A Yogi’s Love, Delivered

Bearded Yogi Jason Patrick brings a weekend of fun introspection to The Ace Hotel to benefit God’s Love We Deliver.
February 05, 2014
Big Love Weekend organizer Jason Patrick; (inset) special guest Parker Posey
 
This time last year Jason Patrick—a.k.a. The Bearded Yogi—threw a small birthday party that doubled as a fundraiser for one of his favorite organizations in the city: God’s Love We Deliver. He raised about $5,000 for the food assistance program, but he knew that he wanted to—and could—do more. 
 
He went to work getting commitments from sponsors and famous friends to help throw a weekend-long yoga event that combined his love of the Eastern spiritual practice, philanthropy on behalf of God’s Love, and a birthday party for himself. This weekend’s events are the culmination of those efforts, and his goal is to raise $100,000 for the organization.
 
Patrick’s story really begins a few years earlier, though. In 2009, he was living a relatively carefree life at a yoga ashram in the Bahamas. Later, he traveled, studying and teaching yoga in Canada for a time,  before discovering that he had contracted HIV. 
 
“In that process I came back to the states and I came back to New York and it was a time for recovery as well for me and it was time for me to take care of my health,” the out yogi recalls. 
As part of his recovery, he became increasingly involved in two organizations: Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, where he received the medical care he needed, and God’s Love We Deliver, an organization that he’d first encountered in 2003 when a friend who volunteered as a meal delivery driver brought him along for a transformative day of service. 
 
“I got to see a lot of stuff,” he remembers. “It really touched me, it made me feel really good.”
 
Recovery is also part of what makes Patrick’s story so compelling. “I don’t mention that much unless it helps people,” he admits, “but I [succumbed to addiction] and put myself in harm’s way. I’d become HIV-positive and it does become part of my story.”
 
To help him make this year’s fundraiser as successful as he possibly could, he reached out to his friend, actor Edward Norton, as well as Norton’s wife, Shauna Robertson. “They created Crowdrise, an online platform for crowd funding,” Patrick explains. “So I worked with their executive team and we built this beautiful page.” He also got in touch with good friend April Bloomfield, owner of The Breslin at The Ace Hotel. “They graciously said that they’re going to sponsor [Big Love Weekend] and that they’re going to host it.”
 
What exactly will be going down over the course of the two-day event, you ask? On Saturday, Patrick has organized a series of yoga-based workshops that he’s calling the “Wellness Day” where he’ll turn The Ace Hotel’s Liberty Hall into a bona fide yoga temple. K. Krishnan Namboodiri will lead a Puja (prayer) ceremony. Later, Gabrielle Bernstein, author of Spirit Junkie: A Radical Road to Self Love and Miracles, will give a talk, and Britton Darby will lead a Hatha-inspired yoga session with live music by Sarah Neufeld of Arcade Fire, with other events to follow. 
 
On Sunday, Patrick plans to throw the party half of the weekend. Starting at 7:30pm he’ll have food and drinks catered by The Breslin, as well as performances by The Pharoahs, Christine Cole, Robert Lock and Anny Finnestad, in addition to an appearance by actress Parker Posey. And at 10:30pm the evening will turn into a dance bash with beats by DJs Andre and Natasha Blank. 
 
Anyone can party, but whether you’re a fellow yogi, or have never even heard of Lululemon, don’t be shy. “This is an introduction to my world,” Patrick says. “A beginner could be in there. There’s going to be nothing that’s intense—a nice Hatha class, which is a very gentle session. It’s accessible to anyone.” 
 
Big Love Weekend at Liberty Hall in The Ace Hotel, 20 W 29th St (@ Broadway), Sat Feb 15 from 11am–5pm and Sun Feb 16 at 7:30pm; $50 for party only/$108 for Wellness Day or party/$216 for entire weekend. Visit beardedyogi.com for more info.