Yoga or Twerking in the Park, You Decide

Image: Bench at Bryant Park, New York City, 2017 (Photo by Tanya Feke)

Welcome to Live-It-Uary, a place to celebrate life while we live it. Live-It-Uary honors people who show kindness, people who create and inspire, people who do good deeds. Thank you for making the world a better place.

Exercising in the Park

A walk in the park is expected but a twerk in the park? Now that’s something to talk about!

yoga in the park
Image: Yoga in the Bryant Park, New York City, August 18, 2017 (Photo by Tanya Feke)

Before you start thinking inappropriate thoughts, let me assure you things are not what they seem. What I am about to tell you is quite innocent — I swear — and hopefully, you find it inspirational.

It took only seconds for me to fall in love with New York City’s Bryant Park. After walking what felt like cities of blocks, I came to find hundreds of people of different colors and creeds lying on the ground in the center green. A voice on an overhead speaker invited everyone to breathe as one, to let go, to simply be in the moment.

After taking a snapshot — who wouldn’t? — I paused to breathe too, marveling at the show of humanity. All these people, strangers, felt comfortable enough to rest side by side. In a show of trust and vulnerability, they closed their eyes, they lay prostrate, and they bared themselves to the world.

Breathe in, breathe out, Daniel-san.

I quietly found a spot on the grass and sat criss-cross apple sauce. I know that’s not an official yoga name, but that’s what my kids would call it. Unfortunately, my late arrival precluded any downward dogs or mountain poses. The yoga class had come to an end, but not before I was able to appreciate the beauty of the unity around me.

yoga in the park
Image: The Josephine Shaw Lowell Fountain in Bryant Park, New York City (Photo by Tanya Feke)

Watching from the Side Lines

Bryant Park is only one of many parks in the country where you can find not only fitness classes but art exhibits, ballroom dancing, Shakespearean plays, you name it. Still, many people prefer to go it alone. Like a choose your own adventure, they pursue what makes a park special to them. Maybe that’s walking the dog or shooting free throws on the basketball court. Better yet, it could be twerking in front of a parking lot of school-aged children.

Wait, what?

My children had the good fortune to go to summer camp this year. For eight glorious weeks, they spent their days on a lake doing everything from archery to boating to swimming to zip lining. For eight glorious weeks, they took the bus from our local park to get there and back, and for eight glorious weeks, they watched a man arrive at the park, precisely at 7:30 in the morning, and work out with fervor near the baseball field. My kids called it twerking, but it wasn’t really. It was more jumping jacks, push ups, and football drills. You get the idea.

Thank goodness they have no real idea what twerking looks like!

Without knowing it, this twenty-something-year-old man became part of our summer routine. What started as a silly joke to the kids — “is Twerking Man here?” — became concern when he would show up 5 minutes late — “Oh no, I hope he is okay!” His willingness to do what he wanted to do regardless of who was watching, not caring if he would be ridiculed or mocked, meeting his goal day after day, inspired us. We offered him his privacy, didn’t approach him, but that didn’t stop us from looking forward to his visits every day.

Inspiration in the Most Unlikely Places

So much happens around us, but few people pay attention. It becomes too easy to focus on those things that affect us directly, or rather what we think affects us directly. If only we realized that everything affects us on some level. We can “not my circus, not my monkey” as much as we want, but in reality, we are all in this together. We can support each other more and be kind to each other more and send a ripple effect of positivity into the world.

Yoga in the park or twerking in the park may not seem newsworthy to you, but to me, they signify what it means to be brave. Be brave by being vulnerable with your fellow man. Be brave by not letting public opinion hold you back. Be brave by doing what you want to do.

This Live-It-Uary honors those of you who are not afraid to lay it on the line in public. You may be inspiring people without knowing it. Keep doing what you’re doing.