“The Incredible Randy Smith”
  • October 20, 2016
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“The Incredible Randy Smith”

Memories of Randy Smith…

The Incredible Randy Smith

Randy’s gift to me was the essence of compassionate strength. Such a strong man, Randy could have easily used his stature and military skill to display a hardened strength. Instead, he showed me that strength can be powerful but also soft and compassionate. He was loved by so many because he loved so many. Strength, compassion, humor, intelligence, and friendship. Thank you, Randy.

Missy


I am left with such a heavy heart as I learned of Randy’s passing today. Randy and I met at Hot Yoga where he practiced in Johns Creek. Randy had such a kindness about him that was infectious. He was loved and adored by all his fellow yogis and students.

He will be deeply missed and yet never forgotten. It is not often someone touches your heart in a way that he had touched mine. He was such a wonderful soul and I will miss him and his smile.

My deepest condolences to his family. May God guide him to be amongst His Angels.

Robin Effler


When I came to yoga, in the very beginning, I sometimes felt invisible. Because of all the other daily slights of racism, I wondered if it was because I was a person of color. I loved going to Randy’s class because he always saw me, acknowledged me, knew me. I appreciated not being the only person of color in the room. I know that the studio grew and things (and I) changed, but at my start, in 2006 or so, that was important to me.

Randy was a bright ray of sunshine and love. My husband did the 10 day trial once and every time after that, for years, Randy asked me when my husband was coming back to yoga. He didn’t give up on people.

I’ve done Bikram yoga in San Francisco, Berkeley, Baltimore, Boston, Waltham, Asheville, Cambridge, Kansas, New Orleans, DC – everywhere I travel for work. Still Hot Yoga is the most diverse studio (race, age, body type, etc.) I have ever practiced in. I have never seen as many people of color, and black men in any other studio. I think Randy played a big role in bringing this yoga to many, many more people.

Jessy


I just heard of the news of Randy’s passing. This is truly awful news. It’s been a while since I’ve been at the studio, but I remember taking classes from him. He was always enthusiastic, helpful and friendly. My condolences to his friends and family.

Ramanan


I have fond memories of Randy’s heartwarming, welcoming and cheerful personality. He helped me accomplish my first 30-day yoga challenge and I still remember his charming, teddy-bear smile from those early morning 6am classes when I needed a little extra motivation. I cannot thank him enough for the influence he’s had in my journey toward health and I will remember him always!

Michelle


Such a sweet and kind soul.

Mira


I was in Randy’s very first Bikram class. He was hot, loud, hilarious, determined, and hilarious. I can remember that he was encouraged to use the wall for stability during a standing balance posture. He did so, unapologetically. Truthfully, I didn’t think that I would ever see him in class again, but I admired his effort.

I was wrong. I did see him. I saw him nearly every afternoon for several years. As I rushed in, quietly loathing my only class of the day, he was often cooling off before his second. We got to know each other before and after class. His smile lit up that hot, dim room, every time that he was in it.

I can remember when he no longer needed the wall for balance. I remember the excitement as his back was healing. I remember when he found his breath and his peace in the class, and in postures that he struggled with years before. I remember when he was preparing for teacher training. I was in his last class before he left. I was honored to be a part of his intimate inaugural class when he returned, stronger and leaner.

I was one of the faithful few in his early sunrise classes, and like so many, I especially Sunday classes. As an instructor now myself, I regularly mention Randy’s journey from wall-hugger to rock star instructor, when motivating new and skeptical students. This yoga practice of his was but a metaphor of the integrity, intensity, intention, diligence, joy, love, laughter, and peace that lived everyday, outside of the hot room.

Love & Light,
Jada


Randy has been one of my biggest sources of inspiration concerning my Bikram practice. I believe he started around the same time as I did around 11 years ago. I noticed he was there whenever I went to class and asked why he went so often. He informed me that he was going to be one of our teachers.

I continued to practice sporadically and returned after a long absence to find him in fact in the teacher’s seat! What an accomplishment! His accomplishment inspired everyone, but I know that myself and other African American students were truly motivated by his consistency and dedication to his practice. My deepest condolences to his family. Randy was one of the nicest people that I have been blessed to know.

