Liberation Prison Yoga: Bringing Yoga to America’s Jails

We have always been told that prisons are places of punishment, but this is just not true. The truth is that prisons are places of rehabilitation. When you go to jail, you are just as likely to have a yoga as you are to have a workout. What better way to break away from the violence and selfishness of the outside world.

Most people think of yoga as some kind of exercise. It is not.  Yoga is a practice that unites the mind, body, and soul. If you are curious about practicing yoga in a prison, this article is for you.

The term “prison yoga” has become a bit of an oxymoron over the last few years, as many prisons have banned the practice due to its supposed peaceful nature. However, there is nothing peaceful about the act of yoga, and prisoners are no different from prisoners anywhere else in the world. They need and deserve the peace and serenity that yoga brings, especially during the time they are incarcerated. Consequently, California’s Mendocino County Jail has begun a Yoga for Inmates program, which will include the practice of yoga in the prison’s courtyard, and a friend of mine has been documenting the experience in a blog.

Prison life has received a lot more attention in recent years, thanks in part to Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black.” Yoga Jones would be pleased of the non-profit Liberation Prison Yoga, which is introducing yoga to prisoners all across the United States.

Incorporating Yoga into the Prison System

Prison of Liberation Anneke Lucas launched Yoga, which primarily focuses on various jails on Rikers Island in New York City, in 2014. Lucas was born in Belgium in 1963 and was a juvenile victim of a sex trafficking network. She chose to assist offer yoga to those in need after discovering yoga and meditation via Paramahansa Yogananda’s Self-Realization Fellowship as a young adult.

Convicts in America’s jail system were the individuals she thought she could assist and who truly needed it. She accomplishes this via Liberation Prison Yoga.

The Corporation

Liberation Prison Yoga is a program that offers “trauma-informed” yoga to imprisoned men and women in the aim of improving their quality of life both behind bars and after they are freed.

Yoga instructors that are “trauma-informed” have been educated in a manner that allows them to offer yoga to practitioners in the gentlest, most compassionate way imaginable. There is a strong focus on human connection, and elements of yoga that may be off-putting, such as the usage of Sanskrit and the spiritual side of yoga, are avoided.

Feeling the Advantages

According to an interview with Sutra Journal, Lucas has “witnessed moments of great beauty.” She doesn’t get to work with prisoners for extended periods of time, but she tries her best to assist her pupils when she has the opportunity.

She went on to say that, “students have reported that they felt they were changing because of the groups, that they were able to create space for their feelings, and as a result could muster the will to stop with drugs, which are of course available inside.

Prisoners participating in a yoga class at San Quentin Source: Sutra Journal Prisoners participating in a yoga class at San Quentin Source: Sutra Journal

The ability to read about encounters with inmates on the organization’s Facebook page truly brings their work home. The tales you may read there, similar to Humans of New York, put a face on individuals who are incarcerated.

Lucas is doing a wonderful job here. She is working with a group of twenty-three other instructors to bring peace to some of America’s neglected citizens. Prisoners, who are often unseen in the public view, are finally discovering serenity and happiness through yoga.

Yoga has become a popular fitness trend in recent years and has been a focus of attention in the media and popular culture. In 2009, the first jail and prison in the United States began to offer yoga classes for inmates. These classes were not designed to be a specialized form of yoga, but rather an eclectic mélange of movements and breathing techniques and movements. The classes, according to the jail and prison, teach “objective fitness and discipline”, “respect”, “emotional intelligence”, “leadership” and “peace” to inmates.. Read more about prison yoga chicago and let us know what you think.

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