This is what yoga should be about

It’s easy, and understandable, to touch on some of the lighter aspects of yoga and Ashtanga. The Ashtanga police, for instance. Who doesn’t like complaining, or not complaining, about them?

And have any of us avoided the Ryan Gosling memes? (Show of hands for those who don’t want to avoid them?)

All of these things may not, really, be critical to our yoga practices. Truth be told.

Other things, though, are. And so I strongly encourage you to read all of the latest post from other friend Robbie Norris. In other words, click that link! Here’s a sample:

During five years, less than one percent of the inmates I’ve met have appeared to me as potentially dangerous.  Mainly they are just people who need love, and help discovering their potential.

Most inmates arrive at their first class heedless of the simple logic of cause and effect, and with no recognition of mind-body awareness.  Both these deficiencies are remedied by a fundamental daily yoga practice.  So many broken bodies which yoga could dramatically heal.  Currently yoga is available to all the female inmates; but on the more populous male side, only those who are on one of the two Program Tiers may participate, which means they must have exhibited some inclination to want to help themselves.  The larger General Population I would greatly enjoy teaching — a possibility that the new jail opening next year will offer.

It’s a real joy to share this transformational self-help.  Kristen Lamb will be exiting the jail having learned a fundamental daily yoga practice that has the potential to change the arc of her life.

You can and should read her “love letter to yoga” at Robbie’s site.

And here’s a link to a “dharma” talk with Richard Freeman, recorded this month.

Posted by Steve

More yoga behind bars, and the Sterns heading to Greenwich


We’ve posted a few items about Robbie Norris, who teaches yoga to inmates at the Richmond City Jail. Our last piece is right here.

Now Eddie Stern — who has worked with Robbie and first introduced us to him — has posted a video about Robbie’s work. Here’s a wonderfully succinct description, by Eddie, of Robbie: “His adherence to teaching the primary series in an effort to instill discipline and self-reliance in the men is extremely admirable – and so is his conviction.”

Here’s the video, to pass the word along :

Speaking of Eddie, I saw on the Facebook that he and his wife, Jocelyne, will be teaching at the new Jois Yoga in Greenwich, Ct. in October. Here’s info for those close enough; admittedly, there isn’t a lot let beyond the dates — Oct. 6-8 — but of note is that nine people already are committed to going. Not sure what the limit might be, but why risk finding out?


After I posted this, I checked over at Robbie’s blog and I think he posted a new piece right about when we did. Since he mentions us, I figure I should note it so you don’t think I’m hiding something.

And, actually, his post is a bit shocking — both on purpose as a humorous gesture and really — so I’d encourage you to read it. It provides another worthwhile take on the NY Times reporter’s yoga injury book. Robbie’s whole approach, as Eddie describes it above, is truly a “reality check” for those of us lucky enough to be able to practice yoga and Ashtanga in supportive, clean, eco-friendly environments.

Here’s just one bit to jump-start your interest:

At least, Bryan Shull actually was practicing yoga at the moment he was injured, in June 2011 at Indian Creek Correctional Center — by another inmate who came up behind Bryan while he was in Virabhadrasana, and swung a lock wrapped inside a washcloth against Bryan’s face, breaking his nose.  Bryan is fine now.  He was put in solitary confinement for protection, and subsequently moved to a different facility — Haynesville Correctional Center — where he has continued to practice without a yoga mat since last July.

Robbie goes on to provide a classic example of the frustrations of bureaucracy. If you can stomach it, read it.

Posted by Steve