Imani


I have very fond memories of practicing with Randy. Back in the old days, we would attend the 4:30 PM almost daily. Randy and a couple of us would practice at the back right corner of the room (the opposite side of the windows). He said that it is the hottest place. I admire his strength and perseverance. He is also such a wonderful person. I will miss him so much.

Anita


It is with deep sadness that I have to say goodbye to one of my favorite Hot Yoga instructors, Randy. He had a loving and supportive spirit and always encouraged us to “rest and let our body receive the benefits of the practice” during savasana… I received so many benefits of practicing with you, Randy and will miss you much. Namaste.

Christi


I’m so shocked to here about Randy’s transition. I can always remember him telling me to “lock those knees, put your head down and lock those knees.. LOCK THOSE KNEES!” It really helped me to get deeper into my stretch and practice… I am grateful for practicing under his guidance.

“Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer.”
~Maya Angelou~

Gratefully,
Ivy


Hello I was Randy’s roommate at Bikram Teacher Training in 2009. I am very shocked and heartbroken to hear about his death. My heart goes out to all of you, his wife and his children.

Ryan


I am saddened to hear of Randy’s passing. I attended many classes at 10 am with Randy in Decatur & he was always a pleasure to be around. Heartbreaking.

Bev


I’m so sorry for your loss. Jenny and I named Randy “the voice of reason”. He was such a great guy and I am honored to be a peer of his at Spring ’09 training. God bless.

Katie


Randy was one of my first instructors at SHY – he was always so encouraging, motivating and playful. He also took an interest with what was going on in my life, how I was doing, my kids. Randy was a wonderful role model for living life fully and caring for others. He will be sorely missed in our community.

Julie


Wow, where to begin? Randy and I started practicing at BYD about the same time, more than 10 years ago. We chatted frequently in our left half of the room. I am a computer science professor and he was in IT, so we had that and yoga in common. Plus we both liked to talk about the little ones in our lives (my girls, his grandkids).

I was so impressed when he decided to go to teacher training. While he was there he sent several emails updating us on how it was going. At the same time I was doing a 30 day challenge for the first time. We encouraged each other back and forth about the mental and physical pains and challenge associated with more yoga than usual. He sent a special note on Mother’s Day to all the yoga moms.

I was privileged to attend Randy’s first class when he returned, held just for teachers and a few students. Whenever he got a little lost in the dialog he reverted to drill sergeant mode — “at ease” rather than “change”. He could laugh at himself right along with us.

In recent years I didn’t come to Sunday morning classes very often, so I didn’t see Randy except every couple of months. Every time I came in the studio for one of his classes he greeted me with a booming “Elllennnnn”! I can still hear it. I was anticipating it last Sunday as I drove to class, not knowing that I’d already received my last warm welcome from Randy.

For Randy’s family – my heart aches for your loss. The void left by such a kind, generous, loving, positive human being is so large. Thank you for sharing Randy with his BYD/SHY family for so many years.

Ellen


My deepest condolences and prayers are with all of you and Randy’s family. I literally collapsed to the floor and lost my breath when I heard the news. My heart is broken over the lost and details of Randy’s horrific departure. Of course I am very sad and tears keep filling up my eyes.

I find myself having flashbacks of the very few yet poignant encounters in the hot room on and off the mat. He was such a good coach and a great cheerleader. Randy was such a valuable countryman, loving father, gracious grandfather and encouraging mentor/friend. I so loved going to his “Hot Yoga Church.” His Sunday “service” always gave me life.

Lisa


I always tried to attend Randy’s classes at your yoga studio. He quickly became one of my favorite instructors due to his friendly demeanor and his encouraging way of teaching. He always had a smile on his face and made getting to the 6am class that much more worthwhile. He was a gentle soul, and I was so saddened to hear of his passing. My heart goes out to his family, friends and his yoga family too. I’m so sorry for your loss.

Eleanor


I am so sad to hear about Randy. We were students together and then he was my instructor. What a great person – so encouraging and just lovely to be around. I loved walking in the door and seeing him at the desk – I knew it would be a good class. Even at 6 in the morning. He was a special person to everyone who knew him, I have no doubt.

