by Ruchika Lal (presented by Consulate General of India, New York)
- 1:30pm – 2:30pm: instructed by Marco Rojas
- 3:30pm – 4:30pm: instructed by Nyota Nayo
- 5:30pm – 6:30pm: instructed by Joseph Encinia
- 7:30pm – 8:30pm: instructed by Matt Boylin
DATE: Wednesday, June 21, 2023
TIME: 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
PLACE: Broadway and 7th Avenue between 44th & 48th Streets
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