You Need A Bath

When I met Julius Betila in midtown Manhattan one unseasonably humid Spring afternoon, I had encountered all of the delays one would expect when already running late. I was hot, sweaty, flustered, and irritated. Was I speaking too quickly and too loudly? Did I leave the iron on? I needed a bath.

We had a brief exchange after a group Sound Bath earlier in the year in Forest Hills, New York, where he is based and I was looking forward to finding ways to collaborate. As we began our meeting, I was quickly enamored by his easy, cool and humble demeanor. He shared thoughts which resonated with me:

In this fast paced world of multi-tasking and hyper-connectivity taking a pause is a radical act.

I immediately knew I was going to like this guy.

So, What is a Sound Bath?

First of all, this is not code language for a kinky, ritualistic cuddle puddle gone wild. There is no disrobing. Shed only your daily cares and sink in to the sounds. The sonic vibrations harmonize the body with the sound waves of drums, singing bowls, chimes, gongs, bells, tuning forks and flutes to create a concert that facilitates a meditative state. Find a comfortable position, lay back (or sit) and let the waves cascade over you to "wash" the stress away. Silently shift to alpha and theta states. Soon you drift into that delicious lucid "in-between" space that is neither waking nor sleeping. You may dream or have visions. You may experience temperature changes. You will enjoy the simple simulated pleasure of floating in a bathtub in a city where bathtubs are a luxury item. You will relax.

Once relegated to "New Age-y hippie-talk" and the metaphysical realm, the increasing popularity of yoga and the services offered by its studios has helped to "mainstream" sound baths to a position in modern science. (The practice, by the way, has been around for thousands of years, thanks to the Tibetans.) We have all seen the research on the benefits of meditation and according to The Washington Post, "in terms of sound baths, researchers have found that sound waves affect the human nervous system and decrease blood pressure more than traditional meditation." There is no dogma, guru or religious affiliation. This is complete full-body bliss and a total mind reset. I'm not sure if we are tuning in to tune out or tuning out to tune in, but expect restful sleep, clarity and a productive day ahead.

Julius is offering several outdoor sound baths this summer as a community service to make this healing modality available to all. If you are in the New York City area, you can enjoy a free Gong Bath from Julius in a waterfront park in Long Island City Thursday, August 3rd, 14th, 21, and September 11 at 8pm, after the Weekly Yoga Summer Sunset Sessions (7pm) which is led by Melissa (Otero) Lomax on Mondays and Thursdays. Sound waves carry on water, so remember to stay hydrated! The sunsets are beautiful here and I'm not just saying that because I am from Queens. TripAdvisor thinks so too and lists it as a Top Thing to Do in Long Island CityHunters Point South Park is adjacent to major highways, tunnels, bridges and subways, making it easily accessible by train, bus, bike, ferry or car.

Communing outdoors with instruments creates a dynamic union with the elements – reminding us that we are all connected. Julius Betila

Julius Betila is a sound therapy practitioner exploring sound as a form of energy to bridge his background in science with spiritual transformation. He uses various sacred instruments like the gong, drums, flutes, chimes, and a shruti box to create a supportive space for remembering and reconnecting with our inherent state of well being. Find more at www.soundhealingvibrations.com

Ann O'Connor is a "Cultural Collaborator," Board Member of the Hunters Point Parks Conservancy and owner of Zoescope Studio. The studio brings humans together and combines elements of the arts, culture, education, healing and environmental awareness to build and activate communities through socially- conscious, inclusive content and engagement. I hope we meet in the space of Real"Social" Media - LIVE and in-person. Zoescope is derived from the Greek "Zoe" meaning "Life": See Life Differently.

Still in the City? Find Your Center in the Geographic Center of New York City

I am the "Goldilocks" of Yoga. I have sampled every style; giggling through Laughing Yoga, tumbling through Acro, suspending through Aerial, sweating through Bikram and floating through Paddle. Every year, I go back to "the just right" feel of outdoor yoga in our city parks. At once, ancient meets modern for the perfect combination of all the things I love: community, parks, my City and its many moods and colors.