Lee


I feel my life began again at Still Hot Yoga, or as it was known at the time, Bikram Yoga Decatur. I had been dealing with severe depression, extreme trauma from my past and consistently struggled with urges of suicide for years before coming to the studio. The studio was my last resort, a friend asked me to join him, just for one class and it was in that one class that I found an avenue of expression for decades of pent up trauma, anguish, and pain. It was in this hot room where I would admire everyone from afar. I kept to myself mostly but I would always make the effort to smile, at the very least.

It was usually every Sunday where I would see him, Randy. He always had this radiating smile, piercing eyes, and glowing skin. I don’t know what started our friendship or what sparked him to say hello but he did. He always did, every time he saw me, he would make an effort to ask how I was doing and my favorite, he would encourage me to keep coming. He would encourage me to go a little deeper with my asana practice and to come to more classes, including his. His energy was always bright, happy, honest, and sincere. It was in this kindness where I was able to smile a little more and have a little more compassion for myself.

I would often enjoy practicing next to him in class and practicing with the entire studio community. It’s in that hot room where I found aspects of myself that I had forgotten but these aspects were reflected to me by everyone around me. It was in this warmth, and the warmth of the other teachers: Eric, Anand, Rebecca, Stephanie, Cleveland, Nicholle, where I began to feel that the studio was another home for me. The studio was a place where I felt safe and where I was held as my highest potential. Randy, and all the teachers at the studio, are more than just teachers: they are living examples, reminders of what it means to dedicate oneself towards the discipline of self-love, compassion, and conscious awareness.

I am deeply saddened for the loss of Randy and for the fact that I can’t physically be there but I am there in Spirit. To Eric, to Still Hot Yoga, and to Randy’s beloved family: my deepest condolences for your loss. I will always keep Randy in my prayers. His soul, energy, and light will be beyond a doubt absolutely missed. I will never forget the impact Randy had on my life and I am eternally filled with gratitude for the opportunity of encountering his beautiful, vibrant Spirit in this lifetime.

With warmest love, hugs
Sumera


I was so heartbroken to hear of the loss of Randy. During my years at Still Hot Yoga, he was one of my favorite instructors. He had the amazing ability to push me to the limit without making me feel bad. Always ready with a smile or kind words, he was a joy to be around. I will miss him dearly. My thoughts and prayers are with all of you at this very difficult time.

Meaghan


I will remember Randy with love and kindness. His sweet and gentle spirit reminds me of the purity and goodness in this world.

I remember how he welcomed me to Hot Yoga after returning home from two years of working and living in South Korea. I was seeking to continue my Hot Yoga practice in America. He calmed my concerns and fears after just having back surgery and encouraged me each time I saw him. A few moments with him would always reflect his genuine concern for others and love for his family. He supported my dreams of pursuing another degree and opening my own business.
When I told him, I had a solo at church, he said, “I will be there!” I remember seeing his smiling face in the audience as I sang an old country gospel spiritual song. I will always recall his famous words “Touch it.”

Randy you have truly touched our hearts and lives. I am better because of you. We unite to celebrate you! Fly high and rest, our dear yoga friend. Until we meet again, I will continue to reach, as you taught us to.

Pamela


Randy was practicing as a student my very first hot yoga class. I kept wanting to bolt out of there, but something about his spirit that exuded doing your best whatever that is kept me grounded and in the room. Always a smile on his face, always so full of love for life. His gentle soul shined through the strong military exterior. I am so sad he is gone so fast, but truly grateful to have known him.

Dinah


I had the good fortune of practicing yoga alongside Randy as a fellow student before he trained as an instructor and, of course, experiencing his gifts as a teacher. His consistently-positive and committed attitude, his kind and generous character, and his dedication to yoga and our community were inspiring and infectious.

I will live with Randy’s encouraging voice resounding in my head – “Touch it, touch it, touch it!” – when I encounter any obstacle. His commanding and gentle presence was always such a gift and his absence will be profoundly felt. I feel blessed to have known him and will miss him greatly.

