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Giant Yoga Class in Times Square Draws 16,000 for First Day of Summer

By  Alan Neuhauser and Noelani Montero | June 21, 2013 4:15pm 

 Thousands of yoga enthusiasts took part in a solstice celebration in Times Square on Friday, June 21, 2013.
Thousands of Yoga Enthusiasts Celebrate Solstice in Times Square
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TIMES SQUARE — Thousands of sun-soaked yoga enthusiasts saluted the start of summer together in the heart of Times Square on Friday, as part of the Times Square Alliance's 11th annual Solstice in Times Square celebration.

More than 16,000 locals and tourists — 5,000 more than last year — traveled to the Times Square's bow tie to tie themselves in knots, spreading neon yoga mats along the pedestrian plaza on Broadway for five free classes held throughout the day.

"Even with the jackhammers, I was able to find calmness," said Rebecca Fieni, 46, who traveled to Manhattan from Maryland with her 13-year-old daughter, Grace, to take part in the solstice.

Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance, said the event offered a rare opportunity to "ground ourselves in the middle of all the sensations" of Times Square.

"It's a metaphor and an example of how we live our lives in this crazy modern world of ours," he said as he addressed a crowd of about 3,000 people participating in one of the classes Friday morning. 

Participants as varied as Richad Nalen, 60, a teacher from Bay Ridge, and Megan Arias, 19, a college sophomore from New Jersey, followed yogi Paula Tursi's instructions as they om-ed and stretched.

"You look absolutely wonderful to me. The vibration is awesome," Tursi, clad in a shirt that read "Yoga is Freedom," told the assembled crowd. "Just for a moment, notice where you are in this sacred space that we're creating in Times Square."