Besides the obvious benefits to practicing yoga in Nature, outdoor yoga provides an opportunity for regular physical, healing and therapeutic activity to those who may not be able to afford a class or membership. The casual setting also challenges the "yoga body" image and encourages new students and guests of all body types and abilities.

June to October, you can practice Yoga at the waterfront sponsored by The Hunters Point Parks Conservancy in Long Island City on Mondays and Thursdays at 7pm. Classes are offered by Melissa (Otero) Lomax, who was introduced to yoga during her own personal healing journey while coping with depression.

It was a Bikram Yoga class in Los Angeles and I remember feeling an excitement I hadn't felt in a long time. I started doing Bikram 5 days a week and noticed I was truly healing. Upon returning to New York, I took on Jivamuktiand continued to feel amazing bliss in my heart, body and mind. I could not deny it. Yoga was healing me. After immersion in Vinyasa years later, I was ready to bring this gift to others. During The Yoga Room teacher training, we were required to experience the yoga philosophy that ultimately changed my life...I was able to not only share and face my vulnerability, but also my happiness. This is what yoga is all about–meeting yourself on the mat day in and day out. Facing your demons and awakening to your angels surrounding you.

I had the wonderful fortune to meet Melissa through Sigrid Pichler (The Barkan Method), an instructor at The Yoga Room in Astoria, Queens. I was hooked on Sigrid's style, strength, humor, poise, ease and...her playlist-- a flow of Leonard CohenCaetano VelosaThe BeatlesBob Dylan, the classics, with a bit of The Cranberries sprinkled in). Her Wednesdays and Thursday evening classes are addictive.

After studying and practicing with Sigrid for a number of years, Melissa now dedicates her practice to helping others with the invisible wounds of war, trauma and abuse. A growing number of studies suggests that yoga reduces stress, anxiety, depression, and insomnia by calming and regulating the nervous system and stress response symptoms. New research shows that people suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) experience relief with yoga. It is also good for the brain!

Oh, and did I mention?

That Melissa is an Award Winning International Pop and Latin Pop recording artist? and she started The Angels & Demons Foundation to support those suffering from depression and PTSD to heal through the power of holistic therapy and yoga.

Where?

Yoga: The Summer Sunset Series, Hunters Point Park South, 7pm Enjoy the sunset and watch the lights come up on New York City. Relax in Savasana and open your eyes to the moon and the stars. Long Island City also happens to be the geographic center of NYC. Let the magic begin! Just show up with your yoga mat, water, towel and sunscreen! Free and open to all ages and abilities. There is also a concession on site that is open until 10pm.

About

Melissa is a Certified 200hr Vinyasa and Trauma Informed Yoga Instructor in New York City. Yoga became an important part of her life in 2009 after a long battle with depression. Upon discovering yoga and its healing benefits, Melissa dove deep into the practice and decided to bring her new found love to others by taking a Vinyasa Teacher Training in 2015. Melissa hopes to share her love for music, yoga and body/movement-based interventions in her classes.

Ann O'Connor is a "Cultural Collaborator," Board Member of the Hunters Point Parks Conservancy and owner of Zoescope Studio. The studio brings humans together and combines elements of the arts, culture, education, healing and environmental awareness to build and activate communities through socially- conscious, inclusive content, programming and engagement. I hope we meet in the space of Real "Social" Media - LIVE and in-person. "Zoescope" is derived from the Greek "Zoe" meaning "Life": See Life Differently.

 

 

La Vida Es Una: Dance!

The greatest anthem for summer in the City for me is Marc Anthony's rousing "Vivir Mi Vida". When I hear this song floating over the waves of the East River, on a hot, hot summer night, while the NYC Ferry sounds its horn, summer has truly arrived. Its a tune that calls families into the city park on the waterfront in Queens, where you'll find everyone's favorite B-Girl, Jesaida "J*La-Roc" leading children, adults, seniors and the occasional puppy in a lively, heart thumping, foot-stomping, hand-clapping and inspiring salsa lesson that is an explosive celebration of Life. "You have only this one life!" she shouts. She sings. She preaches.