Emily


Randy was one of my regular yoga teachers from 2010 until 2013 at Still Hot Yoga (then BYD). In 2010, I was living through the darkest time of my life. I’d lost all sense of self-worth and was struggling hard to find value in life again after the loss of a beloved family member and a prolonged debilitating illness. What I have always treasured and will always remember the most about the quality of Randy’s character was how genuinely he valued every human being with whom he came into contact.

Class after class, year after year, he greeted every single person by name as they walked through the studio door; when class had finished, he’d acknowledge every student again by name as they left. He’d thank them for coming, wish them a good day or evening, and tell them he’d see them again soon. If he didn’t know their name as they came in, he asked and then he never forgot it. He interacted this way with students whether or not he was the scheduled instructor, and through the simple but powerful gesture of recognizing people individually and by name, Randy acknowledged the presence and value of each unique human being – again and again and again. He was a tremendous equalizer and unifier. When Randy Smith was in the studio, everybody was Somebody, and that included me.

The room could NEVER be hot enough for Randy. Some teachers would crack open the exterior door about halfway through class to let in a waft or two of fresh, cool air – Randy never held with such nonsense: if you were in his class, you were there to work! to sweat! to push it! He was a teacher who drove a steadily challenging pace with a smile on his face and mirth in his eyes, always on the brink of bursting with the zest of teaching and the bliss of connecting with other human beings in a truly meaningful way.

He saw the potential in every student to work a little harder, try a little more, power through the last brick in the wall – because he knew that a student’s ability to freely and fully recognize their value and potential would lead to that student’s liberation. He knew that the mind was the barrier – and even more importantly, he knew that the barrier could become the gate.

After class one evening, I was one of the last to leave. I shared with him about my loss and the devastating grief from which I just couldn’t seem to surface. He told me that it was time to start pushing back at the grief. He said, “Time to start pushin’ back at it, Tracy James. You’re strong but you have to know it.” He didn’t have to listen or offer his support – he did because that’s how he rolled. He helped me see something in myself at a time when I was in far too much darkness to see it on my own.

As a yoga teacher now, I have opportunities daily to acknowledge the value of the human beings with whom I come into contact, to hold a steady, safe space for those in need of such, and to firmly but lovingly encourage the ripening of potential in those who aren’t necessarily aware that they have any at all.

Randy’s influence on me has been deep, enduring, and precious. He was an extremely good man, full of genuine kindness and an effusive positivity that had the power to uplift every single person he met along the way. He made a true and lasting difference in my life at a time when I felt like nothing and nobody important. He did for me precisely what a clearly-intentioned teacher is meant to do: he helped to illuminate what was already inside of me so that I could bring it out into the bright, open space of my own light.

With love and gratitude,
Tracy


Randy was my first instructor at hot yoga. I was overwhelmed by the heat,and also by Randy’s kindness at working with me to get me through that first class. I became a regular and always especially loved Randy’s classes. My heart goes out to his family and many close friends. May he rest in peace. His spirit will live on.

Ann


Randy was such a wonderful soul. I still cannot believe he is gone. I pray for his family and all of you at the studio. I know his bright, loving spirit is missed greatly.

Susan


Randy was a precious soul and one of my favorite Bikram yoga teachers. There were so many things to love about him.

Randy always put the students first. It was never about him. He focused on inspiring and “cheerleading” us to do more than we thought we could do. He was one of my first teachers at the studio. When I started, I was scared of the heat and the crazy, hard postures. He really made me believe I could do anything! So I kept coming back and improving — and he was always proud and encouraging.

Randy was a gentle, warm man. He had a kind word and a smile for everyone. I especially loved seeing him with his grandson when he brought him to the studio. Randy was so protective and proud of his grandson.

I work as a writer at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A few years ago, I was looking for inspiring people to feature in a story on how to get healthy and fit for the new year. Randy kindly agreed to be included in the story. He talked about how yoga helped him slim down and eat healthier, and I believe he left readers inspired. Here is the story:

https://web.archive.org/web/20140103171740/http://www.cdc.gov/features/healthynewyear/index.html

Wishing your family much comfort, strength and peace at this time. May Randy’s memory always be a great blessing.

Ronda


Randy and I started doing yoga at the studio the same year, 2005. We were both immediately taken with it, but of course Randy took yoga to a different level. Before long he was off to training and came back and began teaching.

