A Team Of Amazing Thinkers And Activists


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After fourteen years, the Broome Street Ganesh Temple will close its doors on February 28th.

Devoted Ashtangis were hit hard by the New Year’s announcement. At 430 Broome Street, the residue of sweat and tears lacquer the floorboards – the echoes of laughter and slokas pervade the walls. And door code 8006* is ingrained in the muscle memories of countless fingers. It’s a second home for many.

On the plus side, Eddie Stern hopes to reconvene his classes at a new location, “hopefully in or around the neighborhood that we love so much!” he said.

In the meantime, don’t miss the Temple’s last teaching event. This weekend, on January 17th and 18th, BroomeStreet will offer an in-City retreat commemorating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day weekend. The weekend is produced in conjunction with internationally recognized activist Erica Ford.

In 2002, following the murders of two urban youths, Ford founded LIFE (Love Ignites Freedom through Education) Camp, Inc.. Ford’s vision began by teaching violence prevention practices in schools, but by 2006, it expanded to provide empowerment opportunities for disadvantaged communities.

Deepak Chopra introduced Ford to Stern in 2011, and the three founded Urban Yogis, NYC. Now a branch of LIFE Camp, Inc., the Urban Yogis are a group of yoga/mediation practitioners from South Jamaica, Queens. Equipped with the transformative tools of their practices, they engage in community activism to remedy violence in their neighborhoods.

“Yoga could use some diversification, and access is part of making that happen,” Stern said. “The Urban Yogis are helping to make that access possible.”

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Ford found that “the impact of the program on these young people’s lives has been nothing short of transformative and enlightening.” It’s a perfect partnership for progress.

Both Ford and the Urban Yogis are on the retreat’s roster.

Ford will lead discussions on how yoga/meditation can break boundaries that promote biased views on race and inequality. She hopes the weekend will encourage participants to practice peace through personal initiative. “My goal is to change one thing in their lives…to make each person happier and to bring them holistic peace,” she said.

Pastor NaRon Tillman of St. Philip’s Christian Church in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn will accompany her. “We are living in an amazing time,” Pastor Tillman said. “I don’t believe that it’s by chance we get to unify on such a hot button issue.”

Pastor Tillman looks forward to the multidenominational aspects of the weekend: “I believe that Christ’s message transcends religious differences…this is what we need to establish foundations for our personal life journeys!”

The retreat also falls in the middle of the fifth annual NY Peace Week.

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Organized by LIFE Camp, Inc., Peace Week honors Dr. MLK, Jr.’s legacy of non-violence. For seven days, youth and celebrity ambassadors will flood social media with personal experiences that reinforce this year’s theme: #PeaceIsALIFEStyle. Proceeds raised during the week will support empowerment programs for NYC youths.

Noted Ashtangi and Namarupa publisher/editor Robert Moses will round out the weekend with lectures on Vedanta.

“I’ll try to explain the inexplicable!” Moses said. “A weekend like this is to reignite our inner desire for questioning…to remind ourselves that we are here to become free from our temporary limited states.”

Mysore hours will be offered each morning from 6am-11am. And there will be chai.

“We love what we do, and we look forward to many more years of it,” Stern said. “This move from 430 Broome Street is a positive thing and I don't want anyone to feel that we are victimized by rising real estate costs. This is how it goes – and we are going with it!”

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To register, email: aynyfrontdesk@gmail.com. Scholarships available.

-Michael Laskaris


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