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Doing Yoga for Good at Wanderlust in the City

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Doing yoga feels so very good: It's calming, challenging, and centering, and it leaves your muscles with that satisfying burn. Know what feels even better? Doing yoga for good.

Yesterday I checked out Yoga in the City, an event put on by our friends at Wanderlust Festival and benefiting Yoga Aid, an organization that turns down dogs into dollars for charity. The afternoon-long event, held at Chelsea Piers (right by Whole Living's offices—that's our building in the background!), featured musicians and presenters as well as two long yoga classes led in 30-minute chunks by well-known instructors, such as Elena Brower and Schuyler Grant.

The sun was shining, the breeze was whipping, and the feeling of shifting into tree pose with several hundred other New Yorkers was indescribably invigorating. (Have you ever done shavasana, or corpse pose, with your eyes open and watching the passing clouds? I highly recommend it.) But perhaps the coolest element of the day's activities was knowing all these people were actually joining 20,000 yogis across the globe for the 24-hour Yoga Aid relay. Participants registered ahead of time and raised money for humanitarian charities with a yoga bent, with all proceeds going toward organizations like Yoga Across America and Off the Mat, Into the World. It's like a 10K for those of us who don't run 10Ks. How rad is that?

I stuck around for both classes, and my favorite element cropped up at the beginning of Kelly Morris's session. "Today," she said, "you're dedicating your practice not just to yourself or to the whole world, but to the person next to you." We turned to our neighbors and just said one word about whatever we were struggling with; I said "torn," and the gentleman next to me said "success."

Then, throughout the practice, Kelly (and the instructors who followed) asked us to think about our buddies and send them whatever they needed. Boy, did that keep me motivated—whenever I was about to give up on crow pose or skip a vinyasa, I remembered I wasn't doing it for myself, but for my neighbor. And then I found the strength.

What do you think: Would you dedicate your yoga practice to a loved one, or even a stranger in the room? Also, it isn't too late to get in on the movement: Yoga Aid has wrapped, but the organization is still accepting donations through the end of September.

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