On my recent trip to NYC, rather than drag myself to tourist sights or shop like a crazy person (oh, Brexit, what have you done to our exchange rate?) I opted to live like a New Yorker, albeit one that doesn’t have a job or any responsibilities whatsoever. Welcome to my fantasy life as a New York trophy wife! I'm joking. I think.
Bryant Park has long been my favourite spot in mid-town, the NYC Public Library is a beautiful building and despite not ever venturing inside the Bryant Park Hotel it’s one of the most striking buildings in the city. Bryant Park is a calm little oasis in an area of town which can feel quite fraught, the park always seems to have something interesting going on and during the summer months hosts free yoga on Tuesday mornings and Thursday evenings.
This class is definitely up there in my most memorable yoga experiences (most pretentious sentence I’ve ever written). I was amazed at how many people were there – it had to be around 200. The organisation is NYC slick – just sign up in advance here, register at the desk, get your loyalty card stamped and grab a spot on one of the provided mats. The flow-based class was led by Jeffrey of Sonic Yoga in Hell's Kitchen and even on an overcast evening with the threat of rain present it was still magical. Feeling the grass beneath my feet and looking up to the giant NYC sky made it a million miles away from my London yoga sessions at 7am in the basement of a city gym. A surprise additional benefit of the NYC summer weather was I felt so flexible, positions which I usually have to work into just felt like a dream – I now get why a lot of the insta-yogis I follow live in Hawaii, our muscles love the heat!
Half way though the class the rain started falling. Slowly at first and then…less slowly. The girls in front of me grabbed their umbrellas, running for cover and saving their blow-dries. The crowd of tourists at the edge of the lawn oddly grew – I hadn’t noticed their presence at first but suddenly there seemed to be a lot of bemused people taking photos of our downward dogs as the rain fell. My mat soon became slightly slippery but we carried on, Jeffrey adapting the class so that we didn’t have to do anything which required too much balance. Suddenly everyone seemed to be laughing, it just felt so absurd and yet completely normal to be sliding on a pink mat in the middle of New York in a summer storm. By the end of the class the rain had stopped, the spell broke and I rolled up my mat and plunged back into the crazy city, frizzy hair and smudged mascara be dammed. Namaste.
Bryant Park free yoga is on until 22nd September - how I wish it didn't require a plane ticket to go back. Or that we had something similar in London.