November 1, 2012

Hurricane Yoga: What Did You Feel? ~ Christine Chen

Two days after Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast, we’re still processing the full extent of the suffering, with the knowledge that recovery will take quite awhile.

But because yoga is so tied to the elements, yogis and yoginis were moved in ways that connect them to their practice. Hurricanes wreak havoc through the elements. Earth is slammed by masses of water, ripped apart by devastating winds, and fires often erupt as a result of all of the above. What’s left is space to notice change that leaves us no option but to let go of the past and heal.

In the past few days, it’s been a team effort for my studio in New York weighing whether to hold class, how many classes to hold and when so that we could continue to provide support and spiritual guidance while being safe and working around the lack of subways, buses and power.

Open for two classes Monday morning before shutting down and getting to safe places, then reopening late Tuesday as it became obvious that the Upper West Side was a haven with power and services. The energy of healing and devotion continues to be a definition of community, even as schedules get back to normal.

Both days, in all classes, people who might not normally chant raised their voices to sing “Om shanti shanti shanti” to the sound of the harmonium. People who had never done a lotus mudra held them at their hearts to channel new beginnings and rising from adversity. Yogis and yoginis embraced asana that was both physically and spiritually grounding, while opening their hearts to send compassion, holding strong in their willpower to make it through challenge and melting tension away from their hips, filled with pent-up emotions from the intensity of the storm.

Breathing has been deeper, and savasana has been, collectively, more restful than I’ve seen in a long, long time.

We’ll continue to learn more as the recovery from Hurricane Sandy continues, but perhaps in disaster we also have been able to explore our practices and teachings more deeply, learning on other levels to see beneath the surface of our practices and allow graceful, more conscious action to arise in new spaces, new places.


Christine Chen is a two-time Emmy winning, 10-time nominated broadcast journalist, turned small business owner, turned yoga teacher in New York at community-focused NY Loves Yoga and at nationally-recognized fitness provider, David Barton Gym.

Christine writes about yoga and wellness and is an example of the realistic application of yoga in daily life as a path to transformation.  Soon, she will release a yoga guidebook for busy people, based on the personal yoga practice she developed during her own healing and transformation (represented by Zachary, Schuster & Harmsworth).  Off the mat, Christine is a wife, golden retriever mom, and Microsoft’s corporate web caster on tech topics. She can be contacted at christinechenyoga.comTwitter and Facebook.

Editor: Thaddeus Haas

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