yoga in the city

wherein trish dalton writes of her yogic retreats from the new york city rush

I moved to New York City two years ago. It was a big change from the northern Ontario town I grew up in. I am used to being a part of a small community, where I am comfortable and familiar with my quiet surroundings. I love Manhattan for its opposite attractions – there are always a million things going on, each of them infused with arts and culture. However, the nonstop energy of "the city that never sleeps" can also be exhausting.

The streets are crowded with cars and people rushing to the sound of the constant symphony of honking horns, car alarms and sirens that echo off concrete skyrises draped in flashing billboards of the digital age. With so much energy and information bombarding personal space, it is perhaps not surprising that the city's cultural centre for the arts, the East and West Village, has become a mecca of major yoga centres.

Yoga classes are advertised on every corner signpost, along with brightly coloured flyers advertising cultural events such as bands and theatre performances. I've seen notices for classes in large centres, as well as ones that take place in unsuspecting lofts, living rooms and basements. Although the major yoga hub seems to be in the Village, yoga appears all over the city – from the low-income, rundown areas of Brooklyn and Harlem to the well-manicured corporate areas of midtown.

A friend of mine recently told me that while flying from Bangkok to New York, she read in the airline magazine about famous art exhibitions in Tokyo, London and Berlin, but the article on New York was about a yoga centre. We decided that it was pretty telling that we both came to New York for the arts and culture, and found ourselves also immersed in the yoga community that exists here.

Yoga offers a retreat from hectic city life. Meant for devotional practice, they are quiet, peaceful places that impart a sense of calm upon entering. The serenity they offer is similar to the quiet escape you can find by entering one of the many century-old churches tucked into most Manhattan blocks.

Trish Dalton lives in Brooklyn, New York. She makes documentary films that focus on community issues and telling people's stories. She is also literary manager for the Fifth Night Screen Play Reading and Short Film Series, held weekly at the Nuyorican Poet's Caf in the East Village,

Copyright ©2007 ascent magazine, first Canadian yoga magazine, yoga for an inspired life