I started my day with a PB&J sandwich and banana before heading out bright and early for the Farmer's Market. I wanted to pick up some of the stuff for our Thanksgiving meal so I won't have to get it all at one time (today we are on a mission for the turkey). I loaded my bags with potatoes (3 kinds), apples, apple cider, pink(!) radishes, onions, and a tri-color bunch of carrots! I got 6 large carrots - orange, yellow, and purple - for $1.75! This is why I love the market! There are such wonderful and interesting things and for very reasonable prices! Plus, I'm supporting local (within 200 miles) farmers and vendors.
Then, I headed back up to our apartment to unload my loot and get my stuff together for the rest of my day.
I met up with my friends and fellow health enthusiasts, Gracela and Special K, at the Chopra Center & Spa in Midtown. Deepak Chopra teamed up with his friend, hotelier Vikram Chatwal, to create a destination in Midtown Manhattan to "calm the chaotic lives of busy New Yorkers" that ties in with Chatwal's hotel, Dream. We decided to try out their guided meditation session. They offer these sessions daily, for no cost! After descending from the storefront located on Broadway, we entered a beautiful but simple space that included the front desk for the spa and the yoga rooms. We put out shoes in the cubby holes and made our way into the dimly lit room with dark wood floors and maroon walls. A kind woman, Lauren, welcomed us and after learning it was our first time, showed us where to store our stuff and where to find the props - bolsters and blankets. She put backrests (like beach chairs) in a circle on the floor and we found three spots.
There were 9 participants, apart from Lauren, with one other woman new to meditation. Lauren explained that meditation is simple, but very difficult. The purpose is to free our minds, to open our minds, and push out all thoughts. In order to meditate, one tool that can be used is to focus on your breath using a mantra. These mantras are not said aloud, however, like in some yoga classes. I wasn't sure how I would do with this since my mind is going a million miles a minute all the time, but I wanted to try. We got comfortable, Lauren turned the lights down lower and put a lit candle in the middle of the circle. The next twenty minutes were both quite slow and extremely fast. It was difficult for me to push the thoughts out of my mind, but I did my best not to fall asleep and to focus on my breath! It was amazing how different it was inside that room compared to out on the street from which we had just come. Some of the other participants arrived in regular clothes - jeans, sweaters - and were obviously taking a break out of their day. What a great idea! We left feeling refreshed even though I know I didn't truly meditate. It was still a great way to break up my day and just relax and check out for a few minutes. As you can see, we were all smiles leaving our first guided meditation session!
Next we jumped on the N train and headed down to Union Square. Yes, my second trip to the Farmer's Market. It was a bit busier this time but we got apples and apple cider for a quick snack before we walked down to Yoga To The People on St. Marks Place for yoga.
Some of you who read this blog and know about my foot might be thinking "Yoga? Can she do that?" Well, thanks for worrying! I asked my doc on Tuesday specifically about yoga and he said it was fine as long as I modify any poses that might hurt or even stop if its uncomfortable. I did forgo a few poses that required me to balance on my right foot, but for the most part, it was fine!
So, Yoga To The People has studios in NYC and Berkeley, CA and San Francisco. The idea behind the studio is to make yoga available to everyone, not just those with enough money to fork over hundreds of dollars a month for classes. They ask for a donation of $10 but they'll take however much or little you have to give. Mats can be rented for a buck or two and water is a dollar. We walked up to the second floor - several people ahead of us and more behind - to find shelves in the hall for shoes and LOTS of people. The space was buzzing and I'm glad we got there when we did. The 2nd Fl studio teacher - a cute and energetic punk rock yogi - was instructing people that two studios on the 3rd Fl were also open but there was still space in hers. We stayed on the second floor and found space towards the back. Not long later, the instructor was moving people around to fit 9 mats in each row and by the time class began, there were probably more than 60 people in the space. I have never been in such a large class. Our mats were about an inch apart. We started in child's pose for a few minutes and then, it began.
The next hour was a fast paced workout focusing on balance, lengthening, strengthening, and quickness! At one point during the abs series, I could not keep up, and I wasn't alone! Another thing I have to mention, was the noise level! I haven't taken too many yoga classes, and 99% have been at my gym, but I've never been in a class where people make so much noise breathing in and out! If you take yoga, do you do this? I'm fine with it, but seriously, some of these people were REALLY loud! anyway, I thought it was a good class, I sweated a lot, and felt worked out. This morning, too, I am definitely feeling it!
After class, we wanted a bit of nourishment and ducked into a cute diner that always seems to be busy - The Smith. Gracela and Special K both opted for omelets, but I went for a great veggie sandwich - avocado, tomato, cucumber, sprouts, and goat cheese on whole grain bread. I also switched out the fries for the home fries. Which was both a great idea and a bad one. They were amazing, and I am picky about my home fries! These would rank in my top 5 for sure! I ate them all (bad) and took home half of my sandwich for later.
Overall, we had a fantastic day! I think we'll all be making return visits to the Chopra Center for more meditation sessions (the best part is that it is only two blocks from our office!) and even though Yoga to The People was really packed tight with people, I think I'm going to try it out again too! I definitely recommend both of these places to everyone who lives in the city, or anyone visiting. Great, low cost ways to relax and get a bit of exercise!
Here are the details:
Chopra Center & Spa
1710 Broadway 212.246.7600
Free Daily Guided Meditation
Yoga To The People
12 St Marks St 917.573.9642