I loved taking classes with Randy because of his enthusiasm. He was always so glad to see you, greeting you by name with a big smile. He asked about your work, your family, your life, and he wanted to share those things about himself with you. I enjoyed the class itself because of Randy’s own particular style, with his unique phrases like “touch it, touch it, touch it” but also when he slipped back into drill sergeant mode and used phrases like “As you were!”

Randy loved his family. We talked often about his kids and grandchildren whom he adored. Somewhere along the line we discovered that both of us had married the same year, 1982, and remain married to the same person! Along with everyone else, I adored Randy. I will miss him so much. Angela and the rest of Randy’s family, please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers.

Allyson


On the surface, Randy Smith’s physical strength, steely determination, & brilliant smile were instantly apparent. But underneath this impressive exterior was a remarkable man- in fact, that rarest of beings- a truly good man.

I knew Randy for many years as a yoga teacher at Still Hot Yoga, & every single time I took his class-or even when I attended class with him as a fellow student- I palpably felt his goodness, his care for and interest in others. I am a tiny old lady, but Randy’s nickname for me was “Sarah superstar,” & he really made me feel like one in his classes!

In the locker room after Randy’s class, we would often re-hash our favorite moments: the way his enthusiasm carried us through on hard days; the way his commanding voice picked us up when we were tired; but above all, the way we felt we had to try our very best because we just couldn’t stand to let Randy down. He was that kind of man.

Randy: you were so inspirational-so unfailingly strong in spirit. The energy, joy, & devotion you gave to teaching will be infused in me forever.

I have long struggled to imagine heaven. But I finally can, Randy. That is where you belong.

Sarah


I had to go back to 2009 to find this but Randy was teaching my class when I first touched my forehead to the floor in separate leg stretching pose. I was a brand new student and he was a brand new teacher. I can still hear his voice telling me to touch it and I was actually surprised I did it but was so proud. He was a beautiful soul and he will be missed.

Forehead to the floor. Booyahh. Thanks Randy!

Liz


Randy and I were privates together in the 138th Medical Company, GA National Guard. We went on active duty at the same time and made it through the ranks. He was supply and I Military Police. He was driven to succeed and he did. He also would give you the shirt off his back. He dearly loved his boys and his beloved wife. Rest in peace soldier brave, brother and dearest friend. There is a lesson to be learned from this terrible tragedy. God bless his family.

Barry


I have not been able to come to the studio to practice in some time now but still follow news and events and I was devastated to find out about this tragic loss.

When I was new to bikram yoga, Randy was so encouraging. Whether it was when he was instructing or practicing next to him which I often did, he always made me feel happy with how my practice went that day. As time passed he really made me feel more confident in my practice. He always had a friendly, welcoming presence and would often tell me stories about his grandchildren. He was truly one of the nicest people I have ever met.

I will always remember Randy as a part of the start of my yoga practice and journey, something that is still so important in my life and he has a piece of that. His untimely and tragic death is beyond saddening and my heart goes out to his family and the family he was a part of at the studio. Such a terrible loss but he leaves a bright and beautiful legacy.

Courtney


Right now all I can do is shake my head. I can’t believe you’re gone. The memories of taking your class– the suppport, the encouragement, the laughter, being pushed to stay consistent in yoga practice… there is so much I can say about you. I will miss you. Your laughter, your smile and your energy… the studio at SHY will not be the same without you. Truly gone too soon, but I will cherish the memories. Praying for Mrs. Smith, your kids and grandkids.

Satrina


A few years back as I struggled with the sudden loss of my mother, I found my way to Randy’s 6:00 AM classes. I have always been fond of the adage that you should be kind to everyone you meet because they may be fighting a battle you know nothing about. Randy lived up to the spirit of that adage like few I have known. He was kind and compassionate, but also held you accountable to doing the work. He probably never knew how much he helped me, and the impact he had on my life.

Ashley


I started practicing yoga in the Spring of 2009. I had never done yoga before but had considered it for years. My friend, Linda Craighead recommended the studio to me. I was hooked at the first class (taught by Eric Jennings). I remember when Randy returned from teacher training later that year, I was at his first class accompanied by my daughter, Hannah (who was a high school senior at the time). 7 years later, he still asks about my daughter from time to time.

