It was 100 degrees when I pulled into Folsom.
When I opened my car door, the heat nearly knocked me over. The constant whomp-whomp of the swamp cooler provided a noisy soundtrack while circulating hot air in the gym. As the guys filtered in, I introduced myself and ask them a few questions about their yoga practice, injuries and general mood.
A few guys had never practiced yoga before.
Throughout our practice, I peppered in some tidbits about our nervous system, and how stress and trauma can affect us. I also briefly described how yoga can mitigate these effects.
We closed our 90 minute practice with a 5 minute mindfulness meditation exercise. I peeked to quickly scan the room and was amazed to see how their faces had softened. They were completely still, their postures were tall and dignified.
I closed the class by asking everyone to share a word or phrase to describe what they were feeling now.
One of the men who had never practiced yoga before said, “freedom. I forgot I was even in prison.”
That’s what this is all about. The reason I drove 2 long hours. My why for doing this work all these years.
We are embodied beings. For most of us, when we are under stress, disconnecting from our bodies might feel like the only option available to us and over time, can become our habituated way of being in the world. We privilege our thoughts and minds, often acting and reacting, without being curious about their relationship to the rest of who we are. As a result, we end up feeling out of balance with ourselves, community and the planet.
As I left this evening, the temperature had dropped to 90 degrees.
I watched the sun set in front of me and glanced at the moon rising in my rear view mirror during my drive home. I am grateful, renewed and nourished (especially after a burger and milkshake in Fairfield 😉).
Beautiful Chandra. I wish everyone could have this experience and your sharing extends the reach. Only by being present in our bodies can we feel what your classmates describe …blissed out by being here. Grateful for your post.
amazing.. i hope i can find my way to such service. x
Hi Andrea! the best ways to step onto this path are through our Foundational Training or by completing a Facilitator Application (https://prisonyoga.org/becoming-a-facilitator/). This path of service is life-changing!