Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
In this Dec. 31, 2012 photo provided by Derek Goodwin, from left, Jivamukti Yoga teacher Tomo Okabe, MC Yogi, and his wife Amanda Gia participate in a Silent New Year's Eve celebration at the Jivamukti Yoga in New York. While thousands of revelers shout, holler, cheer and yell in the new year in Times Square, scores of New Yorkers will gather a mile away to pass the waning moments of the year without a word, at a yoga school that's marking the 25th anniversary of its inward-looking New Year's Eve tradition. After cutting loose for an hour with a band that plays devotional Sanskrit chant music, participants hush up at 9 p.m. Even staffers use pencil and paper if they need to communicate. Participants do whatever comes to mind — yoga exercises, journal writing, reading — as long as it's quiet and alcohol-free. (AP Photo/Jivamukti Yoga, Derek Goodwin)
At one NYC New Year’s event, 3, 2, 1 ... shhh!
First Published Dec 30 2013 12:54 pm • Last Updated Dec 30 2013 12:54 pm

New York • Here comes 2014! Three! ... Two! ... Mum.

While hundreds of thousands of revelers cheer, shout and yell in the new year in Times Square, hundreds of New Yorkers will gather not far away to pass the waning hours of 2013 without a word.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

They’ll be quietly observing a 25-year tradition at Jivamukti Yoga, which opens its doors to people who like to spend New Year’s Eve reflecting, meditating, crafting resolutions, maybe doing a headstand, all in "Auld Lang" silence.

It’s a year-end bash with no pressure to mingle, no need to bring anything, no drunken regrets, and no small talk — or big talk, either.

"The only thing that we ask," Jivamukti Yoga co-founder Sharon Gannon says, "is that you shut up."

If that sounds like a rather muted way to celebrate, participants say it’s a refreshing one — a way to go out but look inward, and end the year on a note of mental tranquility.

Drawing on a long history of silent meditation in yoga, the event certainly isn’t the only venue for people who are less interested in spirits than spirituality on New Year’s Eve. Many churches hold reverent services on Dec. 31; the custom holds particular resonance for many black churches, where Watch Night observances commemorate the Dec. 31, 1862, services at which congregants awaited word that the Emancipation Proclamation would take effect.

And some yoga and spiritual centers advertise multiday silent New Year events. That’s regularly the most popular retreat at Yogaville in Buckingham, Va., which began the New Year’s sessions about four decades ago and expected 65 people this year for more than four days of yoga, meditation, small tasks and listening to lectures, the Rev. Lakshmi Bartel said.

"People who come to Yogaville really want to live better, happier lives ... and New Year’s is the perfect time" to focus on that, she said.

The New York event requires a lesser time and financial commitment — it’s free, while retreats can cost hundreds of dollars or more. It started in 1988 because students were disappointed that Jivamukti Yoga planned to close for New Year’s, Gannon said.

story continues below
story continues below

"We wanted to celebrate New Year’s Eve but didn’t want to do it in a party-down kind of way," she said.

Now, as many as 1,000 people come to the school on bustling Union Square, about two miles south of Times Square, for at least part of the evening, and about 500 are usually there at midnight, Gannon said.

After cutting loose for an hour with a band that plays devotional Sanskrit chant music, participants hush up at 9 p.m. Even staffers use pencil and paper if they need to communicate. Participants do whatever comes to mind — yoga exercises, journal writing, reading — as long as it’s quiet and alcohol-free.

When the clock strikes midnight, the crowd greets the new year with a Sanskrit chant wishing universal happiness and freedom, followed by some uplifting remarks from Gannon and co-founder David Life.

Karin Goldmark generally went to New Year’s parties with friends before trying the Jivamukti Yoga event for the first time in 2006, when she was pregnant and not up for partying.

"I was a bit intimidated, initially, by the idea of meditating for three hours," she said, but it turned out to be fun.

"It still feels like an event ... but it’s not overwhelming. It’s both calm and festive," said Goldmark, who works in education and now also teaches yoga at the school. "All the great stuff about New Year’s Eve, and no hangover."


Follow Jennifer Peltz on Twitter (at) jennpeltz.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.