David Swenson, Richmond City Jail yoga and control of the ego

We highlighted before that David Swenson had donated yoga mats and other material to Robbie Norris’ yoga teaching at the Richmond City Jail. And we’ve done a few other posts about Robbie and one of his students, Bryan Shull, and Eddie Stern’s interest and trip there to do some teaching.

David Swenson, from his site

Now, David has added some more information to the story in the third post to his new “news” section at his website. Here’s a bit:

In May of 2011 an article titled “Sweat and Surrender” was written in Style Weekly, a news publication based in Richmond, Virginia. The article told the inspirational story of Robbie Norris, a local Yoga Instructor, who in 2008 began offering free yoga classes to inmates at the Richmond City Jail. The article can be found here: www.styleweekly.com/richmond/sweat-and-surrender

Shortly after this article was published, Robbie approached AYP to inquire about product availability to assist the inmates with their practice. David was very moved by Robbie’s charity and without hesitation informed him that he wanted to donate mats, practice manuals, and DVDs to help.

The products were well received and several inmates were inspired enough to write thank you letters to David expressing their appreciation.

If you click on the link to David’s site, you can see three of the letters he received.

It may feel like we’re going on about Robbie and his work, but it obviously is a project that has touched a few of the Confluence teachers. If you read the letters, I think you’ll understand why.

I’ll also admit I appreciate seeing their efforts along these fronts and their desire to highlight the work and teachings of others. Probably it says something about their control of ego.

UPDATE: Looks like the link at David’s site is down; my understanding is they are getting the timing of his interaction with Robbie correct. Bottom line doesn’t change: David reached out when he heard about Robbie’s great work and offered to help, unsolicited. We’ll keep you posted.

Posted by Steve

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

3 thoughts on “David Swenson, Richmond City Jail yoga and control of the ego”

  1. Hi Steve, Thank you and Bobbie for your amazing daily effort and dedication to this very resourceful blog! Actually, I never asked David for anything — other than to consider coming to the jail to share his presence and teaching with the inmates, if he should ever be near Richmond in his travels. I just sent him the story and thanked him for being an inspiration and valuable resource to me over the years — even while I have never met him.

    David responded:


    WOW your work is an inspiration! Thank you SO VERY MUCH for sending it along. If there is something I can do to support your work let me know. Maybe I can donate books or DVDs to your programs. Also lets keep in touch and maybe someday I can come there and participate in the program with you!

    I send you my best wishes and respect!


    So there you have it. What a true gift and what a kind man! He wasn’t responding to a request; he was just operating from his heart.

    My hope is that the publicity will help spread this practice throughout the nation’s correctional system. (Right now, Virginia state prisons don’t even allow inmates to own yoga mats but they can buy televisions.) In fact, due to the article, I was recently contacted by a juvenile correctional facility and am about to begin teaching there … and I’m excited to find out how the practice resonates with teenage boys… and I believe that for some it might change the whole arc of their life.

    What could be better than learning a fundamental practice of “self-correction” while in jail or prison. Anyone who has practiced primary series consistently for a number of years, and enjoys helping people, can do it. I think it’s just an incredible fundamental, universal practice. And I think Ashtanga Yoga in prisons can benefit the culture of this whole country, over time.

    Robbie Norris

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