History in the Being: Sun Salutations in Washington

Salutations to the Washington Monument and 1,700 people enjoying the freedom of yoga.

Rising up into Warrior I, my eyes took in the tip of the Washington Monument piercing a cloudy sky, and I offered my Sun Salutations to independence, freedom, and all that makes me proud to be American. After a couple of days in Washington DC brushing up on our national history at the American History Museum (seeing an Edison lightbulb, the flag that inspired “The Star Spangled Banner” and President Lincoln’s top hat), it’s hard not to feel a little patriotic.

And after seeing the sea of yogis stretched across the National Mall on Saturday morning, it’s hard not to feel ecstatic about how our nation is embracing yoga. The event, organized by Lululemon Athletica as part of Washington’s National Cherry Blossom Festival, drew a great crowd–the unofficial count was 1,700 people. It was a site to behold! And so cool to be a part of this moment in history, when yoga is becoming as American as apple pie.

In an hour-plus class led by Peggy Mulqueen, we breathed together through everything from Hanumanasana (Full Splits) to Bakasana (Crane Pose) to partner Navasana (Boat Pose). Onstage, local teachers, including Yoga Journal’s May cover model Faith Hunter, and a few guests like Ashtanga yoga teacher David Kyle treated the crowd to an impressive display of power and grace. Beneath giant American flags, and on top of a rainbow of sticky mats, there was
a spirit of freedom–and a lot of free spirits!–in the air.