Model of service: Eddie Stern and the Richmond City Jail
I was sorely tempted to title this, “Eddie Stern goes to jail,” but I will resist the blogger/trolling impulse for cheap hits.
Although, getting more eyes on this wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing. This is a wonderful story to share.
It deals with Eddie Stern’s visit to the Richmond City Jail. You might recall that Eddie wrote about the Robbie Norris, who teaches yoga at the jail. Reminder link to Eddie’s blog is right here. A key piece:
So, when Robbie Norris, who has been teaching yoga for free in the Richmond City Jail for three and a half years, sent me this letter from Bryan Shull, one of his students serving time, I thought, man, this guy has landed himself in prison, but now he is working on himself, and has tapped into what yoga is truly about. In LA and in NY, we are in a different type of prison – of glamour, of beauty, of overwork, of struggling to succeed. We don’t need to do yoga to help us reach those ephemeral goals, we need it to help us see that they are ephemeral.
Now, I’ve come across Robbie’s story about Eddie’s coming to the jail. It is definitely worth the read, especially since we have our double days off this weekend. No excuse not to stretch the muscle between your ears. A little part to whet your appetite:
Picking up Eddie at the train station, I amusedly saw that he was also a cheerful, dapper, sartorial connoisseur; and super sharp, with easy, graceful humor. His clarity, transparent honesty, cultured passion for teaching and telling stories, and scholarship are why people speak so respectfully of Eddie. He has become known worldwide in Ashtanga circles and beyond, without advertising or seeking attention; his studio didn’t even have a website until just over a year ago. Every year for 20 years Eddie traveled to India to study with Pattabhi Jois, and he translated two of Jois’s books into English. Steeped in yoga practice and study, Eddie exudes intrinsic kindness, precision, and lack of pretension. Michael Pepe, a student who has been practicing with Eddie for about a dozen years, and now lives partly in Richmond, and so practices at both studios, seemed so pleased when I told him of my impression of Eddie. ”And the wonderful thing, Robbie, that you’ll find if you continue to know Eddie,” Michael said, “is that he’s always like that, very consistent.”
The real hero in this tale, as I’m sure Eddie would be the first to say, is Norris. He’s the one who continues to bring yoga to the inmates and, judging by the letter mentioned above, helping change lives for the better. A link to his site about teaching yoga in the jail is here, for those interested.
I should also note that Robbie’s blog mentions that David Swenson has donated yoga mats to his effort at the Richmond City Jail. Ashtangis uniting around a good cause.
We have wonderful models to follow in these senior teachers, as they did.