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The rave asana
Yoga aficionados often describe the practice as having two possible benefits: strengthening the body and clearing the mind. Now some young enthusiasts are trying to bring their peers to yoga by promising that it can make their social lives more wholesome, too. The idea is that yoga and a sober dance party go together much like raw chocolate and organic peanut butter.
One such event, a "yoga rave" on a Thursday evening in early spring at Pacha, a nightclub in west Midtown Manhattan, was organised by the Art of Living Foundation, a 30-year-old organisation with centres around the world and a mission to promote peace through yoga and meditation.
Shephali Agrawal, a lawyer and a volunteer director at the Art of Living centre in New York, explained the connection between the foundation's mission and a club party.
"Meditation is really discovering the love and the bliss that can be inside, and dancing is such a natural expression of that, " she said. "Just connecting to the pulse, to the music, it allows that energy that's inside to explode outside."
Unlike the usual club party, this yoga rave started at 7 pm. When I arrived at 8. 30, a group called Bhakti Band was onstage, singing yoga chants over a deafening rock beat. Some people were dancing;others stood around eating Indian food or drinking nonalcoholic cocktails. The crowd seemed to be people mostly in their 20s and 30s, with many casually dressed, but a few others in business clothes.
By the time the crowd had been led through a brief, guided meditation, and a group from Buenos Aires, the So What Project!, took the stage, people did seem ready to explode. They jumped up and down to the beat of what the band called its "rock mantras".
The two men of the So What Project!, Rodo Bustos and Nico Pucci, came up with the idea of the yoga rave five years ago because they wanted to offer their party-happy friends an alternative to the smoke, drugs and alcohol of the club scene. They held house parties at first, then moved to larger sites. "We realised that so many people want a different place, want a different orientation to have fun, " said Bustos, who is an Art of Living instructor, in a phone interview.
At the Pacha event, which is part of a seven-city tour of the United States, Tom Silverman, the founder and chief executive of Tommy Boy Records, marveled that such euphoria was being produced without drugs.
"They're acting the same as they would if they'd taken a bunch of pills, " he said of the crowd.
Silverman saw potential. "I could see this being 10, 000 to 20, 000 people in Madison Square Garden, " he said. "There is no alternative like this where you can go and not drink, and still be in bed by midnight. "
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