Jesaida is just one of the many instructors from Martinez Dance Studio, founded by Israel Martinez, which has been operating for decades in Astoria, Queens before moving to the Dutch Kills area of Long Island City four years ago. The popular Wednesdays on the Waterfront series and dance social at Hunters Point South Park in Long Island City (Now, in its fourth year) is a summertime favorite tradition. With a team of charismatic instructors and collection of beats, this bi-weekly production draws crowds from all the boroughs, New Jersey, Long Island and Staten Island. On any given event day, guests can enjoy drumming circles, live music, Zumba, or Salsa lessons.

Puerto Rican roots and Latin influence in music and art have been the basis for Israel Martinez´s work. Born in the South Bronx, surrounded by the rich Puerto Rican culture, Israel was brought up with the sounds, smells and vibrancy of his Latin heritage. Holidays and family gatherings were a time for impromptu jam sessions where Israel learned to dance and play percussion instruments. As a child, he often performed on stage with his father, Israel "Chamaco" Martinez, lead singer for the Salsa band, Batiz y su Orquesta Tropicana.

Coming up at a time where street dancing was creating unconventional trends, Israel associated himself with dance pioneers such as NYC Breakers and developed his skills in Up–Rock, Pop´n Lock, Freestyle and Loft. As a result of such diverse training, Israel broke onto the choreography and production scene with an eclectic style of wide–range appeal.

With his "Performance-Based Living" approach, Israel emphasizes healthy, active lifestyles through dance. "I'm a strong believer in staying fit through dance. I believe a fit community is a strong community," says Israel Martinez. This type of physical activity disguised as socializing is a great way to make fitness available to everyone. His mission is to bring diverse communities together that bond over music and dance.

Parties on the waterfront cultivate music and dance based on African and Cuban rhythms...rhythms that New York City has always embraced. The sounds are as diverse as the city itself. The bottom line is I do this for my city and my community. Young or old, black or white, gay or straight they are all my community. – Israel Martinez

You can still catch these final performances, dance socials with free lessons:

Wednesdays on the Waterfront, 6:30pm at Hunters Point South Park

8/23 - Back To "Old School" 80's party

9/6 - Featuring Grupo Descarrilao

Ann O'Connor is a "Cultural Collaborator," Board Member of the Hunters Point Parks Conservancy and owner of Zoescope Studio. The studio brings humans together and combines elements of the arts, culture, education, healing and environmental awareness to build and activate communities through socially- conscious, inclusive content, programming and engagement. Wednesdays on the Waterfront is programmed by Zoescope Studio for the Hunters Point Parks Conservancy. I hope we meet in the space of Real "Social" Media - LIVE and in-person.

"Zoescope" is derived from the Greek "Zoe" meaning "Life": See Life Differently.

Root Mamma in the Park

Upon meeting, one is immediately bathed in the effervescent, playful and radiant glow of Dani Katz. Through a bizarre sequence of synchronistic events that involved a Mini Cooper and getting lost in Washington Heights, NY, I met Dani. Soon afterwards, I had the pleasure of working with her when she led our sunset yoga classes my first year running programming for The Hunters Point Parks Conservancy.

The first class was small and intimate. (We currently host over 5o guests at each session). The weather was perfect and the setting sun in its warming reds and oranges were so healing for me that day. A participant asked if Dani was my daughter. I thought, do I also emit such a charm and ease that one might think we could possibly be in the same gene pool? I don't think I was so put together at her age.

Her journey through yoga began at 12. Originally, a music major and trombone player, Dani eventually found her calling as a yoga instructor and left music school. She moved to Manhattan and completed a degree in nutrition and food science at Hunter College while teaching yoga at various studios around the city.

After meeting many pregnant clients, Dani began her deep exploration of prenatal yoga. She discovered that yoga and birth have a lot of common ground-–they both are intense mind-body experiences.

 

Introducing the New HPPC Website

We’ve given our website a new look that gives you the information that you want. We’ve built it on the state-of-the-art Squarespace platform, which will allow for rapid updates, modifications, and scalability. The website is mobile-friendly and looks great on both tablets and smartphones.

New Features

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