Tag Archives: seva

Prison inmates take to yoga

It’s not “news,” but it’s published in the New York Times:

New York TimesIf the Sun Salutation Has to Fit Into a Cell
The class was the fourth that Jim Freeman, a lawyer turned yogi and the founder of Conviction Yoga, has led at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s Powledge Unit in East Texas. For the inmates, the weekly two-hour sessions offer a reprieve from their cells and the boredom of prison life, along with physical and mental health benefits. And the Powledge chaplain said corrections officers saw better behavior from inmates who took part in spiritual programs that gave them a chance to exercise.

Yoga and meditation are increasingly used in prison. Good for the inmates, and bravo to the teachers mentors who take the lead in going into prisons. Now if we could only get the justice system to work right so that we don’t have the highest percentage of imprisoned population in the world.

Yoga helps turn around prison inmates

Photo: inmates seated in meditation on bunks
Photo courtesy of the movie Dharma Brothers.

Yoga and meditation can play a major role in turning around prison inmates. Illinois is just one state that has taken this approach or allowed volunteer organizations to support it. Yoga for prison inmates is no longer a stretch (CorrectionsOne.com, originally in the Chicago Tribune):

Yoga and meditation sessions have been a mainstay in the women’s jail for six years, since a group of volunteers from a local nonprofit that encourages yoga as an element of rehabilitation started showing up, mats in tow, and leading classes for all female inmates, said Alisa Kannett, an administrator with the nonprofit Yoga for Recovery. For years correctional facilities across Illinois and the country have been implementing yoga workshops and programs, sometimes at the urging of inmates, and the trend is growing, said Gabriella Savelli, director of Prison S.M.A.R.T. The group has helped implement yoga programs at 36 correctional facilities in 21 states, including at a men’s boot camp in Cook County and Stateville Correctional Center in Crest Hill.

Also see the video that accompanies this article.

Don’t forget Haiti

Photo: a man eats in front of collapse building in Port au Prince
Support the “To Haiti With Love DC” event

Kristin Adair and Christy Freer have asked me to mention their event next weekend, To Haiti With Love DC:

To Haiti With Love DC is a gathering of an incredible community of yogis, yoga teachers, and activists who have committed to raising funds and awareness for Haiti. We will come together on June 18 to engage in a powerful traditional practice of 108 sun salutations led by 12 different teachers from across the DC area. Each participating student will donate or raise at least $108 and all proceeds will go directly to support community-based organizations creating sustainable solutions in Haiti. The event will also feature live music from local band The Greater Good, inspiring speakers, donated snacks and beverages, and prizes for the top fundraisers.

Christy and I are collaborating in this effort with Off the Mat, Into the World through their Global Seva Challenge. We are both yogis, lawyers, and activists who have committed to taking our yoga practice off the mat and into our communities to inspire yogis to create positive change. If we reach our combined fundraising goal of $40,000 in 2011, we will travel to Haiti in 2012 to work with the organizations and projects these funds will support.

Their event will take place Saturday, June 18, from noon to 2:00 pm, at George Washington University, University Yard, 20th & H Street NW, Washington, DC (Metro: Foggy Bottom/GWU). You can also check out their Facebook page.

Seane Corn: yoga as prayer

Seane Corn was the focus on a Speaking on Faith feature on Yoga: Meditation in Action in September last year (How I missed this, I don’t know. I suspect it was because I was absorbed by my injured knee). I’ve mention her before in the blog because of her yoga outreach program, Off the Mat, Into the World. There is a podcast or you can listen online, but there’s a lot more to explore that goes beyond the radio program. As a teaser, The video that follows is from Yoga Journal’s Yoga from the Heart and was recorded at a conference. Seane mentions that she practices as a prayer for her father fighting cancer, and that touched me because my brother is going through the same struggle. I was in awe of Seane’s control and pace during the Sun Salutation.


Seane Corn Demonstrates “Body Prayer” from Speaking of Faith on Vimeo.