When Randy learned that I work as a psychiatrist at the Atlanta VA medical center, he asked if I would speak with his wife, Angela, about career opportunities there. He was so proud of her and raved about her skills and experience. I enjoyed speaking with Angela and although there were no positions available at that time, agreed to keep my eyes and ears open.

Each conversation with Randy made me respect him more and more. Once while chatting briefly, he told me that he was studying postgraduate level IT security, but was considering a hiatus in his studies as his granddaughter was coming to live with them for an extended period because of her parents being called to duty overseas.

Randy travelled for work and practiced yoga on his own when staying in places where he wasn’t able to attend class.

I remember meeting Randy’s niece Riquel and her daughter in the change room on several occasions. I was touched and impressed by her love and respect for her uncle. Last Memorial Day weekend, she raved about how he had prepared a cookout for the extended family who all love and respect him.

Many times I saw Randy resting in the studio after taking a yoga class, preparing to take another. Randy encouraged me to try taking “doubles” because of how it deepens one’s practice. I did it once and took days to recover from the muscle aches/stiffness.

Another thing I learned from Randy was self acceptance, he was an inspiration, a person who although he wasn’t a competition level practitioner, was always optimistic, dedicated and disciplined.

Randy’s Sunday class was on Sundays at 11 am for some time. I often attended; he noticed that I didn’t attend his class anymore when it was shifted to 9 am, and kept reminding me that he missed me as I would slink in to attend to the 11 am Vinyasa class. I would apologize and explain that I simply couldn’t get out of bed that early on weekends, but shared that I missed his classes greatly.

This Sunday morning, I will be honored to have the opportunity to awaken early to attend Randy’s memorial class. I am grateful that my life was touched by his. I will continue to work at resisting the temptation to stay angry at the senseless violence that took him from his family, our community, and his future. I pledge to carry his positive spirit with me and endeavor to create love and positive action from this unspeakable tragedy.

Karen


Since this tragic news, the common theme seems to be that Randy made each of us feel welcome and at home in the studio. I had always felt this way individually, but I hadn’t realized that everyone who came into contact with him shared this same sentiment. Now, I know it’s a testament to the fact that he treated all of us, regardless of who we are and how well we knew him, with such kindness and loving support.

I thoroughly enjoyed Randy’s classes. I always found myself laughing throughout them for some funny comment he made. But he also taught us as though he was going through the postures with us, encouraging us along the way and providing strength. I am truly grateful that my path crossed with such a kind, good soul, truly one of the good ones. He will be deeply missed.

Lauren


Randy was my favorite person to see at Still Hot Yoga. I would walk in the door and his face would light up, so happy that I made it to class. It didn’t matter if it had been a day or a year since my last class, Randy was always so pleased that I had made it. A truly kind and gentle soul, he was positive and encouraging. He made everyone feel welcome and appreciated. And I just loved the way he used to say “Namaste” at the end of class. Namaste, my friend. You are dearly missed.

Sarah


He was a gentle giant in every sense. I only knew him these last 2 years but had the pleasure of teaching with him Sunday mornings 9 and 11 am quite a bit last year. Something he quickly dubbed the Randy/Sandy show. He had a unique way of making people feel welcomed, included. Gave me invaluable tips as a new, nervous teacher figuring things out. I really looked up to him. And LOVED his classes. He taught with authority while giving students space to find themselves in their individual practice. The world has lost a beautiful spirit.

“How lucky we all are to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard” –Winnie the Pooh

Sandy


He was a talented instructor who helped me find an additional step in my practice with his drill sergeant approach and personal approach for those of us who struggled. He was a warm and open person who greeted and recruited people to the practice that he thought had helped him keep mobile. He was a role model and inspiration for those of us who had physical challenges – there was always possibility.

Randy was a friend to so many of us with his kind words and greetings. He was a role model as I struggled with my practice – it was not the result, it was the struggle! And he led us by example as an obvious participant when he was not a leader.

I will miss him more than I had realized. I give thanks to his family for the huge other part of his life that sustained him. I hope I can keep his spirit of joy and openness with me forever. He is part of the essence of yoga practice.

