The New York Times has a wonderful feature — with video — of Eddie Stern, which is quickly making the rounds of social media. You can find the link right here if you haven’t already seen it.
I won’t go so far as to say it is a bit redemptive for the Times, which yesterday also finally ran a story on that other A-yoga issue that — in our opinion — continues to demonstrate such a reductive understanding of yoga that it isn’t worth the time I’ve already wasted on it. (It was infuriating.)
The Stern piece is much warmer, deeper and seems to capture the two sides of Stern that generally come through: the first is that “hushed tone talk” of him and the second is that he is maintaining the grand teacher tradition of Guruji (which I know Tim Miller also sustains).
If this piece doesn’t get you excited about meeting Stern in a few days, well, frankly, you ought to sell your Confluence ticket to someone who is excited! (OK, that may be a bit cranky-sounding, but I’ve had a horrible night’s sleep, I’m up a half-hour earlier than normal and I’m not in my happy place. But this piece has helped motivate me this morning.)
A few quick excerpts, but you’ll need to go to the link and watch the video, which I can’t embed here because WordPress is not “all that.”
That teacher was Patthabi Jois, affectionately referred to as “Guruji,” whom Stern met in Mysore, India, in 1990. When a local bookseller told him there was a great yoga master living in town, Stern took down his address and just showed up one morning, greeted by a big man wearing what looked like a dish towel wrapped around his waist. “He was not at all what I expected,” Stern says. Nevertheless, he stayed to chat with Jois and returned the following year to study with him.
Stern’s journey into the practice began in the late ’80s when he was introduced to yoga, meditation and vegetarianism by a co-worker at Bleecker Bob’s records. “At the time I was living a very unhealthy lifestyle,” he says. By 1989, he was a teacher in Manhattan, where there were only a handful of yoga studios. Now, every gym offers yoga classes and studios have cropped up in all five boroughs, but Stern’s studio has always maintained a dedicated following, including celebrity practitioners like Gwyneth Paltrow, Chris Martin, Willem Dafoe, Mike D., Madonna, Julian Schnabel and Russell Brand.
“In all honesty, it makes me feel good if someone who is really successful in any field wants to come and study with me,” he says. “I’m not going to say that it doesn’t make me feel good to have Madonna coming to practice with me. That’s cool — Madonna was an iconic part of my teenage years.”
Given the Times’ take lately on yoga — to which Stern has responded — I can’t help but wonder if he felt some trepidation about the piece. He’s no media novice, so he must have known it would include the talk of the “bold names” as the Times calls them, but it also highlights the Broome Street Temple (though no mention that it just reopened, which seems a bit of an oversight) and Stern’s work with Bent on Learning.
All in all, pretty fair. And a little pre-Confluence treat for us all.
Posted by Steve