by Adhyatma, Satyananda Yoga Teacher and author of Broken Warriors – Reaching out to prisoners with yoga
[Editor’s Note: The Yoga Lunchbox is proud to support the Yoga Education in Prisons Trust through offering free listings of YEPT fundraising events.
Plus $1 from every print copy of Forty Days of Yoga goes to YEPT.
It’s awesome work they’re doing! You can make a tax-deductible donation here.]
We thought it was time for an update on the activities of Yoga Education in Prisons Trust (YEPT).
YEPT has really taken off in recent times. We now have Satyananda Yoga teachers bringing yoga and meditation to several prisons throughout New Zealand.
Our objective is to share Satyananda Yoga with prisoners so that they may have the tools and practices for their own inner transformation and wellbeing.
As teachers and practitioners of yoga we know how it worked for us personally and we’ve seen how it has saved many lives.
The YEPT teachers and trustees strongly believe that every person in society has the right to access these gems of knowledge…and not just the middle sector of society in the yoga studios.
Not everyone can afford a $20 yoga class right?
You may notice that it’s not until you really need to make some change in your life that you put in the effort and that’s what makes yoga in prisons work so well.
Once a person is incarcerated it rapidly becomes very apparent that the change needs to be an internal one just as much as an external one….when you are locked down for so many hours a day that old monkey mind unveils itself without abandon.
Here’s what two of our teachers have to say about their experience of teaching yoga in prisons:
‘In Auckland men’s prison I teach a weekly class to men who voluntarily attend the class and the feedback is really positive from the prisoners, the guards, the therapists and the prison manager too.
I’m particularly impressed how these aspiring yogis sit so still in meditation and, as for many people, yoga nidra is also a favourite practice. Prisoners have reported to me that they sleep better, are more aware of their breathing and feel more calm and peaceful throughout the day.
I’m seeing that yoga provides real rehabilitation that serves these prisoners well while inside and after their release when they re-engage in the community.
I share with the prisoner’s stories about ashrams and encourage them that in some ways they can also make their own prison environment like an ashram and support each other in their own practice.
The prisoners also show an interest in the philosophy of yoga and we have inspiring discussions about how to apply these yogic principles in order to live a more peaceful and balanced life.’ – Brendon Sakey
‘Today was the last yoga session of my first six week block teaching inside. The guys brought in yoga books that they borrowed from the library so that’s got to tell you something – its working having yoga in the prison.
Seeing the guys relaxed and willing to learn is amazing, one guy said, “Oohh Miss I was really in the zone then”, when I said something to him.
I’m not sure who gets the most out of these classes, me or the guys. I feel so grateful to be able to pass on what I have been taught and what the guys are teaching me is cool. We all deserve this form of nurturing – we all have so much to learn. The students have asked for a “Part Two” course and one even said that may one day he would be the teacher and I would be in his class.’ – Tracy Collins
Thanks to everyone who shows an interest in YEPT. We are a grassroots charitable trust and we do rely on support, both financially and also through volunteers who give their time and energy. We appreciate your support in any way.