Stu


His smile and friendly hello greeted you as you entered the studio — and it was 100% genuine, he was truly happy to see you and everyone that entered.

Someone described his as a big teddy bear drill sargent — and that seems perfect.

He was also interested in researching, preserving and sharing the history of his childhood neighborhood — the Old 4th Ward and the high school he attended.

I am honored to have called him my friend. Namaste Randy, Namaste.

Jena


I am one of many people who were touched by Randy through our yoga practice at Still Hot Yoga. I’ve known him about 10 years. Although I only knew him through “the yoga” as he called it, you could just tell that he was the same incredibly positive, upbeat person with everyone he met. I feel so privileged to have known him.

I know that Randy had severe injuries from his military service, but he never made that a focus. If we happened to practice next to each other (which we often did early on; people can develop special places in the room that they like), I’d ask him how he was doing, or how his body was feeling. He might say his back was hurting or that he’d found dry needling to be particularly effective in helping his pain. But that was it; he never dwelled on it. More so he wanted to know about me, and asked with a smile and real interest in my welfare.

Randy had a unique way of speaking “the dialog” of this type of yoga. Often, when he said the word “posture” it sounded like “pasta” and that always made me smile. He had a way of being in front of the hot room that showed leadership and humility simultaneously. I always felt encouraged and championed when he was around, whether he was leading a class or practicing somewhere in the room.

Randy’s heart and soul were about others. And now my heart and soul go out to his wife Angela and his family. I had never taken Randy’s Sunday morning class, but this morning I was there. I wanted and needed to be with many others who knew and loved Randy.

Thank you Angela and your family members for coming to the studio and being with us at the start of the class. Angela your grace, spirit, and life-long passion for working in the criminal justice system, and taking on this personal tragedy for further healing is a model for us all. I’ll always remember you asking us to think about the young killer’s Mother. “No one raises a child to do this.” By your example, and with all of us working and healing together, they never will.

Cynthia


Only a few times in your life do you come across an individual whose kindness is so palpable that in an instant he forever changes how you want to be in the world. Randy was one of those. His heart was bigger than his practice, than his teaching, than his very presence. His smile lit up the studio and his humor uplifted you. He made everyone want to be better. Including me.

I will never be able to account for all the impact he had on me, but Randy will always be with me, in my heart, in my teaching, and the way I move about the world.

In gratitude and love,
Jolin


It was apparent that the yoga community was profoundly touched by Randy; and one of his parting gifts was our gathering together and, I believe, a heightened awareness of each other.

Connie


This is heartbreaking news but thank you for sharing. I only took a few classes with Randy but I have a memory of him that is sweet, so I want to share. It was Valentine’s Day 2015 and I had only been practicing about a month. It was one of my first Saturday classes and I thought, oh it won’t be that busy, people will all be home with their sweetie. Boy was I wrong. Randy packed us in like sardines and made sure we could all fit- four rows deep and everyone’s mats touching! I was not happy- I like a little more space. As class was about to start I noticed that Randy had a red flower pinned to his grey shirt. It is vivid in my mind to this day. He announced that his flower was in honor of Valentine’s Day and we were going to have a great class. He was right. It was one of the best classes I have ever attended. So anytime I’m in class and it starts to get packed, Randy and his red flower pop into my mind and make me smile. It reminds me that space in class is neither here nor there, because the energy of those who surround me can make my practice a wonderful experience.

Martha


Written by Eric

Eric Jennings practices and teaches yoga in the style and method originated by Bishnu Ghosh, acclaimed Indian physical culturist. He holds certifications from Ghosh Yoga College of India (2016), Yogic Physical Culture Academy (2013) and Bikram Yoga, Inc. (2001). He has studied with Muktamala Mitra, Jared McCann, Mary Jarvis, Tony Sanchez, Marlysa Sullivan, William Huffschmidt, Yoganand Michael Carrol and Bikram Choudhury. With a background in theatre and performance one of Eric's strengths as an instructor is his ability to offer clear and accessible instruction making all practitioners, no matter their level of experience, feel safe, supported and encouraged in their practice.